Crossing During The Point

Bob Mazzola asks a tennis question about when to cross during a doubles point.

He writes, “We had several points where the opposing baseline player and my partner were exchanging fairly deep and wide crosscourt groundstrokes. Some of these exchanges lasted for 8-10 hits. The opponent’s partner and I were both at the net looking to pick something off; but mainly looking at each other while the rally progressed. I wanted to run across and pick off one the shots but, with no way to communicate with my partner who was deep in the backcourt, I was concerned that if I did poach we’d end up in an “I” formation or the opponent might see me crossing and hit into the open court behind me. Would a strategy have been to have an agreement with your partner that when one of these exchanges started to automatically poach on either the 2nd or 3rd return so my partner would know to cover the other side?”

First, there should not be many “baseline rallies” in good doubles… that means the server is not coming in behind his serve (which he should be doing). So assuming that is the case, the first thing your partner should be doing is to try to beat the server to the net off a fairly deep groundstroke of his own; so you have two at the net and they are split up-and-back.

But if your partner just can’t get a shot to work his way in on, I am not a fan of the artificial mid-point poach on a pre-arranged 2nd or 3rd shot; because your partner may NOT hit a deep crosscourt shot, and you will be at a big disadvantage.

Better for you to be aggressive (like your returning-serve partner) and consistently look to pick off anything that is over the middle. If you are “going,” it is then your partner’s responsibility to see that and immediately move to the vacated court.

Just remember: Offense wins.