Who Covers The Lob?

There is frequently that moment of indecision when your doubles opponents use the lob… whose ball is it to cover?

When You’re At The Net:

In the first situation, you and your partner are both at the net, leaning forward and looking to be aggressive. Your opponents sense this and lob over your heads. What happens next?

First of all, I believe BOTH partners should start coming back. If the ball is reachable for an overhead, one of you should call for it and hit the overhead to stay aggressive.

But let’s say it is definitely over your heads and going to land in. As you BOTH run back to the baseline (because your partner should NOT stay out of position at the net), you should COMMUNICATE with each other, saying that is will be IN or OUT and as to who is getting it.

I have been told that, if the ball is debatable, it is the player who will have the forehand to return the ball who should take it.

When You’re Serving:

The second situation is much more debatable. Your team is serving and you are coming to the net behind your serve.

Whose ball is it when they lob over your net partner’s head?

Argument #1: It is the net man’s responsibility to cover the lobs over his head. You are the server and pumping your chubby, little legs as hard as you can to get to the net; so it would be very difficult for you to stop your foreword motion to cover that lob.

Argument #2: It is the server’s responsibility to “slide over” and take the lob as an overhead or at the baseline. You want your net man to stay aggressive and leaning foreword to pick off any return of serve that he can. If he is feeling defensive and feels the need to start back from the net, you lose more than you gain.

I think in both cases, both players need to come back to avoid the “one-up-one-back” situation; but I do not know WHICH is the right answer.

4 thoughts on “Who Covers The Lob?

  1. George, I like the system that Helle Sparre came up with, she calls it Dynamite Doubles and she has a book of the same name. Basically, if the ball is on the other side of the court and is in front of you, you are the “terminator” and your partner, who is crosscourt from the ball, is the workhorse. The workhorse always takes the lobs that aren’t taken as overheads. End of question. Kind of like two man volleyball. There’s never a question as to whose ball it is. Under this scheme, the server covers lobs over his partner’s head, and hopefully catches it in the air before the opponents can take the net. Do you do it differently in Florida?

    Mike – that is an interesting concept! It is always a question: will you cover the lobs over your head, or do you want me to? In your scheme, there is NO question. tks. geo.

  2. Not sure if there is a right or wrong way here. All doubles teams are different in terms of player speed, reflexes, etc. (especially among the seniors). The guys here in Columbus say the main thing is for the players to agree on who takes those lobs BEFORE the match begins.

  3. I think that the answer lies in the level of doubles that is being played. In the pros if a serve is lobed back there is no question that the net man must go back and take the overhead. At the other end of the spectrum in super senior tennis the server may be expected to cover the lob. Another way of looking at is: if the server is charging the net there is no way for him to cover the lob.

    Jack – Don’t you just hate it when you and your partner both yell, “YOurs!” at the same time?! geo

  4. But don’t you agree that you should be balanced and able to go any direction when the ball is hit by your opponent? “Charging” the net almost sounds out of control. And the way the Bryan Bros hug the net, especially on either serve or return of serve, I think that they cover the lob for each other. But i’ll have to go check some archives for that footage! 🙂 I’d be curious to see how they do it.

    Mike – If i do not “charge” to the net, i won’t get out of the middle of no man’s land! geo.

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