A Key To Winning Doubles

I cannot relate to men’s professional doubles play… it is just not the same game that I play (too fast, too powerful, too quick); but I did learn something watching the women’s semi’s and mixed finals at the Open.

One of the real keys to winning doubles (at our level) is an aggressive net partner. The team that had the player at the net going – or threatening to go – usually had the advantage in the point. Even if the net person didn’t have a chance to put the ball away, they frequently forced the opponent to change their stroke and often miss their shot.

And the next time they had that same shot, the opponent was then wondering if the net man was going or not.

Bob Bryan (who won his eighth Mixed Doubles Major title, with his eighth different female partner!) was a real “intimidator” at the net. And it is important to note that he did NOT move sideways… he moved DIAGONALLY toward the net and got really tight to the net for his put-away volleys.

Being aggressive and playing tight to the net also seems to be very effective. But – and this is a big “but” – you really have to put some stick on that volley. If you just block it back, you and your partner are wide open to a pass or, more likely, an ungettable lob over your heads.

3 thoughts on “A Key To Winning Doubles

  1. George—I completely agree. One year at (our) tennis camp someone asked one of the legends how often ‘we’ campers in general should be poaching and the answer was ‘a lot’. And absolutely it gets into the other teams heads; they can’t just think about hitting their shot, they have to take other things into consideration. At all of our levels we have certain shots on return we are good at, and others not so good. As servers and net partners of servers we have to figure those things out (Joel D is great at this) and rearrange accordingly. So, to your commentary two other factors stand out for me and are very often frustrating to me: 1-as teammates you have to talk and agree, just like they do in the pro’s (if they need to, we definitely do!) and you need to take the bad with the good and persevere sometimes in the face of adversity (i.e.—if something seems right keep trying it even if it doesn’t bear immediate fruit; don’t give up). It frustrates me not to talk, and to just give up on a promising tactic just because it doesn’t work once or twice.

    Kevin – I agree with your two points… and have a partner i have played with who immediately wants to stop doing whatever it may be that is ‘different’ (poaching, playing Aussie, etc) as soon as we get beat ONCE at that strategy. tks, geo


    Matt – I was wondering if anyone would notice that i flipped the picture for a better layout! You win the prize (but then, considering you are a lefty…) geo

  3. Good analysis but I couldn’t help but notice how effective the Bryan opponents were using different “Aussie” plays or positions on their serve, particularly when they set up with the net man in the middle with the serve over that player. Great doubles, an underrated sport.

    Gene – I agree; and wished they showed more on TV! geo

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