Covering the Net vs. the Lob?

Here is one up for debate… When you’re playing doubles and your team is at the net and the opponent is at the baseline, do you BOTH go tight to the net, or stagger one man slightly back to cover the lob?

Willy Hoffmann and I sometimes play doubles with the same partner who insists both players should be as close to the net as possible (he can name himself in Comments, if he wishes); while Willy and I argue that the man on the side where the ball is should be tighter and aggressive, while his partner is up but anticipating the possible lob.

Looking at the diagram…
• Player B has served and come to the net, while his Partner A has moved tighter to the net
• Returner C is well positioned to either hit a driving forehand or choose to hit a lob
• We think Player A should be in the front one-third of the service box and be looking to cut off the possible cross-court shot
• While his Partner B should be about in the middle of the service box, where he can play a volley, but also cover the lob over A’s head.
• Our friend feels that Partner B is now vulnerable to the low cross-court ball dipping at his feet and should take that away.

It may be a factor of the level of play. If you watch the pro’s, they HUG that net; because their opponents are most always trying to drive that ball through them. At my level, my opponent is much more likely to choose to lob over our heads, if we are both tight to the net.

What’s the right answer?

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5 thoughts on “Covering the Net vs. the Lob?

  1. I agree with you on the staggered approach, we are not as fast as we use to be and having to cover a lob , the less distance to travel the better.
    I did read an article recently that does not support this approach, it said 2 up was the best, 2 back was the next best and one up and one back was the worst option as it left too much of the court open.
    I think each match must take into consideration the opponent—how young , strong fast etc. Can they lob well? a lot of people are intimidated by two folks at the net and make mistakes., poor lobs or balls hit too you.
    Enjoy your articles- we met at Maine Senior games

    Peter – Thanks for the good comments. george

  2. A should be even with B

    Stan – sure, that comment from “the second fastest man in the world”! george

  3. Like the staggered approach, as one of the toughest shots for a senior to cover is a top-spin lob over the backhand. In the diagram player
    A must also be sure not to leave the alley open if too aggressive on the cross-court drive.

    Fun topic to discuss!

    Thanks George!


  4. If player A knows he has help on the lob, then player A can be more aggressive which contributes to more errors from you opponents. Often both A and B are concerned with the lob and you loose all your aggressive play. I think you have this one totally correct.. Be Well…B

    B – Thanks. I think you and i do that well! george

  5. I concur with you and Willy, and that’s how I play. My rule of thumb is that B is generally as close to the net as he can be and still cover the lob over A’s head, Somewhere in front of the service line basically. If they can consistently hit that dipper in the corner, then maybe I”m playing out of my league.

    Mike – That is how i feel… if they can make that shot, i will say “nice shot”; if they can make it ALL the time, they are better than i am! thanks, george

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