The morning clinic was given by doubles specialists Mark Woodforde and Rick Leach on doubles positioning and strategy. It was one of the most helpful clinics given in my years of Fantasy Camp, with these highlights…
• Playing doubles you do not want to be two singles players; but you need to communicate and move together on the court
• When do you poach? It is either situational or preplanned.
• They recommend using signals: the net man telling the server where he thinks the serve should go + whether he is poaching or not. They do it on first serve only.
• When you poach, do NOT move sideways… rather angles toward the net. When you do that it gets you closer to the net and creates a much easier angle to put away a volley.
• Your partner needs to be ready for the possible reflex volley back at you
• And if you cross the center line, keep going to the other side …. And your partner should then switch sides behind you to the open court
• If the ball goes to one side of the court, BOTH players move in that direction at the same time
• How close should the net man start? The Bryans start on the service line and move forward as their partner serves; but for most, starting in the middle of the service box is best.
• The net man’s job is the intimidate and cut off the ball
• If the opponents lob over the net man’s head and he can’t take it in the air, he should call “yours” and then switch sides, moving to the opposite service line (NOT back to the baseline)
• When to move? Just as the returner is making contact with the ball (not before that)
• Poach more if you see the opponent generally just hits a slice return, which will likely float more as it comes over the net
• The net man’s service box is a microcosm of the whole court and you should be in the same position as the ball is on the whole court… if the net man is standing in his ad court box and the ball goes deep to the deuce court, he moves up to the front left corner of his box. Or, if the ball goes deep to the opponent’s ad court, he moves forward and right. If the opponents return the ball deep to your partner’s deuce court, you move back and right in your ad court service box.
• When the ball goes to your partner in the back court, should you turn and watch your partner? NO, keep your eyes forward to watch what your opponents are doing.
• When you are coming in behind your serve, it is your partner’s job to cover the middle and you should always be hitting a forehand volley in the deuce court and backhand volley in the ad court (if you don’t, you will be getting yourself out of position).
After the clinic, we started our morning singles matches with our Wankers playing Newk’s (Willy’s) Kangaroos; and the Musclemen playing the Dunnies. I was matched against veteran camper Kevin Kastner, who I had never faced in singles or doubles.
He is a lanky lefty with an injured shoulder, who hit excellent backhand slices down the line, deep to my backhand corner. My scouting report was that he was prone to make some errors, which he did not do on this day. He played well (and I did not) and, even though the match was over an hour and a half long, the score was a totally lopsided 6-0, 6-1.
After losing, I stayed and watch my doubles partner Charles McArdle take on the challenge of playing Willy Hoffmann on the next court. Charles continued his great play from the day before and overcame Willy’s slices in a grueling 2.5 hour 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) victory.
At the lunch break, our Wankers were getting down by a close score of 11 matches to 10 (just like on Tuesday).
In the doubles, I was again paired with Texan Charles McArdle vs. lefty friend Joel Drucker and Brian Nester, a tall teaching pro from Kentucky. I started serving for our team and they crushed three service returns and a winning ground stroke to break at love.
We recovered well enough to break back twice and were serving 5-3 for the set. They broke us; but we then had a set point on their serve at 4-5. After a six-ball volley rally they saved the set point … and it was all downhill for us from then on. They went on to a 7-5, 6-2 victory.
Their team beat us handily in the afternoon; and the Davidson led Musclemen beat the Stolle led Dunnies. So our match on Thursday is a must-win vs. the Musclemen to bring us both to 2 and 1.
After a Mexican night dinner, I presented my “Senior Tennis” book award to Jack Valenti for his trip to the hospital at 4 a.m. the night before due to extremely high blood pressure, coupled with his comment to Steve Contardi that he “wanted to die on a tennis court.” To which Steve responded, “OK, but not on MINE!”
That was followed by a panel discussion about the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI, and their efforts to spread the word around the globe about this facility and its inductees.
Then the annual Australian Boat Race (the team beer chugging competition) was held in between innings of the World Series. I went to bed, but I would assume it was won, as usual, by Newk’s ‘very experienced’ combined Kangaroo/Wanker team.
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