Playing doubles vs. a server who serves and stays back (or a singles player who serves and volleys) means that you need to adjust your return of serve.
As we age, many senior doubles servers will now serve and stay back (hoping to come in on a subsequent shot). But if you hit a “classic doubles return of serve” – which is designed to land at the service line and at the feet of an on-rushing server – you will be giving them an easy groundstroke to take control of the point.
If the server is staying back, you should adjust your return to make it as deep in the court as possible – and again at the server’s feet; but this time near the baseline. (And then your partner on the server’s side of the court should close to the net + you should try to come in behind your deep return of serve).
Singles Net Rusher
Conversely, most of us senior clay court singles players are used to looping our return of serve back in play as deeply as possible. But if/when you come up against the relatively rare serve-and-volleyer, that return will just be sitting up high for an easy volley put-away. So, you need to adjust your return to try to put it at their feet instead.
So the server in doubles should not give their opponent a known pattern that they will ALWAYS stay back on their serve; but should mix it up enough so that the returner will always be guessing: “Should I loop it deep to the baseline or try for the short one at the service line?”
And as a singles server, Hank Irvine pointed out to me after beating me in a tournament singles match, you have to serve/volley enough times so that the returner is not fully sure of what you will be doing.
What do you think?
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