An Immobile Partner

Here’s a tennis question looking for an answer… How do you best play with a partner who has bad knees and cannot cover the court?

What do you do?

Recently, I was teamed with a doubles partner who is a better tennis player than I am; but has two bad knees and is really limited in his mobility.

One of my improvement goals in senior doubles is to be more aggressive at the net, player closer and crossing more.  But frequently during our match, our opponents (heartless SOBs that they were 😊) would lob to the open court and my partner would make a vain but fruitless effort to get back to cover.

What’s the solution?

So, what is best way to deal with this situation…

  • Don’t be aggressive at the net; but play off the net to take away the lob?
  • Play strictly one-up-one-back and have him stay on the baseline?
  • Or something else?

We never did come up with a good solution and lost a close match.  What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “An Immobile Partner

  1. George, It can be very frustrating because shots I think are clearly being covered by my doubles partner are not. If my partner has very limited mobility, I cannot crowd the net and have to constantly be vigilant for not only lobs, but also the dropshots that our opponents (the S.O.B’s that they are) are hitting to take advantage of my partner’s lack of mobility! It’s exhausting!

    Jim, frustrating it is. thanks, george

  2. If you play aggressive you are going to get burned, because your partner cannot cover behind you. I suggest that if one player isn’t mobile, that player cover his service box only, and the front half of his alley next to it. The mobile player is responsible for the rest of the court. You can play 1 up 1 back, or you can play 2-up. But know, if the ball goes anywhere except to your partners service box, it’s yours to get. I’ve seen this tactic work on several occasions – but for it to work the mobile player has to be pretty darn mobile (and not play TOO close to the net), and the immobile player has to be able to put away the ball when it comes to him.

    Terry, i am not sure if i qualify as “pretty darn mobile”; so it will be a challenge. thanks, george

  3. Depending on our opponents, and assuming my partner is able to cover some lobs, I sometimes use a different approach. It does include playing off the net enough to discourage lobs (and looking to cover drop shots and short angles) for my partner. But I would normally mix in moves to the net as much as possible and still poach occasionally.

    Staying back all the time just enlarges the area my immobile partner must cover. Part of my job at net is limiting the area he has to cover. Of course, I’d also like to make it a rule that, when my partner is hobbled, my “heartless SOB” opponents can’t go down my alley. Nothing’s perfect.

    John, but, what are friends for?! thanks, george

  4. George, I suggest playing Australian style with the “up” man playing just behind the service line. This cuts off the lob while giving plenty of time to cover a drop. Usehand signals when the “mobile” up man wants to be aggressive.

    Chip, thanks. George

  5. Difficult at times as it takes both of you out of your usual games. Would agree with others to play back a step a bit to avoid continued lobbing. And deeper, more firm shots making it more difficult for opponents to lob effectively.

    Howie, thanks. george

  6. George, I had that exact situation at Tennis Fantasies two years ago when Jack Valenti was my partner. As you know Jack is not the most “fleet of foot” to say the least. Since I do have very good mobility and Jack does have good hands, we figured it out this way. Jack would stay at about the service line (with his good hands and angles) and I would cover the rest of the court. This resulted in us going undefeated! This sounds similar to what Terry F. recommended.

    Larry, sounds like the best advice is to make use of what talents each has and avoid the weaknesses as much as possible! thanks, george

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