Singles vs. Doubles?

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If you are physically able to play tennis singles, which do you prefer to do and why?


For me, there is a totally different “rhythm” to playing singles … after you hit your shot, you start moving because you know the next ball coming back is YOURS.  You should be constantly on the move and engaged in the play.

And naturally, it is much, much better exercise than doubles – even competitive tournament doubles play.  So if that is one of your objectives, that is the game to play.

And lastly, it is one-on-one sports competition … no one to blame for losing other than yourself.  And no one out there to help you solve the “problem” of your opponent other than you.  So big wins tend to me more satisfying.


Playing with three other guys is much more of a “social” activity and a team sport – especially if you are playing on a league team with several matches going on.

I think doubles is also more of a “skill game” than singles, which can come down to an endurance contest.  The “windows” of opportunity in doubles are much smaller and require more control and placement.

Which do you prefer?

PS On Monday, i am off to watch the pros play singles and doubles at the Miami Open!

The Best Doubles Player in the World?

according to Justin Gimelstob, it is America’s Jack Sock (with the possible exception of Rafa Nadal).  Interesting choice!

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6 thoughts on “Singles vs. Doubles?

  1. I prefer singles over doubles for all the reasons you cited. I agree it is better exercise, & if you lose there is no one else to blame but yourself. In doubles you sometimes either let your partner down, or vice versa.

    bruce, and i miss playing singles with YOU! george

  2. Since nobody is talking I’ll be the first one to say it. Playing singles means never having to come to the net!

    Andy, … except to shake hands! george

  3. George, I agree with all of your listed pros and cons for both singles and doubles. What you are essentially saying is that they really are two different games, played using almost identical rules but, nevertheless, with different athletic skills, strategies and mind sets being emphasized for each game. I agree with that.

    It is for that reason that I like playing both singles and doubles about equally. I don’t favor one over the other. I frequently play both when I enter USTA tournaments, I belong to multiple singles and doubles leagues (both USTA and private), and unless I am injured I nearly always try to play both singles and doubles each year at Tennis Fantasies camp.

    There is no better way to increase your stamina, improve your foot work and movement, improve your consistency, and groove your ground strokes overall than by playing singles. But there is no better way to sharpen your reflexes, improve your volleys and half volleys, strengthen your overhead, sharpen your returns, and learn/ practice a number of specialty shots than by playing doubles.

    Having said the above, singles always feels more like “work” to me, because with my style of play I always have to grind very hard to win singles matches, especially against bigger, stronger and faster opponents (which these days, is just about everybody). Doubles usually feels more like “play,” because the teamwork, when it is truly clicking, can elevate the level of play between me and my partner such that we both can sometimes play at a much higher level as a team than either of us might be able to play alone.

    Marty, I agree with all your points…especially the last paragraph! Thanks. George

  4. Ok George, a few comments on singles versus doubles – tennis is really fun but it is hard on the body; you earn the right to play tennis by good body maintenance routines and being lucky. As time and miles on the court take their toll, doubles is much easier to handle physically. If singles regularly brings significant discomfort to back, knees, hips, elbow, shoulder, wrist etc, then more time on court playing doubles is obvious choice. Another issue as one ages is balance – I have found a big difference in my ability to hit a clean ball with timing based upon the number of strides needed to reach the ball. One, two, or three steps and the shot flows. Four or more brings “arming” the shot into play versus balanced, body seamless shot production. I tried singles at the 70 indoors in Houston recently as the points would be shorter on a fast, hard court. All was well until I played someone who still has balance while on the full run. Dick Johnson is several years older than me but his balance on defensive shots was smooth as silk versus my awkward play. I wish him and the other elite players who can still compete well in singles all the best for it to continue as long as possible. For me, being able to still play reasonably competitive doubles is a joy and there is no point in begrudging the fall off of singles. George, I hope your hip situation resolves with many years of tennis ahead of you regardless of it being singles and/or doubles.

    Winder, I was in awe of your showing at the National Indoors! And I do hope I have more years of singles in my future. Thanks. George

  5. Addendum: Playing 1/2 court doubles is a great compromise for those of us who want to hit every shot on your side of the court but are taking too much of a chance of overuse to play singles on the whole court. To play points where you only cover 1/2 of the doubles court but hit every ball gives you double the tennis that playing full court with 3 other players provides. Great option when you want to prepare to compete in doubles and/or only have one or two players show up. Two on one 1/2 court doubles works well also where the side with two players has to hit into 1/2 of the court but the side with one player can hit to any part of the normal doubles court – you switch around so everyone gets to play alone and with a partner.

    Winder. One of my regular practice games! Thanks. George

  6. George, I am definitely a singles “player”. First of all, being a long-distance runner (marathons, etc), I feel my fitness gives me an advantage in singles as compared to doubles. Secondly, I am still learning how to adapt my play that will complement my partner. This is especially true when I have a partner who refuses to come to the net when I am at the net! However, I will say that I love to watch doubles play – especially the Bryan Brothers and Sock/Isner!

    Larry, i think singles is much like running … out there by yourself and in the zone. thanks, george

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