Defending vs. Australian

RP= Returner’s Partner

Using the “Australian formation” (having the server’s net man stand on the same side of the court as the server) is a great tactic to break up the returner’s strong cross court game.  But, what do you do if you are the receiving doubles team?

The Returner

What the returner sees is a “wide open court” down their line … and that is the most tempting spot to hit.  I use the singles line as my target and try to get my return deep along that line; so the server has to rush over and make a hurried response.

The next “most popular” shot is to lob return over the opposing net man’s head into to opposite corner.  The server is usually charging to the net or rushing cross court to cover the down the line shot; so if the lob gets over the net man, it is usually effective.

The third and most risky/challenging return is to try to hit a sharp angle cross court behind the net man.  It is OK, in my opinion, to try that occasionally; but it is a low percentage proposition.

The Returning Team Net Man (RP in graphic)

According to teaching pro Steve Diamond, the higher and deeper the return down the line, the deeper the receiving team’s net man (RP) stays (to protect against the lob); but the lower and shorter the return, the closer the net man moves to cover the angle and pick off the short ball.

If the returner lobs over the opposing net man, his net man has to be ready to volley back an overhead off a short lob.  But if the lob is successful, the net man should be aggressive and look to pick off the weak reply from the corner.

What do you think… how do you play against the Australian formation?

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6 thoughts on “Defending vs. Australian

  1. I think Aussie is very effective at creating chaos at the net. You can have the servers net man “stay home”, or even have him poach off the formation. Good to keep the returner guessing and take their eye off the ball.

    PJ. for me, that is the prime purpose of the formation … to break up the returner’s groove. thanks, george

  2. Like the Aussie format and can be effective. Percentage shot is down the line, deep. Trying to lob over net man can be an issue with an effective server.

    Howie, especially with a very mobile server! thanks, george

  3. If the server is not in the habit of closing the net from an Aussie formation I often drop shot into the open alley. This is a high-probability shot that often yields an outright winner.

    Baird, another good option! thanks, george

  4. This formation is also effective if you are trying to “isolate” the stronger opponent. The weaker player will almost certainly return to the open court, thus getting into a down the line rally with the server who has moved over to cover. Eventually the weaker opponent will miss or the server’s partner will get an easy put away.

    I just wish I could remember to do this more often.

    Jim, good observation! thanks, george

  5. Two pluses to add to list- allows server to cover up weaker shot usually backhand and also can hit down the line which is harder for opposing net man to poach. As we get older, harder to serve & volley so often stay back and take any short & come in. On the downside if returner also has good down the line return, could make for trouble.

    Larry, instead of “show me the money,” it is “show me a forehand”! thanks, george

  6. Yet another ‘plus’ is the server can target a serve down the middle. Often the receiver stands in their regular position and a server serving from a position nearer the center mark on the baseline can direct a serve down the middle which approaches the receiver at a different angle. Such a change can make the difference in a long deuce game…

    Allan, when i asked Roy Emerson where he stood to serve in the ad court in singles, he said he stood right next to the center line so he could serve down the middle over the lowest part of the net. thanks, george

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