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?
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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