Mid-Point Poaching

Howie Ames

Even the club player is comfortable poaching (cutting across the middle) after their partner serves and the returner hits their cross court shot.  But it is the special player who is comfortable (and effective) making that same move DURING the point.  When and how should you do it?

Surprise! Surprise!

Frequently, doubles players find themselves one-up-one-back on both sides of the net; and the baseline players are having a nice two, three, four shot cross court rally.  While the two net players are dancing around and making threatening faces.

It is then that the aggressive net player makes their move and cuts off one of those cross court shots – and typically bangs it down the middle or at the feet of the opposing net player.

Some Tips How To …

One tournament-level player (Silver Ball winner) who does this effectively is good friend Howie Ames.  Here are some of his key points …

  • Keeping your eyes forward and not watching your partner hitting the ball
  • Being on the inside of the service line, not on or behind it
  • Moving forward to the ball, not sideways
  • Toughest part is watching the ball off of the opponent’s racquet and not them
  • Not moving before the opponent hits, but reacting to their hit so your movement is more forward, not shuffling back and forth causing less power on the volley
  • Staying with the shot, what they give you, and trying to keep at their feet for a “pop up” for my partner to put away

Are YOU comfortable using the mid-point poach?

My Heart Update

Yesterday morning, I went back to NCH North for them to drain the fluid buildup surrounding my left lung.  According to what I have been told, this side had MORE fluid than the right side; and they were right!  Last week, they took 600 cc’s (just over half a liter); and this time, they sucked out 1,200 cc’s (well over one liter)!!

It is “overcome obstacle time” … I am hoping that the drainage this morning will dramatically improve my ability to breathe, which will then improve my ability to walk/exercise, which would then improve my appetite … all of which should help me sleep better.

Stayed tuned.

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

7 thoughts on “Mid-Point Poaching

  1. Mid point poaching is a little like playing “Double Dutch’ jump roping . You keep getting ready to jump in and look for the right opportunity to make your move. A split step and being ready to go at any time is helpful.

    Steve (first responder)… good analogy. thanks, george

  2. George,

    I so appreciate your consistent and creative topics about the myriad issues relating to playing tennis and having fun! Every week you come up with fun conversation generators.

    I wish you the best with your recovery and thanks for letting us all know about how aware we need to be about our health and the updates of so many of our tennis buddies.

    One topic that I haven’t seen addressed recently is the unbelievable story of the Big Three! We are so blessed to be living during these times with the three incredible people and ridiculously good tennis champions–we will never see anything like this ever again!! And of course the ascendence of a beautiful tennis player and person–Naomi–is really big news–she is a super star in every way!

    As a tennis professional who teaches young people every day, it is wonderful to have so many great role models as professional tennis champions! The Joker is wild at every Australian and he is at the top of his game with a new and improved serve at the age of 33!

    with gratitude, Laury

    Laury, thanks for the good words. i was also fortunate enough as a kid to live in NY with another “Big three”… all at the same time NY had: Mickey Mantle, Duke Snyder, and Willie Mays… three of the greatest centerfielders ever! thanks, george

  3. One thing I have found effective is to watch the opponents in the first second or two of movement having stayed stationary prior to that. Once the racquest has begun its swing, they really can’t change the direction of their shot and to their surprise they just lost the point. Really fun to do that too.

    Dave, yup, timing is the key. thanks, george

  4. Intercepting after the serve and first return can be semi-scripted too. My regular partner, Jack Ambrose and I have a signal, which we use quite frequently, to intercept after the second shot to the receiver. The key to all good interceptions is, however, not to go too early. Previous posters have said correctly, the net player shouldn’t move before the swing forward of the hitting player.
    Other key factors in successful interceptions is for the ‘hitting’ receiver to make sure they do not move too early and give the cross away… In high level doubles, the ‘non-hitting’ receiver player can call off the play if the receiver doesn’t play the expected shot – by playing a cross-court lob for instance. For this to work, though, there has to be a lot of trust between the pair! But doubles is a team sport, right?
    There are arguments for and against signalling; almost all Div 1 college players do it. Signalling can also be done by the receiving pair to set up a midpoint interception… and don’t forget every signal requires a confirmation which can change the call!

    Allan, very sophisticated! and, good advice. thanks, george

  5. You will certainly feel a dramatic difference in lung capacity if that much fluid was drained!! Wow!!! Thanks for the updates and continued best wishes as you complete your recovery

    Doc, i surely do! thanks, george

  6. Great comments above. Here are a few more ideas: Poach with your hands high; the problem shot for older players (anyone over 35) is the high, hard one. It’s much easier to deal with those shots from a high hands position, and it’s always easier to go down to reach a lower ball that up to reach a higher one. Step in, then across toward the net strap. You want to get in close to the net, and if you step in first, it’s harder for your opponents to pick up that move.

    BJ, good additions! thanks, george

  7. The mid-point poach will help your team take the offensive if you and your partner play aggressive and stay alert for opportunities. For me, the key time to move is while the ball is on the other side of the net. By moving early and forward, you are able to play more balls from the midcourt. As in any volleying, close the net as you make your move on the ball. Don’t let it come to you. Your goal should be to power the ball down the middle, to the feet of your closest opponent, or angle it toward the alley. If you can’t get to a shot, and your partner has to play the ball, step a foot or two back in the service box and prepare to defend. You should always be moving at the net, to take on any weak shots you can reach.
    Never let the score dictate how you’re going to play. You want to stay aggressive from the first point to the last. Poaching wins points!

    Glenn, my philosophy especially at the end of a match: “The team who has the offense, wins!” thanks, george

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