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Tennis Anyone
November 2007 Article

Contact John Mills

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General Tips for Doubles

John Mills Photo
John Mills, USPTA

  • Keep the ball low.
  • Lob to make your opponents hit an overhead from behind the service line. Do not try to win by hitting the lob on the baseline.
  • When running fast for a short ball, or miss-hit ball, hit the ball slow, preferably with under spin, so you can keep it low. Very commonly a player will run fast for the short ball and hit it so hard they make an error or pop it up and get killed.
  • When you are being pulled off the court, hit the ball down the line or throw up a lob. When you hit the ball cross court, your partner will not know what to cover.
  • Most errors in doubles occur when you try to hit winners from the inside of the court. Keep the balls that you receive from the inside to the inside of the court. Hit the ball from the outside of the court to the outside of the court. That is why the good teams seem to cover the middle of the court, forcing their opponents to try to hit the outside of the court. Remember, hitting to the inside or across the center of the net is high percentage and hitting to the outside of the court is low percentage.
  • Sometimes when you receive a very easy second serve, instead of trying to kill it, just chip or return it short cross court. This will force the server to come forward where you can expose her weakness performing a volley or force her to go back for an overhead. This will put the pressure on her to hit a tough shot, not you.
  • When you are at the net and your partner is serving do not poach if the receiver is pulled wide outside the court or if the receiver is able to advance at you (meaning your partner's serve is not deep enough for you to perform a poach)
  • Anytime you are not sure where to hit a shot, hit it down the middle. It is the lowest part of the net and the highest percentage shot.
  • Do not try to win the point off of your service return, half-volley, low volley, deep overhead and second serve. Put these balls back in play. Wait for errors or balls you can win with, i.e., shallow overheads, high floating volleys, short bouncing kill-shots, bounce smashes, etc.
  • If you cannot serve hard, serve deep in the box and try not to serve too wide. Serving short and or wide makes your net player less effective.
  • Learn to take high deep lobs in the air as a volley when you are on the baseline. Do not let them bounce and kill yourself moving backwards toward the back fence.
  • When you see your partner at the net about to receive an easy ball, a high volley or shallow overhead, go join her at the net. That way if she does not put the ball away, you will be in an offensive position to win the point.
  • On match days, average is what wins. Thinking that you have to play great or perfect will only lead to disappointment and loss of confidence.

Good luck on the courts!

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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