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March 2008 Article

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Receiver's Partner

John Mills Photo
John Mills, USPTA

You are the receiver's partner. Usually you will be standing a little off center of the service box, favoring more towards the center service line.

What is your job?

  • You are standing in a position to cover the center of the court in case your partner gets the ball to the opposing net player.

  • You will call the service line for your partner.

  • You will listen to your partner's hit, but you will not turn and watch him (or her) hit. At this point, watch the opponent net player's racket. If you see it move, assume that he (or she) will attack you.

  • You will assume your partner is going to hit the ball to the net player. Also, assume the net player will attack you. If you can, send this ball back to the opponent furthest away.

  • If your partner is successful getting the ball away from the net player and the server stays back after serving, then you should immediately move forward at an attack position while, at the same time, covering your alley.

  • If your partner is successful returning the serve past the opposing net player, but the server is moving forward to the volley, you should slide over one to two steps toward the alley to be able to cover the alley from the attacking server.

  • As you see the server moving forward and you have already moved over slightly to defend your alley, watch the height of the server's racket as it moves to the ball.

  • If the server's racket is moving down toward the ground, forcing a low volley or half-volley, then you should be moving into an offensive position to attack the "up" ball from the server.

  • If the server's racket is moving up high, allowing the server to attack you, then hold your position and do not allow the server's shot to hit you or beat you down your alley. Since you will be in the defense here, do not poach to the middle, let your partner handle that shot.

Of the four basic positions, (server, receiver, server's partner and receiver's partner) you can see that this position, receiver's partner, is by far the most complicated and important to learn.

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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