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April 2012 Article

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Simple Ways To Compete In Doubles

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John Mills, USPTA

  • When you are on the baseline, playing up and back tennis, you can handle the wide balls, the deep balls and even the ball that is lobbed over your partner's head. What do you not have covered? Answer: The short ball, let cord, etc. In general, when you are on the baseline you are asking for a short ball. That is why you should always lean into the court when standing on the baseline. This way it will not be a surprise when the short ball occurs. When you are in the transition part of the court, moving from the baseline toward your net position, what should you be expecting? Answer: A low volley or half-volley (a ball that bounces very near your feet). Why? Most players will not lob you here and if they do you can easily control it. You have moved out of groundstroke range and most opponents are not going to hit a high floating ball to you here. So, when you get caught in this transition part of the court, expect a low volley or half volley and return it to the deep player.

  • In doubles, when you are at the net and you or your partner have hit a deep ball to your opponents, what are your asking for? Answer: A lob. If you are expecting the lob, you can easily move forward to volley if necessary. The mistake is getting in so close to the net that you allow the lob to get over your head. Remember, in this position, rule out the lob before you rule in the volley.

  • Also, remember while playing doubles, anytime you see one or both of your opponents in the transition part of the court; hit the ball as low as you can, but at their feet. It is very difficult for a player to hit a winner from the transition part of the court. You will make more mistakes trying to hit the ball over or around the transitional player. Just force them to hit the tough shot from that position.

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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