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February 2013 Article

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Holster Or Not?

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John Mills, USPTA

Whenever you are playing doubles and you are near the net and in ready position, pretend your racket is a gun in a holster. Having the gun in the holster, (ready position), is intimidating. However, when you draw your racket, (the gun), out of the holster, (your ready position), this is very intimidating to your opponents. Having the gun out of the holster is more intimidating than leaving it in the holster.
 
How many times have you played doubles at the net and the ball goes by you and then you think, "I could have, I should have hit the ball"? Many of theses times, your racket will still be in the holster. Remember, the good players watch the ball when it comes to them and they watch the closest opponent's racket to them.
 
Scenario 1: You and your partner are at the net and your opponents are up and back and the back player has the ball. In this scenario the backcourt player's partner, the up player, does not see his (or her) partner hit the ball, he hears it. Next, he is watching to see which opponents' racket is going to hit the ball. So, when he sees two opponents' rackets moving, it is very distracting.
 
Scenario 2: You are at the net and your partner is serving. Your opponents are in a typical up and back position. Your partner serves and the receiver returns the ball very wide crosscourt. You know you cannot reach it. However, the opposing, (diagonal), short player does not know that you cannot reach it because he does not see his partner hit it and he is holding his position until he sees that you do not hit it. He is watching your racket. By pulling your racket out of the holster, you freeze the opposing short player, giving your partner more time to hit the ball and giving you more time to recover to a defensive position.
 
A problem many teams have, when both are at the net, is who should cover the middle ball. Usually, it is the player closest to the net. However it is a bonus when the up player hits the middle ball, but it is the job of the deepest volleyer to hit it. Thinking that your partner, who is behind you, will hit a better shot than you can is negative thinking. Many teams cannot move up because of this thinking.
 
Remember, take the gun out of the holster every time your opponents hit the ball, whether you get to hit the ball or not, keep them guessing. Your partner will be watching the ball with his gun out of the holster and ready to hit the ball if you don't.
 
Good luck on the courts!
 

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

John Mills currently teaches tennis at the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus. 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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