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October 2013 Article

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Before Losing in Doubles: Try These Position Changes

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John Mills, USPTA

  • Having a hard time returning your opponent's first serve? Ask your partner to stand back with you on the baseline. If you hit a high return you will not get your partner killed. If the server misses the first serve then move your partner back up to the service line in the traditional up and back position. This will take pressure off the receiver.

  • Your partner's serve is so soft/weak that you are getting attacked all the time while at the net. Move back to the baseline with your partner and wait for a short ball to attack the net position. At least this way you can move to the net under your own conditions.

  • You are serving to the ad-court and the receiver's return constantly pulls you wide off the court. Play "Australian." Place your partner near the net and close to the centerline on the same side as you are serving. This will take away the extreme cross-court and allows you to hit the serve and cross over to the opposite half to return the down the line return. It can work on both sides to take away an opponents strength.

  • You are on the baseline and the next shot goes to your partner at the net. Go to the net and join him or her. Remember, no one is paying attention to you. Gain the offense.

  • Your opponent's serve is very average to weak; however, you cannot seem to gain the offense. Try, especially on the weaker second serve, moving in behind your return and take the offense. Another tactic is to move in behind the return, but hit it soft and short, like a chip. This will force the server to come in and hit up on the ball while you and your partner can gain the offense. You can also return the serve short, move back, then pass or lob your opponent when he or she comes in.

  • Always remember to follow all your successful lobs; all lobs that go in and over the opposing net player's head, to the net. Usually, you will receive a lob, which you can hit as a winning overhead.

  • If you get in a "lobbing war," remember, you can take lobs out of the air and move in, instead of letting them bounce where you will probably lose the "lob war."

  • Over 80% of all shots in doubles are hit down the middle of the court. When you and your partner are at the net, worry about the middle before you worry about the alleys.

  • If your opponents seldom lob, stand near the net. If they lob often, stand back at least 2 steps and "rule out" the lob before worrying about the volley.

  • Remember to "shift" with your partner at the net. "Rule of thumb" is to try to stay 12 feet from your partner at all times.

You might be losing in part because you and your partner are in a "rut" concerning your positions. Keep changing your positions and keep your opponents guessing. It is still more fun to think and move.
Good luck on the court!

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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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