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March 2014 Article

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Position of Receiver's Partner

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John Mills, USPTA

This month I would like to discuss the position of the receiver's partner on the doubles court. I consider this position the most difficult of all for basic doubles positions. The other three positions include, server, the server's partner and the receiver.

  • Stand on the service line where you can get a clear view of the serve. Your job is to call the ball "Fault" if it is outside the line. Note: Let your partner (the receiver) call the long (side) lines of the service box. He or she can see those better than you.

  • Stand approximately halfway between the center service line and the singles line. Remember that 80 percent of all balls go down the middle. Many players stand closer to the service line in an effort to cut off the middle of the opposing players poach off the serve return.

  • After you see the serve is in, listen to your partner's return (do not look back, which is very dangerous if your partner miss-hits the return). Watch the opposing net player's racquet. If that racquet hits the ball, expect it to come at you. Play a defensive shot and try to return it away from the attacking player.

  • If the opposing net player does not poach, slide two or three feet toward the outside of the court (still on the service line). At this point, you are now playing against the server, who can hit a high percentage shot down your alley.

  • Next, if you notice the server is staying behind the baseline, move forward halfway between the service line and the net, assuming an offensive position.

  • Consider these options if the server is moving forward to volley:
    1. If your partner's return is low, allowing the server to hit up, move forward halfway between the service line and the net, assuming an offensive position.

    2. If your partner's return is high, allowing the server to hit down at you and attack you, move to the outside of the court two to three feet. Assume that you are a target and you need to protect your alley. You are now in a defend position. Try to make a reflex shot and protect yourself.
Now you can see why I believe the receiver's partner is the toughest position to play in doubles.
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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