If you have watched any professional doubles matches you have
probably noticed that there are times when many receiving teams
elect to play both back at the baseline. Why would players
that are so talented decide to use this strategy? Isn't this
more of a tactic used by beginning doubles teams? After all,
weren't most players taught to start the receiving team with
one player at the baseline and the other at the service line?
Actually playing both players back can be a good strategy for
teams at all levels given the right situation.
Power is playing a bigger role in tennis these days. Even at
lower levels a player can control a match if he/she can
overpower the opponent with a strong serve or forehand. Smart
doubles teams realize the importance of a good return against
big serves and aggressive net players. Remember that the
serve and return are the two most important shots in the game.
So what do you do when you are facing that explosive serve and
you are having some problems getting back a decent return?
The smart move could be to move both players back to the
baseline on the receiving team.
Remember the server is not only trying to get the ball in play
but hopefully force you into a weak return that sets up his/her
partner for an easy put away volley. A floating return will
allow the server's partner to put the ball at the feet of the
receiver's partner. Most often I see doubles team continue a
match just having this happen to them over and over hoping that
they will eventually be able to get the return back effectively.
A simple positioning change in moving back could change
everything. It will make the receiver feel more comfortable
knowing that there isn't as much pressure on the return. The
receiver isn't going to get his partner smoked every time with
a weaker return. This will also allow the receiver to try more
shots without fear of a quick volley at his partner every time.
And think how much better the receiver's partner will feel
against the explosive server. Moving back to the baseline will
allow them more time to judge those quick volleys when a weak
return is hit. Of course, after a successful return is placed
past the net player, both players can rush the net as usual if
that is the game plan. The key is to successfully get the ball
back in play without setting up your opponent each time.
This strategy has worked for some of the best doubles teams in
the world and can work for you. The next time you are
struggling with the return in doubles, move your partner back
and see if you win a few more points.