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Hardscrabble Scramble
December 2001 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Way To Cover Your Line

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Mike Whittington

Most doubles players have heard "watch your alley" but what exactly does that mean? For most players, it means don't let the opponent get a shot passed the server's partner. Obviously we don't want any shot to get by us but there are a couple of things you can do to make sure that those down the line winners against you aren't so frequent.

One of the most important things to remember is when to move. Most players remember to move when a ball goes out wide but sometimes that isn't good enough. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have already moved wide and are in a good ready position by the time the receiver hits the ball. This way you can move in and hit an aggressive volley rather than lunging to make contact. Having your line or alley covered means you are in position to hit the shot not just making contact to prevent a clean winner.

Another important thing to remember is that a down the line shot is more likely off of a wide serve. Communicate with your partner so that you know when that will be coming. If your partner can't let you know that he/she might hit wide, it is going to be difficult for you to get the jump on the receiver. If you are having problems getting passed, you might encourage your partner to attempt more serves into the body or down the center service line. Servers need to know where there serve is going! The server's partner gets blamed for the pass but it's the server that either sets up an offensive volley or a struggling one.

Work on your movement at the net. Not only will you increase the number of shots that you get but you will decrease the number of winners your opponents hit down the line. Remember to poach or fake but never stand still. If you react to your partner's serve rather than your opponent's shot, you will definitely be more prepared to cover your line.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


 

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