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View Full Version : Doubles strategies, gimme your ideas!


sanitarium
08-22-2004, 12:08 PM
I've got a few tournaments coming up with diff doubles partners, wondering what kind of strategies might be good.

I have one partner who doesn't have a great serve and is a "ok" volleyer - Possibly two back when returning and on my serve two up?

And another partner is a hard server/ good volleyer so probably two up?

If you want more details on their game or mine let me know, i'm a lefty big serve decent volley.

JohnThomas1
08-22-2004, 04:04 PM
Just remember doubles at most levels is won at the net. The other thing is the middle, the faster you can agree on or sort out the middle ball when you are both at the net the better.

kevhen
08-23-2004, 08:21 AM
Doubles at the lower levels is often lost at the net.

Play aggressive and up at net with the hard server-good volleyer but you may want to play more two back with with the weaker server and weaker volleyer, since he must have pretty strong groundstrokes to be playing doubles at your level then. Sounds like you have it figured out already and will just need to see how it goes. Do you play the ad court since you are lefty?

lendl lives
08-23-2004, 08:54 AM
1. when in doubt go down the middle hard.
2. play singles and use only the cross court half of the court. gives you work on creating anlges.

dozu
08-23-2004, 09:55 AM
make sure you put the first serve in. (reduce a little pace and add spin).

play 2 back against strong server / volleyer.

go down the middle (see above).

at the net, when you see a high floater, attack opp's net player, at his feet.

doubles are all about angles...... too much to explain.. when u play more u will understand more.... u will develop some instinct on where to hit the shot based on where ur partner is... e.g. my partner is at the net, both opps at the net, I am at the baseline, what are my options:

1. lob (always a good option no matter what opp's formation)
2. pass down the middle, always good option.
3. pass cross court, good option, because your partner is in position to respond to the volley coming back.
4. pass down the line, BAD option, your partner is useless if a volley comes back.

like anything, practise makes it good.

also, lots of communications with your partner, not only so that you are on the same page, this is also to show your opps that you are in control.

things I communication to my partner: where I am gonna serve next.. he pass down the line too much... he needs to play 2 back if their serve is strong... etc.

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 11:16 AM
make sure you put the first serve in. (reduce a little pace and add spin).

play 2 back against strong server / volleyer.

go down the middle (see above).

at the net, when you see a high floater, attack opp's net player, at his feet.

doubles are all about angles...... too much to explain.. when u play more u will understand more.... u will develop some instinct on where to hit the shot based on where ur partner is... e.g. my partner is at the net, both opps at the net, I am at the baseline, what are my options:

1. lob (always a good option no matter what opp's formation)
2. pass down the middle, always good option.
3. pass cross court, good option, because your partner is in position to respond to the volley coming back.
4. pass down the line, BAD option, your partner is useless if a volley comes back.

like anything, practise makes it good.

also, lots of communications with your partner, not only so that you are on the same page, this is also to show your opps that you are in control.

things I communication to my partner: where I am gonna serve next.. he pass down the line too much... he needs to play 2 back if their serve is strong... etc.

Dozu, this is excellent. I was not quite sure how to answer this post. But I think you summed it up quite nicely. The only thing I would add about the two back postioning is (it is a good position based on what you said) the team that stays back really needs to have solid service returns, groundstrokes and lobs otherwise the two front will have them for lunch.

kevhen
08-23-2004, 12:13 PM
No you don't need solid service return when playing two back since you already have both players in a good defensive position. You need a better return of serve when playing one up. You do need good groundstrokes and lobs and hope your opponents vollies aren't the sharpest at least on one side usually backhand that you can pick on with your low passing shots and you do need some wheels to run everything down and good consistency from the baseline.

good-great volleyers will beat good baseliners though but it still may be the best strategic matchup if your volleys aren't as good as your opponents.

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 12:26 PM
No you don't need solid service return when playing two back since you already have both players in a good defensive position. You need a better return of serve when playing one up. You do need good groundstrokes and lobs and hope your opponents vollies aren't the sharpest at least on one side usually backhand that you can pick on with your low passing shots and you do need some wheels to run everything down and good consistency from the baseline.

good-great volleyers will beat good baseliners though but it still may be the best strategic matchup if your volleys aren't as good as your opponents.

Kevhen I dont think you are right about this:

"you don't need solid service return when playing two back since you already have both players in a good defensive position".

If a two back formation does not have good service returns, that team will make a lot of hitting errors and placement errors. IT will be very easy for a two up formation to beat a two back formation without good service returns.

I understand what you saying that if your reciever is not a good returner that you should play back, but that is because you will be poached and the hole between you will be very hard to cover. In this case, you are retreating because you are being forced to retreat and you will still have a clear disadvantage without a good return game. You are just trying "plug up" the holes so the boat doesnt sink quite as fast.

But if it is a NORMAL formation that a team uses, they need to have good service returns that dive at the incoming servers feet or a good service return to pin the server back or a good service return to keep the poacher at bay so the two back formation can be more effective and play in more nuetralized points then being very defensive on every point.

A big area in doubles is to at least have a "decent" return game, it is almost as important as a good serve if not equal.

dozu
08-23-2004, 01:27 PM
make sure you put the first serve in. (reduce a little pace and add spin).

play 2 back against strong server / volleyer.

go down the middle (see above).

at the net, when you see a high floater, attack opp's net player, at his feet.

doubles are all about angles...... too much to explain.. when u play more u will understand more.... u will develop some instinct on where to hit the shot based on where ur partner is... e.g. my partner is at the net, both opps at the net, I am at the baseline, what are my options:

1. lob (always a good option no matter what opp's formation)
2. pass down the middle, always good option.
3. pass cross court, good option, because your partner is in position to respond to the volley coming back.
4. pass down the line, BAD option, your partner is useless if a volley comes back.

like anything, practise makes it good.

also, lots of communications with your partner, not only so that you are on the same page, this is also to show your opps that you are in control.

things I communication to my partner: where I am gonna serve next.. he pass down the line too much... he needs to play 2 back if their serve is strong... etc.

Dozu, this is excellent. I was not quite sure how to answer this post. But I think you summed it up quite nicely. The only thing I would add about the two back postioning is (it is a good position based on what you said) the team that stays back really needs to have solid service returns, groundstrokes and lobs otherwise the two front will have them for lunch.

Just want to add that at the club level, very often there is a SIGNIFICANT difference between the skill levels of the two opps, in that case all the paper strategies are out of the window and I send every ball to the weaker one's way. to me that is the ultimate percentage tennis, and I will keep milking that cow till the last point.

I also make sure I communicate to my partner if he hasn't recognized it yet.

kevhen
08-23-2004, 01:59 PM
Yes, return of serve in doubles is just as important or even more important since there is less open court to hit into. Playing one up with a weak returner though means that the up player will be have to make many shoestring vollies. If he were back at the baseline, he would have an easier shot to make with much more time and the ball more likely in a better hitting zone. If I am playing with a very weak server or weak returner, I will play two back so that I can become more useful than sitting vulnerable at net. If you want to play one up in these situations that is your choice.

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 02:04 PM
Yes, return of serve in doubles is just as important or even more important since there is less open court to hit into. Playing one up with a weak returner though means that the up player will be have to make many shoestring vollies. If he were back at the baseline, he would have an easier shot to make with much more time and the ball more likely in a better hitting zone. If I am playing with a very weak server or weak returner, I will play two back so that I can become more useful than sitting vulnerable at net. If you want to play one up in these situations that is your choice.

Exactly my point and the point you're making. It is a very defensive strategy if you have to move back because of your partner.

But if you want to play two back as your normal strategy it is a very important to possess good service returns to offest the offensive strength and your giving up ground to stay in the match and hopefully win it.

kevhen
08-23-2004, 02:13 PM
Yeah, service return is important but the key is to put the ball at the net rushers feet on his first and second volley and then the point will usually be the returners.

How often do the returners win in doubles? singles? For me it seems like I break about the same amount of time 30-40% in singles and doubles playing against equals. I would think it might be harder to break in doubles but it doesn't seem like it.

In mixed doubles, I don't think I have been broken in like 25 service games at the 4.0 tournament level last summer, but maybe I did lose once or twice.

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 03:38 PM
Yeah, service return is important but the key is to put the ball at the net rushers feet on his first and second volley and then the point will usually be the returners.

How often do the returners win in doubles? singles? For me it seems like I break about the same amount of time 30-40% in singles and doubles playing against equals. I would think it might be harder to break in doubles but it doesn't seem like it.

In mixed doubles, I don't think I have been broken in like 25 service games at the 4.0 tournament level last summer, but maybe I did lose once or twice.

Exactly, but the service returner still has to get it there. If they reply with a weak return all the time, the netman on the other side and the server will know to attack that weakness for the error or to get an easier ball to volley and get the two back formation in a very defensive position.

I think we are seeing eye to eye on this.

kevhen
08-24-2004, 06:58 AM
But in two back you are in better position to handle the volley return after a weak service return.

With a strong service returner for a partner, you are better off starting in the one up position where you can go on the net attack after your partner has made a nice deep return.

I don't see how we are eye to eye on this. You have spoken opposite of what I have in this matter.

Bungalo Bill
08-24-2004, 12:13 PM
But in two back you are in better position to handle the volley return after a weak service return.

With a strong service returner for a partner, you are better off starting in the one up position where you can go on the net attack after your partner has made a nice deep return.

I don't see how we are eye to eye on this. You have spoken opposite of what I have in this matter.

Ok Kevhen,

Obviously, you have your own mind made up. Never mind the fact that two people at the net and a weak service return opens a lot of angles for your opponents. If you're thinking the two netman are going to hit it back to you, you are still gambling on whether your team is going to have a good ball to hit a strong groundstroke from.

Am I not seeing something here? Is this difficult to understand? Or do you just want to see it as one guy hits, another guy hits, one guy hits, another guy hits....

I can lead a horse to water, but I cant make it drink....so here is some water....

Two back is THE most defensive position in doubles. You are defending nearly all the time. The return of serve is a defensive shot. It turns slightly more offensive on a second serve. But it is still a defensive or nuetralizing shot.

You need a good defensive return of serve if you are going to use the two back formation. You need to possess good groundstrokes. You need to have both of these because you are giving away a lot of court and angles for you opponents to either hit a winner, drop it for a winner, or angle the ball in such a way that it "parts the waters" between you leaving you with a difficult coverage position.

There's the water.....

kevhen
08-24-2004, 12:28 PM
Do you not have your own mind already made up?

From watching and playing doubles, I see way too many people making unforced errors in their rush to get to net and by standing on the service court line and being forced to hit low vollies. Playing two back has it's benefits especially when returning first serves.

The team that gets to net first does not always win the most points. The returner team can gain the net back by throwing up a good lob and then moving in if they feel gaining the net is to their advantage.

There are many ways to play winning doubles and many ways to play tennis at all the various levels and I don't plan to ever drink your brand of water or koolaid. I don't mind being a black sheep or playing devil's advocate at times. I play the brand of tennis that I find is most successful for my partner and myself and maybe it will work for others as well if they are interested in trying those ideas.

Bungalo Bill
08-24-2004, 12:40 PM
Do you not have your own mind already made up?

From watching and playing doubles, I see way too many people making unforced errors in their rush to get to net and by standing on the service court line and being forced to hit low vollies. Playing two back has it's benefits especially when returning first serves.

The team that gets to net first does not always win the most points. The returner team can gain the net back by throwing up a good lob and then moving in if they feel gaining the net is to their advantage.

There are many ways to play winning doubles and many ways to play tennis at all the various levels and I don't plan to ever drink your brand of water or koolaid. I don't mind being a black sheep or playing devil's advocate at times. I play the brand of tennis that I find is most successful for my partner and myself and maybe it will work for others as well if they are interested in trying those ideas.

So if they make errors getting to net, the solution to all their trouble is to play two back? DON'T THINK SO!!! The better solution is to teach them to get to net properly.

Yeah, I do have my mind made up on WHY the two back formation needs to have a good return of serve. But I have provided examples. You have no examples, except that you somehow think on a weak serve return you are always going to have an easy ball to hit.

Give me some solid reasons so I can change my mind. And if you bring up the pros, you better know your stuff.

kevhen
08-24-2004, 12:46 PM
Tennis is alot about time and timing and if you opponent at net is poaching on your partner's return and hammering balls at your feet, you are in no position and with no time to make a decent volley or half volley. If you are instead at the baseline, you are not an easy target for the poacher, and have more time to run balls down and be a help rather than a hindrance to your weak returning partner in trying to win the point. Play doubles how you like, I am not trying to change your mind.

Bungalo Bill
08-24-2004, 12:55 PM
Tennis is alot about time and timing and if you opponent at net is poaching on your partner's return and hammering balls at your feet, you are in no position and with no time to make a decent volley or half volley. If you are instead at the baseline, you are not an easy target for the poacher, and have more time to run balls down and be a help rather than a hindrance to your weak returning partner in trying to win the point. Play doubles how you like, I am not trying to change your mind.

Kevhen, that is an example of changing your strategy to fix a problem. You will still have a glaring weakness on that side. Moving back is a band aid solution to a two up formation that is superior in doubles unless you posses what I said above.

I want to know what a doubles team needs to have in their arsenals to win tournaments with a two back formation. If you were a coach what would you want.

kevhen
08-24-2004, 01:01 PM
As coach I would suggest two back on return of serve and only if the opponent's serve was big or my students' returns were weak. Also only if those players have better passing shots than vollies.

For me that is the case so then it depends on my partners weak return or my opponent's big serve if I play back.

The other time to play back is if you partner has a really weak serve and the opponents are passing or ripping at you at net. So instead of being a target, you play back and go to work on defense.

Also sometimes it's good to change up formations to mess up the oponent when things aren't going your way.

Bungalo Bill
08-24-2004, 01:13 PM
So you think with a two back combination the arsenal of a weak returner will help the team win tournaments if you were going up against teams that took the net?

kevhen
08-24-2004, 01:21 PM
I would not play tournaments with a weak returner and expect to win regardless of the formation used.

I am just talking about winning the maximum number of points with a given weak returning partner. I think playing back allows the team to win more points in my situation. I have a good half volley, but weak low volley so I would rather back up and hit passing shots and lobs where I am pretty sure I win more points that way than positioned on the service line like every other club player.

I think Suarez-Paulo women's #1 doubles team sometimes have the returner's partner in no-man's land, ready to move in on a good return or to move back on a weak return.

kevhen
08-24-2004, 01:31 PM
I did play a 3 setter against superior volleyers with a semi-weak returner who had wheels and could play defense from the baseline with me. He has a great volley so I pushed him to net as much as possible but I played back on return and we won the second set 6-2 off a more experienced doubles team with excellent vollies by playing two back on my partner's return before they adjusted and we lost the third set 6-3.

Bungalo Bill
08-24-2004, 01:42 PM
oh, ok :shock:

papa
08-24-2004, 05:05 PM
Kevhen: I think two back for return of service can be effective - depending on the server. Starting to see more of this two back formation and it seems to be effective. Does eliminate the poach which can win a lot of points.

There have been times when I have reverted to two back on serve if my partner is just offering up "butter-balls" and being close to the net does not seem prudent for a variety of reasons. If you can't handle a fast return, volley or are unwilling to poach, you might just as well be back - if nothing else it might throw your opponent off (at least for a little while anyway).

I think BB is right however, the best way is to learn to play the position, pay attentionand keep the racquet up. I've seen some players so scared of playing net that they actually stand in the alley just praying the ball isn't hit to them.

fastdunn
08-24-2004, 07:16 PM
Kevhen: I think two back for return of service can be effective - depending on the server. Starting to see more of this two back formation and it seems to be effective. Does eliminate the poach which can win a lot of points.


Wtaching tennis on TV, more and more of returners are winning
with passing shots and rocket launching groundies...
I see women's doubles at gland slams and even mens doubles
at olympic winning with angled ground strokes and passing shots...

Volleys are still crucial in doubles but I'm getting dis-couraged
more and more when I tried to serve AND volley..... even in doubles......

Chanchai
08-25-2004, 12:07 AM
Well... I think the "current" doubles strategies that work best for you and your partner is one that makes use of your strengths as long as you are comfortable using those strengths, and ideally, covering gaps presented by your weaknesses.

That said... I think it's in every doubles players' best interest to develop a netgame that best applies to doubles.

But when you're already playing competitively or in a serious situation (league play or tournament), then I think ultimately what you have got to do is make use of what you're most comfortable doing and what you know is most effective and consistent for your current play.

It sounds obvious... but some people who couldn't volley to save their life in doubles will still feel forced to stand up 2 feet from the net (perhaps by their partner's urging them on) and frame a ton of volleys and just never feel ready to take on the ball.

However, two players at the net is usually able to close the doubles points when all things are equal, even with barely adequate netgames.

But let's say you suck at the net and you're in a serious match... And what if you feel comfortable with crosscourt groundstrokes and perhaps you even feel comfortable lobbing? Then I would say that if on the day, you can't go to net at all, you gotta use your strengths. Especially if you have that lob.

In the end though... even though there are ideals at most levels that aren't pro... such as the 2 up at net... I believe that when it's serious playing time, you have to play with strategies built around the combined strengths and minimizing the combined weaknesses of the team--not just you, but the team. Chemistry is huge in doubles and you gotta have at least an understanding of what you two do best.

I'm not a very good doubles player to be honest... But I do know that my best doubles matches have been with partners that understand that I'm better at controlling the point for a few strokes from the baseline until I feel I made a good enough aproach shot to the net, or I spread the opponent's formation enough for my partner to come in and poach and what not. Or once in awhile, an understanding that I can play one up one back decently at times, but that I will make an effort to go to the net--but I can't force myself up there. They'll also know that my serve often forces weak lob returns, so they'll be expecting various returns including those. And I'll have to of course understand what my partner does well and doesn't.

And all of that aside... I still keep this in mind: While I play better forcing baseline play and the one-up-one-back on my opponents... I keep working on my netgame so that I can better execute and supplement the two-up formation because ultimately it helps me as a doubles player and a tennis player in general. I believe that it's easier in general to force two people at net than one player on the baseline or that there are many holes in the one-up-one-back formation that are hard to cover up beyond a few crosses of the net.

Just my overly verbose thoughts as a developing tennis (singles and doubles) player.

-Chanchai

Phil
08-25-2004, 12:33 AM
Genghis Khan would have been a great doubles player...The best doubles strategy is one where you can effectively "break your enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all the things that have been theirs, to hear the weeping of those who cherished them."

My kind of doubles partner.

lendl lives
08-25-2004, 09:36 AM
phil sounds like the gonzalez masseu sp? strategy.....


btw do you all notice how posting advice helps your own game. played some doulbes last night and went down the middle all night!

kevhen
08-25-2004, 01:26 PM
Yeah, posting stuff gets you thinking about things to try and things to focus on that you might not otherwise think about during your downtime.

kevhen
08-25-2004, 01:40 PM
2 back worked last night (6-3, 7-6) against two good, aggressive volleyers playing two up. My partner, who I met through this forum likes playing two back too, so if the score was tight I would move back and play baseline while he was returning serve since he wasn't moving into net very much anyway.

Bungalo Bill
08-27-2004, 10:08 PM
2 back worked last night (6-3, 7-6) against two good, aggressive volleyers playing two up. My partner, who I met through this forum likes playing two back too, so if the score was tight I would move back and play baseline while he was returning serve since he wasn't moving into net very much anyway.

Good keep trying. That is one down and one hundred million to go.

kevhen
08-30-2004, 09:22 AM
Yeah, thanks. 2 back is a great formation when returning big serves or playing with another great baseliner for a partner.

penpal
08-30-2004, 02:09 PM
I certainly don't want to get between kevhen and BB here...but I'm going to anyway :)

kevhen, I think BB has a point here. I mean, if all of your partner's returns are floaters, whether it's because the serve is huge or because your partner's return game sucks, it's not going to matter what formation you play. One up, two back, one in the alley, one crying by the side of the court...if the returns are that bad, you're going to lose.

Now, judging by your recent victory, I would have to assume your partner isn't returning floaters every time. In fact, I'll bet most of his returns are at least decent (meaning, they are hit relatively low over the net), hence you are able to get shots off the volleys. So it seems to me what you are saying is, "my partner isn't returning far enough crosscourt to keep the net guy from poaching, and when he poaches I'm not a good enough volleyer to handle his volleys."

Nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with backing up as a strategy, but the strategy does agree with BB's point...the return has to be good for you to have a chance to win. If your partner is returning the majority of his balls low over the middle, that can probably be considered good enough at most levels.

I agree with BB, I think you two are on the same page, you're just not speaking the same language :D

kevhen
08-30-2004, 02:37 PM
Yeah, I hear you. If others want to stand on the service court line when waiting for their partner to return then that is their choice. If they want to try something different like playing two back when they aren't breaking serve at all, then that will be there choice as well. Good luck to all in whatever formation you choose to return from. I will be one up or two back depending on the situation. Curious to know if any others have success returning with 2 back.

Bungalo Bill
08-31-2004, 11:08 AM
Kehven,

My partner and I play two back on certain matches and were successful at times. However, at our level of play we did this knowing both of us had good return of serves which played havoc on our opponents "take charge" of the net formation (two up).

It is when the two netmen figure out how to handle our returns and baseline play that the two back formation begins to deteriorate. There are two many angles available for the two up formation to go to on weak groundstrokes, lobs, and return of serves. A good two up team will exploit the weaknesses quickly.

You will never find me disagreeing that the formation is not good. It is a defensive formation. My disagreement is since "groundstrokes and return of serves" are considered defensive replies in doubles, you need to be good in these areas in order to maintain a winning percentage.

kevhen
08-31-2004, 01:19 PM
I am glad to hear you gave it a try. It may not fit your game though as you sound like your volley is solid enough to play up and you may have lost a step or two to be able to cover enough ground along the baseline.

Yes, you need wheels to cover the angles and dropshots as well as strong passing shots or great lobs to be able to play this formation. Not everyone should do it. Return of serve needs to be just good enough the poacher can't sharp angle the ball for a winner, otherwise the rest can be run down with good wheels. Did I forget to say I am 6'4 with a long reach and good wheels? I wouldn't say it's strickly a defensive formation since you have some time to hit some awesome passing shots or lobs but it is a defensive formation overall for players with superior passing shots to their volley skills.

Bungalo Bill
08-31-2004, 02:42 PM
I am glad to hear you gave it a try. It may not fit your game though as you sound like your volley is solid enough to play up and you may have lost a step or two to be able to cover enough ground along the baseline.

Yes, you need wheels to cover the angles and dropshots as well as strong passing shots or great lobs to be able to play this formation. Not everyone should do it. Return of serve needs to be just good enough the poacher can't sharp angle the ball for a winner, otherwise the rest can be run down with good wheels. Did I forget to say I am 6'4 with a long reach and good wheels? I wouldn't say it's strickly a defensive formation since you have some time to hit some awesome passing shots or lobs but it is a defensive formation overall for players with superior passing shots to their volley skills.

Kehven,

I have been playing tennis since I was 8 years old. I am also a x-college player (San Diego State) and played #2 doubles. When it comes to tennis, I don't give things a "try" anymore. I have pretty much been through what is possible and have heard most of the garbage out there.

I have played all the formations Kehven, I teach doubles strategy and also am a USPTA Certified tennis pro. So I dont "try" formations - they are already part of my game.

If we feel as a doubles team that we are getting nowhere with other formations, we will move to a two back formation and try to regroup and figure something out. Or, if we feel we can beat the other doubles team in a two back formations because of our strategic matchups we will move to that strategy. But we move to the strategy based on that we are strong returners and strong with our groundstrokes. Our goal is to control the net in any formation.

Our preference is NOT to use this formation and will consider using the I formation, the Australian formation, or the two-up formation before moving to a two back formation.

So please don't mess around with my words, I dont "try" things.

I really could careless if you're 6' 4" with a long reach - it doesnt matter in this strategy as you have opened the angles. I am 6'2", so what?

It is still a doubles strategy that REQUIRES a strong return of serve and good groundstrokes. All of the other stuff you mentioned above also has to be considered which makes this formation more on the defensive with a lot of ground to cover.

kevhen
09-01-2004, 07:07 AM
Too bad it doesn't work for you at the level you play at. I wouldn't think it would work too well at the higher levels against strong volleyers but it works just fine at the 3.5 and even 4.0 levels and even works better when you are struggling with making good return of serves.

I have also played Australian which I like and think it's useful for a strong server who can now serve from the center T, if he has good wheels to cover behind him and gives the netman more time to react be farther from the returner if the server's groundstrokes or second serve are short or weak.

But I usually play the normal formations since most partners prefer to play standard doubles. But I enjoy mixing things up if my partner is flexible.

Bungalo Bill
09-01-2004, 10:02 AM
Too bad it doesn't work for you at the level you play at. I wouldn't think it would work too well at the higher levels against strong volleyers but it works just fine at the 3.5 and even 4.0 levels and even works better when you are struggling with making good return of serves.

I have also played Australian which I like and think it's useful for a strong server who can now serve from the center T, if he has good wheels to cover behind him and gives the netman more time to react be farther from the returner if the server's groundstrokes or second serve are short or weak.

But I usually play the normal formations since most partners prefer to play standard doubles. But I enjoy mixing things up if my partner is flexible.

I really don't think you feel bad about anything. I think you just want to continue to argue that a two back formation is a good formation even if you have a weak return of serve. Which I have already stated reasons it is not.

Actually it does work at the level I play at but it is determined if the team is confident about whether they can return serve and has confidence in their groundstrokes.

If you saw any of the tennis olympics, you should have seen Fernando Gonzalez/Nicolas Massu of Chile beat Nicolas Kiefer/Rainer Schuettler of Germany for the gold medal. The Chileans used the two back formation which I thought was a good formation for that team. They both possess outstanding groundstrokes and excellent return of serves.

Additionally, with the Chileans predominantly clay court players, I thought the coach chose the right formation against the German team for the gold. The Chileans were not stronger than the German team at the net and this proved to be the case in the five set match during the second and third set 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4. Clearly, Gonzales and Massu had the weapons to fend off the clearly superior two up formation.

The coach felt that the best strategic matchup was to go return of serve/groundstrokes vs. serve/volleys and they pulled it out.

With a strong return of serve and solid groundstrokes you can turn a defensive formation into an offensive formation and cause the opposing two up formation to not be able to get clean angles or shots to put the two back formation in a very defensive position with a lot of court to hit to.

I really think Kehven you just don't want to hear what I am saying so you can learn when is the appropriate time to use a two back formation. In the case you're presenting, the two back formation is still a weaker formation with a weak returner because you haven't addressed the need to make that formation strong in order to make that formation effective.

Obviously, you can win at your level (I know that and you now know that) with a two back formation but that is until you run into a team that starts figuring it out and can open the middle of the court more and can use the angles you leave open. You just don't have strong enough weapons to offset their new play on the ball.

When a better team knows you are playing two back, this team will hit short volleys and angled volleys, they will also hit directly down the middle to get both of you to commit and open the court in the alleys providing them more opportunities. Of course, this all depends on whether that team can execute the shots and can remain consistent with a slight change in the game plan.

At your level of play, you run into hackers and players that are still learning their strokes. So you can get away with it for now having a weak return of serve. But it is still a last resort strategy with a weak returner.

Bill Tilden said

Tennis singles is a game of speed, doubles a game of finesse.


Bill Tilden

When you run into more and more teams that can finesse the ball, you will soon see the weakness in the two back formation and why I say you need a strong return of serve and groundstrokes to be effective with that formation.

kevhen
09-01-2004, 10:12 AM
The level I play doubles at is with very strong 4.0s who are not hackers, but these are guys who win 4.0 tournaments so very close to 4.5 level.

Thanks for fueling the fire and mentioning how the Chileans won playing two back. Suarez/Pascal do the same thing and win on the women's side often returning from two back.

So maybe it works playing two back at all levels. I am just surprised how few club players play two back, but many of them don't think about how many points they are losing while standing on the service line missing low volleys that they could have won back at the baseline with more time and an easier ball to hit.

Thanks for the info about Gonzo and Massu's success playing two back. I missed that match!

I will never think 2 back is a weak formation no matter what you say, unless the opposing volleyers have great dropshots or can sharp angle their vollies for winners. It takes alot of touch to do that and most players don't have it these days. The times they are a changing.

kevhen
09-01-2004, 11:03 AM
What formation should you use if both you and your partner are struggling with your opponent's serve and the opposing netman is hitting them at your feet or in the hole between the you and your returning partner? Why not 2 back in that case?

Bungalo Bill
09-01-2004, 11:16 AM
What formation should you use if both you and your partner are struggling with your opponent's serve and the opposing netman is hitting them at your feet or in the hole between the you and your returning partner? Why not 2 back in that case?

Two back is correct. But remember they are taking you out of your original strategy and making you play more defensively. Now it will be your ability to pound groundstrokes, lob or hit effective returns that will help you win. In this case, you are correct you got to do something.

Here is more reading about the strengths and weaknesses of the two-back formation.

http://www.operationdoubles.com/

Go to Tennis Doubles Strategy and go to Two Back. Study the strengths and weaknesses using this formation and develop your team accordingly if you want to use this strategy.

kevhen
09-01-2004, 11:32 AM
Thanks for the good debate and web link.

lendl lives
09-01-2004, 02:52 PM
ok how about this one. i've her mcenroe say if a righty and lefty play the lefty usually takes the ad court. but often you hear on the courts players say 'great lets have two forehands in the middle'. what do you guys think.

Bungalo Bill
09-01-2004, 03:26 PM
The majority of the best doubles teams have the lefty in the ad court. It is not a rule.

Lefties have an uncanny knack for running around their backhands and pounding a forehand. That is how my partner and I setup. But again it is not a rule. There are other reasons as well.

The thing about forehands towards the middle is a low level approach to doubles. That "saying" is found in beginner to intermediate doubles. It is because in doubles a lot of balls get hit up the middle and with strength covering the middle it "forces" your opponents to hit a more difficult shot towards the alleys to your backhand if they decide to keep it away from your forehands

As you get better, the forehands to the middle isnt as strong of an argument to have. Good doubles teams know that if the opponent hits the ball to the middle that is diagnol ffrom them, they cover the middle while their partner mirrors the opponent hitting the ball in front of them "forcing" the ball to stay between your team and therefore you maintain your position and ground.

kreative
09-01-2004, 04:55 PM
from what i've seen, it's usually forehands to the outside (righty duece/lefty ad) b/c forehands can be hit well on the run while chasing down angle volleys and such. shots down the middle will give you time to setup to hit you backhand (especially helpful for 2 handers)

i have seen the opposite thou, w/ forehands in the middle for a few reasons/strategies:

1) poaching: most poach better w/ forehand volleys, and w/ this setup, both forehand volleys are in the middle, ready for the solid poach.

2) many serve down the center "T" to take away return angles, and to setup the volleyer for an easy poach, and since most people have better forehands than backhands, with your forehand in the middle, it would be a more effective return against these serves.

i believe the bryan bros play lefty bob in duece and mike in ad right?

kevhen
09-02-2004, 07:29 AM
I thought at the higher levels, players put their strength shot closer to the center of the court since most balls are played down the middle.

I know lately I have serving almost exclusively up-the-T (with the hard slice or hard topspin) in doubles and winning many easy service points since the opponents are putting there better return side on the outside. So I avoid their stronger wing and give them smaller return angles so my partner at net can do more as well.

kevhen
09-13-2004, 02:32 PM
I was amazed at how many top doubles teams were playing two back, with the non-returner standing in no man's land instead of at the baseline to help cover dropshots and wide angle vollies.

I still think you are better off just pulling this player all the way back to the baseline, and as the passage of time has gradually moved this non-returner from the service court line to no-man's land, and maybe eventually they will just start out at the baseline.

jediknightdan
09-17-2004, 01:22 PM
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