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Cindysphinx
05-03-2007, 11:17 AM
I played doubles today in practice. My partner was your typical 3.0.

Throughout the match, I was getting increasingly irritated that she never, ever, for any reason, no how, no way, will not come from the baseline to the net.

See, I was trying to play the net very aggressively when I started at net. This is partly because I just worked on it during my last lesson and partly because I think i can win a lot of points up there. If my partner hit a deep shot, I tried to carefully watch the returner and figure out where she was going to hit. If I put the ball away, fine.

If I didn't put the ball away, I tried to get the next one. And the next one. And the whole time, I'm thinking: "Where the bleeeeeeep is my partner?" I felt pressure to take every ball I could reach during these rallies because I had no clue where she was and whether she could reach it if I let it go by. So I found myself doing all this *work* feeling like I'm playing singles at net against two opponents.

And afterward, on the way to the car, she says something about how I could let some of those balls go because she's fast enough to get them back. :roll:

OK. I have resigned myself to the fact that there simply isn't another person on my team who will come to net. I cannot continue to live my tennis life urging people to come to the net who don't want to do it. It's a waste of perfectly good oxygen. So I have to figure out what to do with my own game in these situations.

When you are one-up, one-back and you're at net, what is the best strategy? Should I let the rally continue cross-court for longer until I get a ball I know I can kill for a winner? Should I relinquish the net and go to the baseline so at least we have built a wall? Should I just keep playing the way I'm playing, assume she has been struck by lightening so I'm on my own, and not worry about whether she ever comes up?

During the second set, I tried something I thought might help. I said, "Hey, let's have as a goal for this set to finish every point, win or lose, with both of us at net." She cheerfully agreed. And then every single time we finished two up, it was because I had come in to net from the baseline.

We won every single one of those points. Doh!!

cghipp
05-03-2007, 11:23 AM
I think you have got to find a way to get her up there more often! Maybe you could have someone on the sidelines keep some stats for you, and show them to your partner to demonstrate the importance of being at net. I struggle with this too - both with not getting to net as much as I want to, and with desperately wanting my partner to come to net!

Being both up at net will take you SO far in your league. When I'm up and my partner is back, and our opponents rush the net, I feel the pressure almost like a physical thing. It's not just a strategic advantage, but a huge psychological advantage as well. BUT you must BOTH have a good overhead to be able to do this; otherwise you'll be sitting ducks.

sapient007
05-03-2007, 11:36 AM
i was playing 3.0 women's doubles last night and was teamed up with some crazy aggressive woman. boy, she ran after every ball like a rapid retriever and didn't allow me to do any of the work. i applaud her for her energy, however i've just had lessons on baseline ground strokes and really wanted to work on it. she said something ~2nd set about going to the net, i nodded mostly in fear but couldn't quite make out what exactly she wanted. I ran as fast i could after the match.

spot
05-03-2007, 11:41 AM
You should stay up at the net until the other team goes to 2 up- maybe then it makes sense to go to 2 back. Otherwise you should position aggressively and make yourself a ****** up there. Normally at 3.0 women the net players are almost scenery up there. Wait for a ball that you can make an aggressive play on (not just get back over) and then jump in. Don't be afraid to GO a couple of times if people are getting in a rhythm- that will set up a fake poach.

Cindysphinx
05-03-2007, 11:44 AM
But . . . but why are you playing doubles if you want to work on your groundstrokes?

Winning doubles is about getting to the net and hitting volleys. Methinks your partner is pulling her hair out that you won't come in.

I so feel her pain . . . :)

I think maybe I will hit two volleys. If my partner still hasn't joined me by the third one, I will catch the ball, concede the point and then tell her that ball was hers to volley. :)

rasajadad
05-03-2007, 11:47 AM
I played doubles today in practice. My partner was your typical 3.0.

Throughout the match, I was getting increasingly irritated that she never, ever, for any reason, no how, no way, will not come from the baseline to the net.

See, I was trying to play the net very aggressively when I started at net. This is partly because I just worked on it during my last lesson and partly because I think i can win a lot of points up there. If my partner hit a deep shot, I tried to carefully watch the returner and figure out where she was going to hit. If I put the ball away, fine.

If I didn't put the ball away, I tried to get the next one. And the next one. And the whole time, I'm thinking: "Where the bleeeeeeep is my partner?" I felt pressure to take every ball I could reach during these rallies because I had no clue where she was and whether she could reach it if I let it go by. So I found myself doing all this *work* feeling like I'm playing singles at net against two opponents.

And afterward, on the way to the car, she says something about how I could let some of those balls go because she's fast enough to get them back. :roll:

OK. I have resigned myself to the fact that there simply isn't another person on my team who will come to net. I cannot continue to live my tennis life urging people to come to the net who don't want to do it. It's a waste of perfectly good oxygen. So I have to figure out what to do with my own game in these situations.

When you are one-up, one-back and you're at net, what is the best strategy? Should I let the rally continue cross-court for longer until I get a ball I know I can kill for a winner? Should I relinquish the net and go to the baseline so at least we have built a wall? Should I just keep playing the way I'm playing, assume she has been struck by lightening so I'm on my own, and not worry about whether she ever comes up?

During the second set, I tried something I thought might help. I said, "Hey, let's have as a goal for this set to finish every point, win or lose, with both of us at net." She cheerfully agreed. And then every single time we finished two up, it was because I had come in to net from the baseline.

We won every single one of those points. Doh!!

Cindy,
The best thing to do in the one up, one back strategy is to think of where you can find a proper doubles partner! If your partner is not playing proper doubles position...ditch them!

Cindysphinx
05-03-2007, 12:05 PM
You know, it's not that easy. For one thing, there are only 16 other people on this team. I have played with all but one of them at some point, in practice or matches. None will come to net. I'm totally stuck.

I am partnering with the 17th person on Tuesday. Maybe she will come to net . . .

MordredSJT
05-03-2007, 12:06 PM
Cindy,

When you are at the net in one up, one back you should actively look to volley the first ball that you can get. If your opponents are also one up and one back, avoid hitting it back to the player at the baseline. Hit it at the other net player's feet (or into the huge gaping hole between your opponents if you can manage), be ready for the next ball to come back, and try to end the point decisively in 2-3 shots at most. You shouldn't have to be hitting a lot of volleys during a point if you do this right...although sometimes stuff happens.

If your opponents are taking the net, I would still not relinquish my position. Hopefully your partner can come up with a good enough groundstroke to force a weak volley reply that you can pounce on, or she can lob effectively enough to force your opponents off of the net. If she can do neither of these things consistently then ask her how the hell she is planning on winning that match from the baseline. This is the point where you may consider moving back if she refuses to move up. This is more for your own safety than anything else because if she hits an easy ball up to your two opponents at the net she might get you killed...

kevhen
05-03-2007, 01:33 PM
Most 3.0s are very bad at net so they stay back (they are playing the percentages). Find a 3.5 partner who likes to play net too and start playing more 3.5 doubles. 3.5 players are usually somewhat better at net and understand doubles a little better. Alot of women just don't like going to net though! Play mixed!!!

Learn how to finish these balls that you get to. Keep going for them and being aggressive and encourage your partners to move up and complete the wall. Don't get too frustrated with them and feel like you are doing all the work. Relax and just go for vollies that you can finish if you are poaching and not finishing and your partner is not moving up.

cak
05-03-2007, 02:19 PM
I'm willing to be the odd man out on this. One, doubles is a team game. I think I'm about the same level as you. I should be able to construct my game around my partner so we can make the strongest team. (And, I've found, my partners also construct their games around my strengths.) If someone shows up whining about their partner, well, it just tells me they aren't all that good at teamwork, and maybe they should be playing singles. If they are whining about 16 out of 16 partners, well, they definitely should be playing singles. If, when their partner suggests a way they might play well together, and they roll their eyes, well, I'm thinking they really, really, really should be playing singles.(That comment on the way to the car, that she's fast enough to pick up the stuff you can't quite reach, that was what she was trying to do...)

My second point, if 16 out of 16 players aren't coming to net with me, I'd begin to look at my net play. Am I making it hard for them to come in? Am I setting up the other team with weak volley's they can lob or hit at my partner's feet? When they do lob am I running back for them, or do I leave them to my partner? Am I unpredictable about picking sides, so sometimes I switch after a poach, and sometimes I stay? Am I whiffing enough at net that they feel they need to back me up? I've had the experience of net players that I can't run in with, because of any or all of the above things. I have found that when they put it away it works well enough, that if I stay back to cover the rest we do well. I'm constructing my game around theirs. I've also had days I was doing all of the above, and yeah my partner stayed back while I played net hog, and we did well. I've also had many matches where my partner and I were in sync, and both ended up in almost every point. Yeah, that's nirvana. But unless we both are predictable at net it's not going to happen.

Cindysphinx
05-03-2007, 02:29 PM
Well, yeah.

Which is why I wrote this in my opening post: "So I have to figure out what to do with my own game in these situations."

I must say that I don't think "backing me up" is a decent reason to stay back, though. I mean, if I'm Mr. McGoo who is constantly whiffing balls, yeah. :)

That's not happening at all. What's happening is that my non-winner volley is what it is, and the other team will do with it what they do, but my partner's failure to come up causes me to play a lot of difficult, defensive volleys simply because I've no idea where on the court she is. It also lets the other team off the hook from the pressure I am trying to create at net, as they can get out of trouble by pushing the ball away from me and toward my baseline partner.

Also maddening is when I put a volley at their feet like I should, they pop it up like you'd expect, and my partner is so far back that she can't overhead or hit down on them.

So yeah, I gotta learn to play better in the sub-optimal formation my pro is constantly urging me to avoid.

lethalfang
05-03-2007, 02:38 PM
That happens to me quite often when I play mixed doubles. The woman/girl just wouldn't come to the net, and yet she has the balls to complain that I'm hogging the ball intended for her?
If you don't come in and volley, I will volley them for you!

LuckyR
05-03-2007, 02:41 PM
You have a couple of options:

1- Try to talk your team into playing better tennis. Good Luck! Probably not going to happen by your description of your team...

2- Play doubles suboptimally to suit their suboptimal game. Not fun...

3- Continue doing what you are doing, already unsatisfying...

4- Wish you never tried to improve your game and still looked at doubles the wy they do. That horse is already out of the barn...

5- Join a 3.5 team. Bingo! Given your posts and obvious knowledge and drive to get better I can't believe you couldn't play on a 3.5 team.

cak
05-03-2007, 03:26 PM
That's not happening at all. What's happening is that my non-winner volley is what it is, and the other team will do with it what they do, but my partner's failure to come up causes me to play a lot of difficult, defensive volleys simply because I've no idea where on the court she is. It also lets the other team off the hook from the pressure I am trying to create at net, as they can get out of trouble by pushing the ball away from me and toward my baseline partner.

Also maddening is when I put a volley at their feet like I should, they pop it up like you'd expect, and my partner is so far back that she can't overhead or hit down on them.

If you were talking about one partner I'd say working together on positioning, so you know where she is, would work. When you are talking about 16 partners, unless they've all been playing only a year, I'm thinking you need to take some doubles lessons from your pro. In general, if you poached your partner behind you has switched sides, and if your poach was a good poach she's coming in, if it was a mediocre poach she's waiting to see if they pop it over your head. If she is back she has all the time in the world to get to and make a shot, that most likely will be much less defensive than a weak volley. Even the super senior ladies can get to lobs over my head if they are playing back. Most senior ladies can get to a bad drop shot. If it's a good drop shot, you can go for it, but really, good drop shots are few and far between. In general, if you have a weak poach, no matter where she goes the opponents have the upper hand.

Sometimes, when my partner is having trouble putting the ball away at the net (note, not that she's not getting her volleys, she's not putting them away) I will play back until they get my partner gets her confidence back. I am purposely enticing them to hit it to me. If I can get the right groundstroke that makes them run in they will pop it up to my partner who will have an easy put away. It's called setting your partner up. Our pro teaches us to thank our partner when they set us up. When the other team thinks my partner can put anything away, it's worth it for me to come in.

Another idea is to let your partner take the short shots on her side. Don't cross over on cross court shots you don't have a good chance of putting away. Let the opponents bring her in. But then be ready to run down the lobs. If she comes in and then they lob you and you just watch you've reinforced why she was staying back in the first place.

If I am putting volley's at my opponents feet, I want it at the opponent right across from me, so they pop it up back to me. If you hit cross court they have a better chance of either going behind you or going to your partner. If you want the put aways at net, you want to the opponent straight across from you.

If my partner is staying back I sometimes back up to the service line. If you are a strong volleyer you should be able to volley from the service line. It means they can't easily lob me, so she doesn't have to cover that, and is more willing to come in.

Just some ideas to get all your team mates to come in. I think the biggest problem is you just don't have the net game yet to not get lobbed and passed. And your teammates like to try and win. The type of partner you really need is one that really isn't interested in winning, just going for good points. Look for ladies that don't keep score. Seriously. There are a ton of them out there. Heck, as a USTA captain one of the challenges in our lineup was not to put two of them together. The ones that never know the score don't feel the pressure to play it safe.

Cindysphinx
05-03-2007, 03:29 PM
I'm on a 3.5 team. Haven't played any matches, and it doesn't look good for reasons I described over in the Leagues forum.

There must be a way to make one-up, one-back work better. Maybe next time I'll ease off and only go for a ball if I am sure I can angle it for a winner . . .

103xStateChamp
05-03-2007, 03:34 PM
When I played doubles in USTA I went undefeated with the up and back formation but we were like 8. Our strategy was to hit the ball in the alleys lol

Solat
05-03-2007, 04:58 PM
Cindy,

go and poach every ball you can reach, if your partner complains tell her she can hit as many balls as she wants but she has to get to it before you do

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 04:39 AM
When you are talking about 16 partners, unless they've all been playing only a year, I'm thinking you need to take some doubles lessons from your pro.

My pro has an interesting take on the whole thing.

He says I need to just keep doing what I'm doing and take the view that we will sometimes lose matches we could win because of the poor positioning. That's just the way it goes. His advice for me in doubles is that I should be at the net unless someone has kidnapped me and chained me to the back fence. So he doesn't want me to lay off at all, and if I can reach it at net, it's my ball.

So maybe I just need to *expect* my partner to miss all kinds of opportunities for failure to move up. If I move up when I start at the baseline, we'll still finish 50% of the points two-up, after all.

I've certainly noticed something in my matches, however. Early in the first set, I get all kinds of net opportunities. Then the other team has a conference, and suddenly they start putting their cross-court returns too high for me to reach. This *should* allow my partner to advance and have some great high volleys or overheads. Nope. All that happens is it gets tougher for me to get a poach I can reach, so I am neutralized. I still haven't figured out a good strategy to counter this. And we've lost matches where we won the first set but lost the tie-break because we've no answer for this and my partner gets pinned in that back corner . . .

spot
05-04-2007, 04:50 AM
Cindy- you need to stop thinking about 2 up as the only way to win at doubles. There are tons of rec pairs who win nationals at much higher levels than you playing 1 up and 1 back. Just understand where the weaknesses are and do your best to reduce them. At some point you need to start adjusting to your partners instead of trying to make them adjust to you.

On high crosscourt shots- you want to move back to the service line so you can come across and take an overhead. IF they are just lobbing (and thats what it is) then you don't need to protect your line nearly as much so you should step back to where you are more effective.

MordredSJT
05-04-2007, 04:54 AM
Cindy,

In my opinion you should look at these matches as great learning experiences so that you can better deal with things when you do get bumped to 3.5 and eventually 4.0. You are only going to get better at the net by spending so much time up there. You are going to get better at dealing with awkward shots and out of position partners. You are going to get better at poaching. You are going to get better at hitting overheads.

Now, after your opponents make an adjustment...what adjustments do you make? Any? If you just keep doing exactly what you were doing and letting them have their way then you will probably lose. Have you ever thought of changing formation? Go Australian on them. Use the I-formation. Use planned poaches (possibly starting a little farther back if they are hitting consistently high and crosscourt). Make them think every time they hit a return so they can't just hit it high and crosscourt and be safe. If your partner isn't going to make them pay, then you can try...or at least make them think. Either way, it is better to be proactive than reactive.

sue20852
05-04-2007, 05:09 AM
If you were talking about one partner I'd say working together on positioning, so you know where she is, would work. When you are talking about 16 partners, unless they've all been playing only a year, I'm thinking you need to take some doubles lessons from your pro. In general, if you poached your partner behind you has switched sides, and if your poach was a good poach she's coming in, if it was a mediocre poach she's waiting to see if they pop it over your head. If she is back she has all the time in the world to get to and make a shot, that most likely will be much less defensive than a weak volley. Even the super senior ladies can get to lobs over my head if they are playing back. Most senior ladies can get to a bad drop shot. If it's a good drop shot, you can go for it, but really, good drop shots are few and far between. In general, if you have a weak poach, no matter where she goes the opponents have the upper hand.

Sometimes, when my partner is having trouble putting the ball away at the net (note, not that she's not getting her volleys, she's not putting them away) I will play back until they get my partner gets her confidence back. I am purposely enticing them to hit it to me. If I can get the right groundstroke that makes them run in they will pop it up to my partner who will have an easy put away. It's called setting your partner up. Our pro teaches us to thank our partner when they set us up. When the other team thinks my partner can put anything away, it's worth it for me to come in.

Another idea is to let your partner take the short shots on her side. Don't cross over on cross court shots you don't have a good chance of putting away. Let the opponents bring her in. But then be ready to run down the lobs. If she comes in and then they lob you and you just watch you've reinforced why she was staying back in the first place.

If I am putting volley's at my opponents feet, I want it at the opponent right across from me, so they pop it up back to me. If you hit cross court they have a better chance of either going behind you or going to your partner. If you want the put aways at net, you want to the opponent straight across from you.

If my partner is staying back I sometimes back up to the service line. If you are a strong volleyer you should be able to volley from the service line. It means they can't easily lob me, so she doesn't have to cover that, and is more willing to come in.

Just some ideas to get all your team mates to come in. I think the biggest problem is you just don't have the net game yet to not get lobbed and passed. And your teammates like to try and win. The type of partner you really need is one that really isn't interested in winning, just going for good points. Look for ladies that don't keep score. Seriously. There are a ton of them out there. Heck, as a USTA captain one of the challenges in our lineup was not to put two of them together. The ones that never know the score don't feel the pressure to play it safe.

Very good insight on teamwork. Thanks.

oldhacker
05-04-2007, 05:26 AM
Cindy - I think you may be expecting too much. I play mens doubles at about 4.0 level and while we do look to get 2 up when the opportunity arises we still play a lot of points 1 up one back. Also one of my regular partners is an exceptional baseliner and probably a 4.5 singles player (very accurate and consistant with great court coverage) but he is not comfortable moving forward to the net and I am a strong net player. So we often play matches where we are 1 up (me) and 1 back (him) most of the time and both appreciate each others strengths and play to them. When I am at the net I am constantly moving to shadow the ball, drop back to the T in case of a volley by the opposing net man, faking moves to the middles to try to draw a shot DTL or throw an opponent off his shot.

If you want to get a partner joining you at the net in matches I suggest you speak to possibles and find someone who would like to learn to play that way and then in your team practice sessions ask you coach to concentrate on volleying and net movement drills. One of my favourite drills is cross court volley rallies started from behind the service line and you have to move forward and split step after each volley and the winner is the one who touches the net with their racquet first while still making all their volleys. Good fun and a great way of getting you used to moving forward balanced and in control and volleying.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 05:47 AM
Hey, here's a question, and the answer might be at the root of my frustration:

True or false: If the opponents hit to the net person, the baseliner should move forward.

My pro scolds me if I stay at the baseline when my net partner gets a racquet on the ball. "What are you doing? Playing or watching? Get up there and help your partner!" and suchlike.

If this advice is incorrect -- if it is OK to stay at the baseline -- then maybe there isn't a problem. . . .

spot
05-04-2007, 06:02 AM
Cindy- ideally a baseline partner would come to the net when their net player takes a ball- but it doesn't mean that its WRONG to not do so. Its a great habit to get into- just like its a great habit to splitstep on every shot, to hit every volley through the hole, and to put overheads away. But it is OK to stay back- its not ideal but it is OK. Go out and watch a 4.0 mens league match- you will see MANY instances where the back player doesn't come up in this situatioon. You are expecting your partners to play a high level of doubles and you are at 3.0.

I think there is far too much emphasis on getting players to the net if they don't have an overhead. 2 up is the most vulnerable formation in tennis because the backline is completely exposed- and either player on the other team can try and attack it on every shot. playing 2 up requires pretty solid overheads so that you can punish teams that lob you.

slewisoh
05-04-2007, 06:12 AM
I'm confused...your pro seems to find ways to justify your teammates staying at the baseline yet chews you out when you stay at the baseline?

Your pro needs to start teaching the skills that will make your teammates more comfortable at the net. What you interpret as stubborness is probably more a lack of know-how. Not only do they have to learn to volley, they have to learn how and when to approach the net.

But the first step is getting them to want to be there in the first place - that's the pro's job, not yours.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 06:31 AM
I'm confused...your pro seems to find ways to justify your teammates staying at the baseline yet chews you out when you stay at the baseline?

Pardon? I'm not following you.

Your pro needs to start teaching the skills that will make your teammates more comfortable at the net. What you interpret as stubborness is probably more a lack of know-how. Not only do they have to learn to volley, they have to learn how and when to approach the net.

But the first step is getting them to want to be there in the first place - that's the pro's job, not yours.

Not all of my teammates take lessons from any pro, let alone this pro. My partner yesterday does not take lessons with my pro (she takes drill classes with different pros). She can volley fine for our level. I scouted her in a drill class and invited her after seeing her play.

I do my lessons with two other teammates -- who also hug the baseline in practices and matches. The maddening thing is that he hounds all of us to transition, and he has us do drills for this (last Monday was a round of no-bounce doubles). I *know* they can transition and can volley/overhead, as I've seen them do it. These two teammates just won't unless a pro forces them.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 06:33 AM
Go out and watch a 4.0 mens league match- you will see MANY instances where the back player doesn't come up in this situatioon.

Serious question for 4.0+ people: *Why* would the baseliner choose to stay back if the net player makes a play on the ball? I assumed that when I see this at the higher levels, it is because somebody was asleep at the switch.

cak
05-04-2007, 06:50 AM
My pro has an interesting take on the whole thing.

He says I need to just keep doing what I'm doing and take the view that we will sometimes lose matches we could win because of the poor positioning. That's just the way it goes. His advice for me in doubles is that I should be at the net unless someone has kidnapped me and chained me to the back fence. So he doesn't want me to lay off at all, and if I can reach it at net, it's my ball.

Again, doubles is a team sport. You and your pro are willing to lose matches you could win. Is this pro your partner? Or do you have a partner also willing to lose matches to work on your game? (It would be nice if in losing these matches you were also working on her game, but I don't see that factored in here at all.) Perhaps this pro could find you a like minded partner that is also working on going to net, and is equally willing to lose matches to work on this.

fuzz nation
05-04-2007, 07:03 AM
Sounds like you're in that frustrating position of having one foot in the future and the other in the past - if your doub's partners don't have the basic motivation to come to net often, you're probably going to slowly transition away from them. I'd have also said that it's time for you to "play up" with a new team, but I haven't read your other post in the Leagues section yet.

In the meantime, it's probably healthier to accept the fact that you won't mesh well with a lot of doubles partners so you need to make a reasonable effort to at least "click" with them by communicating as best you can. If a partner clings to weak tactics that you can't encourage them to overcome, you probably need to just do the best you can for yourself. Not the best scenario for good doubles, but we've all seen that mess where one player is melting down and making the match into a two-on-one for their partner. That's the extreme of that situation, but you still need to take care of yourself when that's happening.

In the spirit of looking after yourself, I'd encourage you to be honest with yourself concerning your team; if it's really holding you back and you are sometimes dreading it, you need a change. Also, keep after the lessons and play up when you can. It will only put more useful things in your
toolbox and hone your confidence.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 07:08 AM
You and your pro are willing to lose matches you could win.

Yes.

My pro has made it crystal clear that I should expect to lose points, games or even matches I could otherwise win as I work to improve and move up a level.

He believes I should use the things I am learning from him in matches and should never deliberately resort back to my evil old ways of poor technique and poor positioning for the sake of winning a league match. For instance, I should finish my groundstrokes even if I feel I could make the shot with a safe little push. He believes I should go for my shots. He believes that skills that players are unwilling to use in matches are as useful as skills that have never been learned. He believes people who don't do these things -- people who go back to their old ways when they get under pressure or are worried about winning -- don't advance. He thinks I am far too focused on winning now rather than building my skills and becoming a good player.

YMMV, of course.

LuckyR
05-04-2007, 07:13 AM
Hey, here's a question, and the answer might be at the root of my frustration:

True or false: If the opponents hit to the net person, the baseliner should move forward.

My pro scolds me if I stay at the baseline when my net partner gets a racquet on the ball. "What are you doing? Playing or watching? Get up there and help your partner!" and suchlike.

If this advice is incorrect -- if it is OK to stay at the baseline -- then maybe there isn't a problem. . . .

As usual the answer is: it depends. If the netman is being punished ie the opposing netman has poached a weak ball, then the netman is probably backpedalling and the baseliner should probably not get any closer than a step or so in front of the baseline (in anticipation of drops, overheads and balls that go through the middle with pace, all potential putaways).

On the other hand, if the netman is himself poaching, hopefully the point is over or at least one shot from being over, but the baseliner should be coming forward to hit any putaways off of floaters that get by the netman.

cak
05-04-2007, 07:14 AM
I do my lessons with two other teammates -- who also hug the baseline in practices and matches. The maddening thing is that he hounds all of us to transition, and he has us do drills for this (last Monday was a round of no-bounce doubles). I *know* they can transition and can volley/overhead, as I've seen them do it. These two teammates just won't unless a pro forces them.


It must be no bounce doubles week in clinics. Yesterday the clinic I was in was playing no bounce doubles for most the clinic. In the heat of the moment, you don't realize that the "no bounce" winner isn't really one if you let it bounce. At the end of the clinic we played a 10 point regulation tiebreak. There it became quite apparent that a weak volley was dogmeat if your opponents were allowed a bounce. The decision to run in and take something in the air needs to be made on a strong approach, not just any old weak shot.

I have a one partner who takes everything from the air. But she never hits a sitter, alway a screamingly hard shot. I can run in on any shot she hits. If they attempt to lob her ball is hard enough it's almost always short, or high enough to run down. And she will run down stuff that goes over my head. I have other partners that have decent volleys, but they aren't put aways, I can come in to the service line, but nose to the net, no way, they have too much option to lob. I have to wait for her shot to see if it's good enough to go in. I play with some ladies that can reach almost anything at net, but some of their reaches are basically invitations for the other team to go to town, I'm good at getting anything from the back court, so I'm staying back unless they have a really good volley.

cak
05-04-2007, 08:05 AM
Yes.

My pro has made it crystal clear that I should expect to lose points, games or even matches I could otherwise win as I work to improve and move up a level.

That's not the problem. It's only a problem if you are playing doubles and your partner is not on the same page. You vetted a whole team of ladies to play with. Aren't any of them willing to lose so you can improve?

Now I admit, I play doubles because I like playing as a team. In social matches I often have partners who tell me they'd like to work on a particular thing today. That's okay by me, if they tell me that's what they are doing. Often I pick a shot I'm working on too. Coming out of clinics I sometimes play with partners where we are working on doubles issues, picking the right approach to come in on, recognizing our partners good shots. I'm willing to support that. But come USTA match time, I'm out there to win, and I don't appreciate a partner that's using that as her personal work through issues time. I'm not okay with losing points so she can improve. So you and I wouldn't be good USTA partners. But that's not to say there aren't women out their sharing your vision.

I'm betting since you hand picked these ladies at least some of them are willing to lose so you can improve. Before the match starts remind them of this. Tell them you are trying for the highest percentage of points where you both are at net. Keep track of that in your head or on a watch counter. Tell them even if you win, you consider it a loss of that number was below 50%. And even if it's a loss you consider it a win if that number is above 50%. If they don't come in on a point ask why. And listen. Maybe you are doing something that makes it hard for them to come in. (Considering how many 3.0s we have running in on anything, and you have basically 0 out of 16 of a hand pick bunch of ladies, I'm thinking you might be inhibiting some of them.) Basically emphasize the point of the match is not to win, but to get both of you to net so you can work on playing net with a partner up.

I know there are doubles partners that do this for USTA matches. One of my fastest wins was against a team working on getting to net. (They were very proud afterwards, they both got to the net something like 80% of the time.) So this was win/win for both teams.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 08:16 AM
But CAK, how do you judge whether the partner's volley is strong enough in a timely fashion?

Say I'm your partner and the ball comes to me at net, and you're one foot behind the baseline. Under the method you describe, you have to 1) observe that I'm going to hit; 2) watch the quality of my shot while also assessing the positions of our opponents because this affects the quality assessment; 3) make a decision about whether to come in; 4) come in and split-step, ready to hit.

All of this must happen in an awfully short amount of time, particularly since we're talking about a ball that only has to travel from my racquet at net to wherever the shot goes.

I think it makes more sense to have as one's default setting that you're moving forward as far as you can (up to the service line) unless you observe a good reason not to. I mean, my partner just played a lame volley and the other team lobs, I can get that ball even if I started in. And if I see trouble a'brewin' because of the lame volley, all I have to do is stop and play the point from wherever I happen to be, split-stepping in no-man's land if need be.

BTW, you're right that no-bounce doubles doesn't always translate perfectly into real match play. But the better no-bounce doubles players on my team are also the more successful doubles players. Coincidence? :)

My two teammates who join me for lessons *loathe* no-bounce doubles. The pro says we'll be doing it every week for a while. Huzzah!!

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 08:32 AM
CAK, I think the disconnect here is that it sounds like you're assuming that doing the things I suggest guarantees a loss. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

So no, my recruiting pitch wasn't "Let's Lose To Improve!!!!!!" My pitch was "We are a team that wants to improve, and we have faith that if we use proper positioning and proper technique and get out of our 2.5-3.0 comfort zone, we will in the long run (or perhaps even in the short run) win and improve and move up."

Am I inhibiting them from coming in? Probably so.

It has not escaped my notice that there is a great lot of deferring to me to hit shots, particularly for overheads and volleys. I felt like the Dude on a mixed doubles team for quite a number of points yesterday, trying to make the tough volley from the service line with my backhand because my partner closer to net decided to let me get that one. Or hitting a backhand overhead when my partner could have called it and played it as an forehand overhead.

I think a lot of my teammates get tight when they play with me because I'm the captain, because I am aggressive at net, and because I am doing things that seem unconventional to them (crossing from one side of the court at net all the way to the other side to play a volley), because some of them have less experience. I think my doubles partners sometimes worry about letting me down.

I don't think I should stop playing all out, though. I think my teammates should start doing the same, and I think they will. You'll remember that this is the team where over half are young and fit and athletic enough to play singles? They are capable of playing aggressive 3.0 doubles rather than flat-footed, middle-aged, suburban housewife doubles. I have faith that they'll get the hang of it sooner or later.

MordredSJT
05-04-2007, 08:35 AM
2 up is the most vulnerable formation in tennis because the backline is completely exposed- and either player on the other team can try and attack it on every shot.

Wow. I'm actually amazed that I just read this statement. Two up is the strongest position in doubles! It is strongest from a purely geometrical standpoint, as well as practically from a percentage perspective. One partner close to the net and the other slightly staggered behind them is the most effective positioning by far. It beats two players at net who are even with each other. It kills one up at net and one at the baseline. It absolutely thrashes two back. If your movement and overheads are so horrible that a team that is equal to your supposed level can consistently attack over your head with lobs...then you are not at the level you think you are as a doubles player.

As for 4.0 men playing one up and one back...they can get away with it because you still see a lot of other 4.0 men staying back. When you put a 4.0 team that plays good position against a 4.0 team that stays back, the team that moves forward will win the overwhelming majority of the time. How many 4.5 men do you see staying back? How many 5.0 men? I don't recall ever running into any. I know they are probably out there somewhere, but they are a very rare breed. The truth is you will get your *** kicked at that level if you stay back because everyone else will be moving forward, and you will constantly be playing defense. You have to play exceptionally and have a partner that is a very good poacher to even have a chance of winning.

spot
05-04-2007, 08:47 AM
Mordtred- 2 up is the strongest attacking formation in doubles but it is also the most vulnerable. In 1 up and 1 back there is a gaping hole if the ball is hit to the opposing net player- but from the perspective of someone from the baseline there aren't any gaping holes to hit into. 2 up is the best position to be in because the acute angles available to you make winners so much easier to hit. But when you are 2 up then every single shot the opposing team makes they have a viable option for hitting a winner because of the lob.

If you go 2 up you want to win the point quickly because it is the most vulnerable position. 2 up is great for closing points out and putting pressure on the opposing team- but there is a ton of vulnerability inherent in the formation as well. And at 3.0 ladies doubles where many players have lousy overheads and the women prefer to lob I am not at all sure its the ideal formation to be in.

skiracer55
05-04-2007, 08:54 AM
...it's time for you to think about getting away from NTRP, because you're inevitably going to be saddled with this situation. Go find some non-NTRP people who want to play doubles at the net and live happily ever after. In general, however, I really don't play doubles because you'd be surprised at how often this scenario happens at levels where it shouldn't even be a possibility. Singles works best for me. I don't have to think about what my partner might or might not do, I just have to get my feet moving because I already know who has to hit the next ball...

kevhen
05-04-2007, 09:15 AM
Last night I played with 3 baseliners in doubles and nobody would go to net. Two of the guys were top ranked DIII players and the woman was ranked when she played D1 so these are 4.5/5.0 type players who ended up having insanely long doubles rallies from the baseline.

I played up at net most of the time and just had to wait for balls that I could attack or wait for them to hit at me. It would be nice if my partner could play net better or could dropshot or slice them and lure them to net since their vollies and overheads are weaker than their baseline game, but my partner is just a great baseliner like they are. So I just had to be patient and do what I could and I did frustrate them with my slices but in the end we lost 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (10-7 super tiebreaker).

If your partner is a much better baseliner than net player, the game of doubles changes and you will have to adapt and learn to deal with it being a different game and not let yourself get too frustrated.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 09:47 AM
Mordtred- 2 up is the strongest attacking formation in doubles but it is also the most vulnerable. In 1 up and 1 back there is a gaping hole if the ball is hit to the opposing net player- but from the perspective of someone from the baseline there aren't any gaping holes to hit into. 2 up is the best position to be in because the acute angles available to you make winners so much easier to hit. But when you are 2 up then every single shot the opposing team makes they have a viable option for hitting a winner because of the lob.

If you go 2 up you want to win the point quickly because it is the most vulnerable position. 2 up is great for closing points out and putting pressure on the opposing team- but there is a ton of vulnerability inherent in the formation as well. And at 3.0 ladies doubles where many players have lousy overheads and the women prefer to lob I am not at all sure its the ideal formation to be in.


But Spot . . . the game of tennis designed so that there is always too much court to cover, so you have to decide what court to leave undefended.

I think leaving the back half of the court undefended (or I should say partially undefended) is on balance better in doubles. This is because lob winners are tricky shots. Go ahead and lob me when I'm at net. If it is too low, I can overhead it. If it is too high, I can run it down. If I can't reach it, my partner likely will. If you miss a bit, it might sail long or even wide.

Yeah, true lob geniuses will hurt you, but most players in my experience don't lob as well as they think they do, not against an agile pair of net players who don't "overclose" the net.

Granted, two players up with lousy volleys and no overheads are dead meat. But I think with my teammates that the biggest problem is that they lack confidence in their overheads/volleys and feel stoopid when they miss. They volley fine for our level against the kind of pace and passing shot one sees at our level.

How come people feel more stoopid when they miss an overhead or volley than when they miss a baseline shot? 'Cause baseline huggers darn sure hit long, hit into the net, or hit to the net player, yet they seem to be able to shake these gaffes off. A couple of blown volleys, and they are through with playing the net though.

skiracer55
05-04-2007, 09:54 AM
Last night I played with 3 baseliners in doubles and nobody would go to net. Two of the guys were top ranked DIII players and the woman was ranked when she played D1 so these are 4.5/5.0 type players who ended up having insanely long doubles rallies from the baseline.

I played up at net most of the time and just had to wait for balls that I could attack or wait for them to hit at me. It would be nice if my partner could play net better or could dropshot or slice them and lure them to net since their vollies and overheads are weaker than their baseline game, but my partner is just a great baseliner like they are. So I just had to be patient and do what I could and I did frustrate them with my slices but in the end we lost 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (10-7 super tiebreaker).

If your partner is a much better baseliner than net player, the game of doubles changes and you will have to adapt and learn to deal with it being a different game and not let yourself get too frustrated.


...about where the game of doubles is at all levels these days, doesn't it? It doesn't help that you've got WTA Grand Slam titles being won by one up/one back or all back teams. Having said all that good stuff, Cindysphinx, if you're bound and determined to play doubles, you're going to see a lot of this at the 3.0 level. I saw a women's 3.0 level doubles match on the court next to mine the other day, where...and I am not making this up...Team B's "one up, one back" strategy was to have Rhonda in the middle of the baseline and Joanne back in the corner where the side and back fences meet...hoping no balls were going to come her way. I'm pretty sure neither one of them even knew the net existed. I'm not being sexist, this is just an example...I've seen men's doubles matches that were far worse in the opposite direction...two guys running around in circles on the baseline and running into each other, going to the net on weak shots and jumping up for the inevitable overhead like trout in a dynamited pond, back to the baseline for more run in circles, scream and shout...you get the joke.

So despite Kevhen's sad story, one thing you can work on is to improve your level, because if you get to 4.0 and above, you're more likely to have a partner who is willing to come to net sometime other than to shake hands at the end of the match...

cak
05-04-2007, 09:58 AM
Cindy, I am assuming what you are suggesting will guarantee a loss. And the only reason I'm thinking that is because I've gotten an incredible number of wins off of teams where they are both going in on absolutely anything, and I've never lost to a team that both go in on absolutely everything. Are these teams improving? Maybe, but I don't play against them anymore as my partners and I were bumped up two years ago so they are no longer in our league. So I'm thinking if you are looking for the fastest way to 3.5, your pro is doing you a disservice in teaching you just the net game, and not how to win. (Though to be fair, my first season in 3.5 I was losing to people with really good nets games, but they had been at 3.5 and had them for awhile.)

I do think if your goal is a really good net game you are doing the right thing. But agree that you should drop the whole NTRP thing and just play with like minded folks until you find someone that likes the net game as much as you do.

And I certainly understand the problem of a well meaning captain intimidating her whole team. I've seen teams like that, and I don't know how to fix it. I'm not even sure it needs to be fixed.

(Oh, and the no-bounce champions in our clinic got schooled in the regular tie break.)

spot
05-04-2007, 10:11 AM
Cindy- thats absolutely true that for many players on balance 2 up is better overall. But it doesn't change the fact that it is a vulnerable formation if the point isn't won quickly. And if the players don't hit consistently penetrating volleys and they have poor overheads (which describes most 3.0 women) then many of the benefits to 2 up go right out the door. 2 up is a strategy- its not a magic wand that makes you win. 2 up has many advantages but it takes a certain skillset to be able to play it consistently. 1 up and 1 back will simply work better for many teams.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2007, 11:52 AM
I hear ya, CAK.

In fact, I noticed what you're saying when I played mixed doubles. At 3.0, I really can come in on anything and win. Balls are hit slower, no one has a wicked passing shot, a topspin lob, groundies with pace.

Not so in mixed doubles. I was constantly facing 4.0 men, 3.5 men and 3.5 women, and they have no trouble putting a ball at your feet if you put so much as one toe in front of the baseline. My usual "spank a ball and come to net" didn't work too well, and there weren't a lot of other arrows in the quiver.

I have decided I need to *seriously* improve my approach shot and groundstrokes to open things up so I can get to net a bit more easily. But my goal is still to get to the net so I can finish points with winners.

So if we ever play, I'll be that chick coming in on everything, but hopefully with some decent groundies to make it a respectable effort.

Pssst . . . you'll win. :D

kevhen
05-04-2007, 12:52 PM
I actually enjoyed the match very much because I can hang close with these 4.5/5.0s in doubles that beat me 1 and 1 in singles, because they don't go to net and have weak vollies. They had many 10+ ball rallies but I finish the point in one or two strokes. They were all tired at the end of the night from running down balls, but I was still fresh and had played with another group earlier in the night so got in 4 hours of great tennis last night!

But it is a different kind of doubles from how the club players play who are much more aggressive at net. But then these players were each great college singles players.

MordredSJT
05-04-2007, 03:34 PM
Mordtred- 2 up is the strongest attacking formation in doubles but it is also the most vulnerable. In 1 up and 1 back there is a gaping hole if the ball is hit to the opposing net player- but from the perspective of someone from the baseline there aren't any gaping holes to hit into.

Two up is somewhat vulnerable to lobs (I qualify it with somewhat because good staggered positioning can nullify this disadvantage against all but the best lobbers, and a good player can make it difficult to lob). One up and one back is vulnerable to a volley down the middle, a sharply angled cross court groundstroke, a well placed lob down the line over the net player, and an angled volley from an intelligent player that has joined his partner at the net. Guess which type of shot is overwhelmingly higher percentage for creating winners or forcing errors...a lob, or a volley...it isn't even close.

But when you are 2 up then every single shot the opposing team makes they have a viable option for hitting a winner because of the lob.

Who here can consistently hit lobs for winners over two well positioned net players of equal skill level? Seriously. And I mean consistently...and for winners. Not, ok we got them off the net for a second, but a winner. Who here can put away a volley? Hmmm...

And at 3.0 ladies doubles where many players have lousy overheads and the women prefer to lob I am not at all sure its the ideal formation to be in.

It is if it is played correctly. The problem of course being that most 3.0 women do not know how to play it correctly (or how to defang the dreaded lob queens). Of course, the women who do eventually figure this out don't stay 3.0 for long...which is why there aren't many of them at the 3.0 level.

MordredSJT
05-04-2007, 04:04 PM
I actually enjoyed the match very much because I can hang close with these 4.5/5.0s in doubles that beat me 1 and 1 in singles, because they don't go to net and have weak vollies. They had many 10+ ball rallies but I finish the point in one or two strokes. They were all tired at the end of the night from running down balls, but I was still fresh and had played with another group earlier in the night so got in 4 hours of great tennis last night!

But it is a different kind of doubles from how the club players play who are much more aggressive at net. But then these players were each great college singles players.

Mind if I ask the schools of the players? I only ask because I actually know you in a roundabout way and used to play DIII and teach in Iowa.

Regardless, this only goes to prove my point. You were able to hang in with "better" players because they played very poor doubles positioning. Being good at singles doesn't always translate to doubles and vice versa. Of course, if these players learned to play properly and developed their net games they would likely be beating you just as handily in doubles as they would in singles.

And for the comments about WTA doubles. There are some very interesting articles on tennisone about that...I'll sum up. Statistically the best position as far as percentage of points won between one up and one back, two back, two at net evenly, and two at net staggered is...two at net staggered. Serving and volleying on the first serve wins a higher percentage of points than serving and staying back. And the team that hits the first volley, disregarding the type or quality of the volley, wins up to 75% of the points.

In other words there is a good reason that Martina Navritalova can compete and win in doubles against players less than half her age that could blow her off a singles court.

Bagumbawalla
05-04-2007, 04:26 PM
Whover is in charge of organizing/leading/selecting members for your group has not been very proficient in finding players that are willing to learn/practice/drill/put in the time/work on strategy.

It may be too late, now, but next year, you (someone) need(s) to "scout" out players that show promise and are willing to learn doubles skills.

Go to tournaments, clubs, tennis centers/parks and try to round up some hopeful candidates. Then, start working with them to develop their games/strategy/technique...

In the mean time, you have to do the best with what you have. There are some strategies that improve your chances when you have a player who refuses to move in from the baseline.

Insist that the server serve down the tee or at the body. That will narrow the angle of possible returns and help the person at the net cover less territory.

Rather than get involved in a topspin crosscourt ralley, have the "back" player slice short balls crosscourt so they land in front of the net person. To avoid the net person the opponent will have a fairly difficult angle placement (this would, actually, be a good time for the back player to come in).

If the opponents come to net, together, have the back person lob crosscourt (more distance/leeway for error) and force them to scurry back.

Have the back person occasionally drive the ball down the line (if the opponents crowd the center) or hit right at the net person to force a possible error.

These (above) are some things the back person can try, to avoid just hitting the ball back and forth crosscourt, and break things up a bit. Meanwhile the net person may benefit by getting an easy put-away.