View Full Version : Help w/ playing against tall seasoned doubles players

03-25-2004, 10:48 AM
My partner and I are playing against a tough smart doubles team. Both of the players are 6'3" or 6'4" and in their mid 40s in good shape and move well. They make it difficult to get into a good rhythm; most of their shots will be hit soft w/ a lot of spin, but every now and then, they'll hit a fast paced shot. They rarely give us unforced errors. They're very good at net standing nearly on top of it, and also when returning serve, the net man sets up 1-2 feet closer to the middle. They serve similar to their groundstrokes; soft w/ spin w/ the occasional flat serve. Their returns are mainly chips and dinks which they follow by rushing to the net.

I am left handed. My partner is right handed. We both have strong serves, and decent groundstrokes and volleys. Although it may seem easy to hit down the line returns, especially with the way they lean to the middle, I'm worried that it's a lot harder to direct a wobbly serve. I've been thinking about using lobs, but as they are tall and have decent overheads (good placement), that might be difficult. Should I hit the ball hard at the net man? Since they're mainly dinking back our serves, is it better just to go for safer spin serves w/ good placement?

I'm also worried b/c these tactics involve changes from how we normally play. Are we giving in the first step to their tactics. Although it's hard for me to play them, I recognize that they are a great team and not pushers per se. They just do what they can to make it difficult for you to get into a rhythm.


03-25-2004, 11:04 AM
if they're dinking back your serves, come in and take over the net before they can get a chance to. if your team has good volleyers as well, play some poach strategies, or even try australian. this will keep them guessing, and perhaps go for a little more on their shots/returns. on your returns, try and hit at the server's feet as he's coming in. try and keep the ball low. unless you can lob well, it will be difficult due to their height.

03-25-2004, 10:55 PM
I play mixed sometimes with an ex-basketball player. FORGET lobbing, but he really does have trouble when he has to get his racquet down to his feet - there's just too much leg to bend :~)

03-26-2004, 01:30 AM
Wow, both 6' players. I'm thinking the key is variety. Throw up a lob every so often to get them thinking. They don't want you to get into a rhythm and vice versa. Kreative and Cypo have great tips; you gotta keep the ball low and slow to make them volley up that way your team can have something to be a bit more agressive on. If they start leaning towards the middle, hit it towards the alley every so often to keep them honest. One thing I noticed is that they chip and dink returns; again you gotta keep them off-balance by throwing different spins and locations on your serves. As for your returns, the down the line return is very tough to do consistently and it may be expected so the return at the server's partner is really good, especially if you jam them.

Camilio Pascual
03-26-2004, 03:33 AM
I agree with Cypo about keeping the ball low. But disagree about lobs, especially since these guys are on top of the net. I've just started playing a lot of doubles in the last year and am shocked at how little and ineptly the lob is used in the doubles I've been playing, I expected much more. It's my best shot and people I've just met think I'm a long term experienced doubles player, I'm not. The main problem I see is the lob is not sent high enough, 6'6" guys are not going to get to 20' foot high lobs at the net. Not enough topspin is imparted, I see people quit accelerating their swing, presumably because they don't want to send the ball long. This results in very little topspin which results in the ball going...long. I've also found, as in singles, that a short, high lob with good topspin is not the sitting duck for 3.0 - 4.0 players that you might think it would be. Don't be scared of throwing up a short one if it is high and has lots of topspin. Of course, a fair number of these have been slammed back at me for winners, but not enough to make my lobs a losing proposition.

03-26-2004, 04:46 AM
I only know this one guy, but what's great about being on his team, is that "we" can hang on the net, because he only needs to go back to just behind the service line to catch any lob that's going to land in. He doesn't necessarily kill the ball, but he gets the ball back without putting us in a defensive position. But he may be an exception, having been a semi-pro (european league) basketball player may have just given him a great deal of experience doing things with balls when his hands are over his head :~).

Camilio Pascual
03-26-2004, 09:33 AM
Cypo - Well, you are right, this guy sounds like he is exceptional at covering lobs and I would abandon my own strategy if I were to face such a player. What I've said is generally true and he would have to "prove" his capability to me before I would switch strategy. I'd also like to make a correction, I should have said 30 instead of 20 feet.

Bungalo Bill
03-26-2004, 02:49 PM
I would definitely support the lob. Especially if they are on top of the net. The question is, do you have a good lob? Both you and your partners need to practice the lob till it is second nature. I am not talking about a defensive lob, I am talking about an offensive lob. Keeping the ball low is also the obvious answer because they are tall. Practice your slice serves, learn to keep those serves low. You got to practice this.

The game of doubles is played up, down, and through the middle. This requires practice to master the strokes necessary to hit these shots. No escaping this when playing an outstanding doubles team. Soft shots and volleys are also staples to practice.

You should definitely master the offensive lob. This will really give you a lot of options. You shouldn't care how good they are at running them down - that is not the point - the point is it is one more thing they have to watch for. You have weapons and they have to think about all the possible replies, if you have a lot of options you will win more points. Also, when you develop the lob real well, you will force them back and have a better chance to exchange groundstrokes - maybe that is what they are weak in - I don't know but it is something you have to figure out.

In sounds like they play smart because they keep the doubles point "closed". Keeping the ball between themselves is what doubles is all about and is a "closed" point.

You need to call plays. Get them out of their crosscourt return rhythm. Keep them guessing, all the time. Learn the "I" formation, learn the Australian, practice them. You and your partner should get a book that is called "The Art of Doubles" - study it, agree on it, then talk about it and what it means to you and your partner. Most partners will not do this. You will strengthen your doubles communication mentally and verbally and understand your roles a lot better.

To beat these guys your going to have to step it up and learn new things to improve yourself. The book above will give you an intermediate to advanced knowledge of positioning and how to play doubles.

Also, www.operationdoubles.com is an excellent resource to learn things about doubles for the intermediate to advanced club doubles player.

If you really get into it, I would recommend a video that is made by the International Tennis Federation called " Doubles Tennis Tactics" by Louis Cayer. This is an excellent doubles video which gets into how professional doubles is played. Lots of drills, ideas, etc. However, it needs to be practiced which for some might be difficult depending on your schedules, time, money, and commitment level. Nevertheless, it is a good one to have in your library.

Lobs definitely! No matter what you need to know how to hit that shot effectively, even on your service return. You may lose some points but your will also win points. If your lob is good, believe me they will be thinking about it. Since they are not professional level doubles players, the lob is something you should always be ready to use. Especially the offensive lob.

03-27-2004, 10:18 AM
Thanks for the replies and advice. We played a tough match losing 6-4 and 7-5. Still it look like the quickest way to improve would be to learn offensive lobs. Right now it's just not a shot we practice, but that will change. Going over the match, we hit only 1 out of 6 lobs for a winner. The others were either out or hit back hard.

The other thing to improve is returning serves into the body. Even though most of them weren't hit hard, the spin on them made it difficult to fight off!

thank again to everyone!