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Cindysphinx
04-19-2009, 04:42 PM
I had an interesting discussion with the captain/coach of our ladies 4.0 team. Generally, he abides by the doubles strategy and positioning recommendations in "The Art of Doubles," so we get along fine. Here's what happened.

I was returning from the deuce court, and I followed my crosscourt return to the net, shading to follow the ball. I went as far as I thought reasonable, stopping to split step as the opponent hit the ball. I was perhaps 1-2 feet inside the service line when I stopped. Opponent hit an offensive lob that went over my head, and as I made no attempt to play it, and it landed at the baseline for a winner.

My first thought was what my pro would have said had he seen that nonsense, which was a version of: "What's wrong with you, woman? Don't just stand there watching. You know your partner isn't going to reach that ball. Just take two big shuffles back and hit your overhead!" OK, I'm an idiot. So stipulated.

Anyway, my captain/coach had a different take on it. He said that, when you are approaching the net, the service line is your Stop Sign. You stop about 1 foot behind the service line so you can reach any lob the opponent might play and you deprive her of that option.

That got me thinking (and arguing, 'cause it didn't sound right to me). Where *do* you stop when you are coming to net in doubles?

I just kind of play it by ear. I certainly won't come in closer than "second volley position", which is perhaps 2 steps behind the center of the service box. Beyond that guideline, I do what seems to make sense given what I know about my opponent. If it is a Dude, I come closer because he is less likely to lob and more likely to crush the ball at my feet. If it is a Certified Lob Queen, I will stop back of the service line. If the opponent is a pusher or doesn't hit with pace, I feel more comfortable stopping farther back because I figure I can close the net if I need to. If the opponent is off balance or otherwise in trouble, I definitely wouldn't stop behind the service line.

But what of this Stop Sign idea? Do people do it that way, and how well does it work in practice?

robby c
04-19-2009, 05:17 PM
If my opponent's lob hits the baseline crosscourt thats just too good.
You may need to hit a stronger return, or wait one more strong forehand to approach the net.
Now if they're lobbing constantly I would change my positioning, but not for one or two points.
Robby C

lovin'it
04-19-2009, 05:29 PM
i have run into this too, as i come in almost automatically after my return, my coach is getting me to better judge the ball i return to decide if I hit one i can come in on. i agree with the second response, to make them 'earn' it, to protect from a lob, but the better i hit, and judge MY ball, the easier it is for me to decide on what i should and shouldn't come in on. split at the service line when ya do come in...

BullDogTennis
04-19-2009, 05:50 PM
i come in around a foot or so INSIDE the baseline. what will happen is. if you stay to far back, they return it at your feet, and if your lucky enough to get it back, there going to pound your shot. if your a little closer you can take it out of the air.

think of it this way. it takes 4 points to win a game. (not including deuce) if they hit an amazing shot you still have 3 points to give. (meaning dont give up easy points by blotching volleys or double faults!)

JavierLW
04-19-2009, 06:04 PM
I had an interesting discussion with the captain/coach of our ladies 4.0 team. Generally, he abides by the doubles strategy and positioning recommendations in "The Art of Doubles," so we get along fine. Here's what happened.

I was returning from the deuce court, and I followed my crosscourt return to the net, shading to follow the ball. I went as far as I thought reasonable, stopping to split step as the opponent hit the ball. I was perhaps 1-2 feet inside the service line when I stopped. Opponent hit an offensive lob that went over my head, and as I made no attempt to play it, and it landed at the baseline for a winner.

My first thought was what my pro would have said had he seen that nonsense, which was a version of: "What's wrong with you, woman? Don't just stand there watching. You know your partner isn't going to reach that ball. Just take two big shuffles back and hit your overhead!" OK, I'm an idiot. So stipulated.

Anyway, my captain/coach had a different take on it. He said that, when you are approaching the net, the service line is your Stop Sign. You stop about 1 foot behind the service line so you can reach any lob the opponent might play and you deprive her of that option.

That got me thinking (and arguing, 'cause it didn't sound right to me). Where *do* you stop when you are coming to net in doubles?

I just kind of play it by ear. I certainly won't come in closer than "second volley position", which is perhaps 2 steps behind the center of the service box. Beyond that guideline, I do what seems to make sense given what I know about my opponent. If it is a Dude, I come closer because he is less likely to lob and more likely to crush the ball at my feet. If it is a Certified Lob Queen, I will stop back of the service line. If the opponent is a pusher or doesn't hit with pace, I feel more comfortable stopping farther back because I figure I can close the net if I need to. If the opponent is off balance or otherwise in trouble, I definitely wouldn't stop behind the service line.

But what of this Stop Sign idea? Do people do it that way, and how well does it work in practice?

It sounds like it's not really just a matter of WHERE you stopped, as much as it had to do with HOW you stopped.

Split Stepping is something you do at the exact instant that your opponent has made their intentions known on what they are going to do, it's sort of an art.

It's not really a stoppage of movement altogether, it's just a way of stopping for just a moment so you are perfectly balanced and then your next step can be in any direction possible. (either continuing toward the net to intercept the ball, or even backwards to intercept a lob)

The same situation often occurs when you are running up and you stop and someone hits you in the foot with the ball (I have a guy on my team that's 67 that will do that everytime if you dont split step correctly).

As far as where, there probably is a GENERAL sense of where you should not be. If you are all the way up against the net, then that's bad, it meant you ran clear thru and didnt stop at all.

But if you are anywhere around the service line and you find yourself just sitting there standing around waiting, then it doesnt matter where you, are the problem is that stopped moving entirely.

I think their stop sign idea is just a shortcut for them to tell you because they probably are not going to sit there and tell you how to split step.

If they are just a coach or a captain that's probably not that bad since they are not a teaching pro necessarily, and I guess if someone was hell bent on stopping all together they shouldnt get too far past the service line. (but most of the time they probably will get screwed anyway because they stopped dead)

If you keep moving your feet and you split step correctly you should be able to recover and get almost any lob. And more importantly you wont get hit in the feet (like BullDog suggests), because if you just stop for an instant, you are then moving in to intercept the ball (no matter where it's going), there is no way for them to hit you in the feet.

People who get hit in the feet are the ones who either stop dead, or they dont stop at all (so it's easy to predict where they are going to be since they cant change direction easily).

The problem with the stop sign idea and other methods of picking exactly WHERE you should stop is if you do that, you may not be split stepping at the right time. You should be watching your opponent and your split step should be a reaction of what's going on with them, not about where you are on the court.

For me if I find myself getting in WAY too far before it's the right time to split step, then I try to deal more with the pace of how Im getting in then I do about any target area. (like sometimes I may forget and may go charging in full speed, when really I could of just casually moved forward since I dont really need to get in that far)

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 08:24 AM
No, his criticism was *where* I stopped, not whether I stopped or how I stopped.

He says you split step behind the service line. There is a stop sign at the service line, and you aren't to go closer when you are coming to net from the baseline. (I assume he would say you can be in second volley position at other times, as it would be insane to try to play doubles from a foot behind the service line.)

I say you split step wherever you happen to be when the opponent is hitting. If that is an inch in front of the baseline or a foot inside the service line, so be it.

So what is it exactly that determines where you stop, and how close to the net is "too close"?

larry10s
04-20-2009, 08:36 AM
cindysphinx you are correct you split step WHEN your opponent makes contact witmh the ball no matter WHERE you are in the court. the service line stop sign is a useful guide for people who dont split step. as you said perfectly if you play a lobqueen you probably will slow your pace to close so you split step around the service line preparing to hit the overhead to her lob. if you someone who will likely drive the ball you may try to get closer so the topspin doest force you to volley up. regardless you split step WHEN they hit not WHERE you are

bukaeast
04-20-2009, 08:40 AM
Maybe for your captain it is a way for him to know to not come in TOO FAST. If he was coming in too fast, ie out of control headlong rush, he was "taught" that you should stop at the service line. Nice way of saying "slow down fool" to him. and he is passing it along as he was taught.

Just a thought. I remember hearing that you should come in "controlled.

I know the theory, not the practice.....

raiden031
04-20-2009, 09:06 AM
I don't think you should stop at the service line if you don't need to. For instance, if you approached by hitting a lob yourself, you could very well close in on the net before needing to split step because you have plenty of time. I would not remain on the service line unless that is where you are when the opponent strikes the ball. I seldom get farther in than the service line on a first volley, but really the timing of the split step is more important than where you are when it happens.

origmarm
04-20-2009, 09:10 AM
I don't think you should stop at the service line if you don't need to. For instance, if you approached by hitting a lob yourself, you could very well close in on the net before needing to split step because you have plenty of time. I would not remain on the service line unless that is where you are when the opponent strikes the ball. I seldom get farther in than the service line on a first volley, but really the timing of the split step is more important than where you are when it happens.

This is the correct concept. Split when the opponents hits the ball/just before. Sometimes I make it over the line, sometimes not, depends on what ball my opponent is returning.

NoBadMojo
04-20-2009, 09:32 AM
I dont like the notion of a stop sign coupled w. the split step. encourages people to split-step and stop which is NOT what you want to do. You want to split-step and GO....move to the ball not stop.

Casey10s
04-20-2009, 09:42 AM
In general, you should approach the net until you see the person is ready to hit the shot. By the time contact is made, you should be in your split step and prepared. If you are extremely fast or the shot has little pace, you should stop somewhere about halfway between the service line and the net. If you are slow or the ball has a good bit of pace, you will probably be back around the service line. After the next shot, you should be moving in to the point on the court mentioned earlier (between the net and the service line)

Too far back and the person can angle in front of you for a winner, drive it at your feet, or just drop it past the net. In any case, you are in trouble. Too close, and the bad things are that one can be lobbed or a ball can be driven at you so that you can't react in time. But then again, you can cut off a lot of the angles and probably win a lot more points there.

I always been told to get to the net. Staying too far back and the percentages are not with you. At the net, you have more chances of winning the point. Losing points on the occasional lob you can't get to should be more than offset by the points that are won when you are at the net.

Steady Eddy
04-20-2009, 10:10 AM
The coach thinks a player should always stop at the same place? I'm pretty skeptical of using the word "always" in a context like this. Coaches like rules like that because it makes their job easier. Cindy, you just need some more confidence in yourself and not put so much stock in what tennis 'authority figures' say. Even if they're good players, that might only be because they're good athletes. You've probably given more thought to tennis by this time, than they ever will. Don't argue, but just say, "Oh. Uh huh.", and go about your business.

larry10s
04-20-2009, 10:44 AM
http://www.tennisoxygen.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=11&Itemid=30

larry10s
04-20-2009, 10:46 AM
the home site is a good source of info . ^^^^this is an article on the split step.the home site is www.tennisoxygen.com

raiden031
04-20-2009, 10:49 AM
The coach thinks a player should always stop at the same place? I'm pretty skeptical of using the word "always" in a context like this. Coaches like rules like that because it makes their job easier. Cindy, you just need some more confidence in yourself and not put so much stock in what tennis 'authority figures' say. Even if they're good players, that might only be because they're good athletes. You've probably given more thought to tennis by this time, than they ever will. Don't argue, but just say, "Oh. Uh huh.", and go about your business.

I think cindy took the right approach by bringing it up for discussion on the board. I have gotten alot of advice (most often unsolicited) on how I should be playing tennis, and I usually nod my head and ignore it initially until I can verify that what they are saying has any merit. Even among experts there is alot of contradictory approaches to the game, but rather than just choosing one side (both are experts, right?), its better to analyze both sides and decide which is best for your particular style and game. But in the end, bringing it up on the board might leave her more confused then she started with even more differing views on it then just checking a couple of established resources out there. Thats why I keep buying new tennis books, to cross-reference against the things I hear on the board or read from the other books.

larry10s
04-20-2009, 10:49 AM
sorry. to read the article you have to be a member. the gist is time the split step to when they hit not where you are.

jrod
04-20-2009, 11:15 AM
Agree with many here. Split on the ball bounce (assuming it does). A spit-step isn't a dead stop and it isn't assigned to a specific location on the court. Your coach is being way too anal and is just plain wrong here.

Joeyg
04-20-2009, 11:26 AM
Sorry, your captain/coach is a moron. In dubs you need to get in to close off the angle. If your opponent has to hit a good topspin lob to win the point, so be it. The service line is your "stop sign"? Absolute and total BS.

If one of my college players were to do this, I would have him drilling for a week.

calamansi
04-20-2009, 11:33 AM
Too many variables. IMO you'd have to adjust based on the following:

-how much pace your serve has (the faster it is, the faster the return gets back to you, and the less time you have to rush the net)
-how consistent of a returner you're facing
-how probably it is the returner will give you a lob vs a low return vs an angled return to the alley vs a heavy stop spin return vs a floating slice return vs a dying slice return
-how much pace your returner has on his returns
-how much your aggression in rushing the net affects the returner mentally
-how fast you are in rushing the net after recovering from your serve

Steady Eddy
04-20-2009, 11:56 AM
I have gotten alot of advice (most often unsolicited) on how I should be playing tennis.
Don't ya love that? :)

Moz
04-20-2009, 12:23 PM
Sorry, your captain/coach is a moron. In dubs you need to get in to close off the angle. If your opponent has to hit a good topspin lob to win the point, so be it. The service line is your "stop sign"? Absolute and total BS.



Agree with this. That advice is the sort of rubbish that would have me looking for a new coach.

moonbat
04-20-2009, 12:41 PM
I had an interesting discussion about this with my teaching pro the other week. He said that the deeper and more powerful your return, one that crowds your opponent and makes her retreat behind the baseline, the farther back you need to split (no farther forward than service line.) It sounds counterintuitive; you'd think if you crush a return, you would want to attack the net, but he said that an opponent who is jammed is going to hit a defensive shot. He said the opening up of the opponent's racquet face telegraphs the lob, so you need to make sure you are far enough back to be able to handle a deep one. If she hits a weak one, you can always run in and pick it off.

Joeyg
04-20-2009, 01:56 PM
Find a new pro! That one has his head up his rear end. If you get a defensive reply, close and either you or your partner knock off the volley.

Why do people try and make this difficult? Get to the net, volley and end the point.

burosky
04-20-2009, 02:26 PM
I think this is what happens when coaches or other players as well give "cookie-cutter" advise and tips. A lot of the arguments are related to the variances in the situation. As such, saying one thing may apply to certain situations but may not apply to others.

To a certain extent, I agree with JoeyG. At the College level, you can have certain expectations from the players. However, try saying the same thing to a player in the lower end of the NTRP range and most likely the player will have a huge question mark written all over their face.

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 02:51 PM
I had an interesting discussion about this with my teaching pro the other week. He said that the deeper and more powerful your return, one that crowds your opponent and makes her retreat behind the baseline, the farther back you need to split (no farther forward than service line.) It sounds counterintuitive; you'd think if you crush a return, you would want to attack the net, but he said that an opponent who is jammed is going to hit a defensive shot. He said the opening up of the opponent's racquet face telegraphs the lob, so you need to make sure you are far enough back to be able to handle a deep one. If she hits a weak one, you can always run in and pick it off.

Moonbat, this is on target. There is such a thing as coming in too close to the net for the circumstances. As you say, the deeper and more powerful the return, the more likely that you have jammed or panicked your opponent and they will throw up a lob. If you continue moving forward until they hit the ball, you perhaps could be too close to the net.

To play devil's advocate for a minute, we have to consider the play of players who don't hit with much pace.

Say the serve comes to me and is short, so I am hitting from a position inside the baseline. I hit a medium-pace deep moonball-ish return (I can do this because no one is ever poaching!) and start moving forward. Opponent, meanwhile, doesn't know how to hit on the rise and therefore must bounce the ball, let it crest, and wait for it to fall into her strike zone. Given a fast footspeed and a slow ball speed, I could run all the way to the net and touch it before it is time to split step.

Since the coach in question is a volunteer coach/captain who is actually doing a very nice job with the team and the practices, I feel no need to "fire" him. It's just that he probably knows more about 4.0 ladies tennis than I do, so it is at least worth considering his point of view. I actually think he is a pretty neat guy, based on what I know so far.

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 05:39 PM
Wait. . . you said both of you follow the art of doubles.

Pat preaches the stagger formation.

Is that not how you play in your league matches?

J

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 05:53 PM
Wait. . . you said both of you follow the art of doubles.

Pat preaches the stagger formation.

Is that not how you play in your league matches?

J

There are two versions of the Art of Doubles. IIRC, the original doesn't preach staggered formation, but the second version does. I have big problems with the second version and do not follow it. I stick by the original.

I think the coach/captain may be thinking of the second version. He also doesn't like it when I follow a crosscourt shot to the net and shade toward the middle (Art of Doubles I). He says you need to cover that wide crosscourt angled return and shouldn't shade toward the middle (Art of Doubles II). I disagree; I prefer to protect the middle (the easy shot for my opponent) and make them hit the angled crosscourt winner if they want the point. He says his way (Art of Doubles II) covers the whole court. I say that is impossible; you can't cover everything.

This whole staggered formation thing . . . I dunno. I mean, I get it. I just think it is difficult to implement as an Actual Formation. It seems to happen by default. My partner is at net, so I shade back just a touch. No biggie.

I have one partner who is big into the staggered formation. Conversations between us seem centered on this idea. "OK, we'll do a staggered formation. And whoever is slightly in front will take the middle ball, OK? And then if there is a lob, the person in back will turn and run for the lob, got it?"

Geez. Seems a little formulaic to me. How about we communicate during points, call balls with "Mine", and dispense with some of these rigid rules? I mean, when I'm playing, I'm watching the opponents, not my partner. It is hard for me to make snap decisions about whether to play a particular ball based on where she is positioned a few feet one way or the other, which ought to be changing every second if she is moving as she should.

Fortunately, we are in sych about proper lateral movement, so that's something . . .

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 06:00 PM
I had no idea there were 2 versions. Is the first different enough that it is worth buying aswell?

J

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 06:15 PM
Jolly, I cannot find my 2nd edition. Doh!

Anyway, I wrote some long posts about the differences in the books a while ago. The second uses different terminology (calling one player "the terminator" and saying she has different responsibilities). The second also does away with "the Wall Axiom" and seems calculated to guard against the lob above all else.

I need to go find that book . . .

waves2ya
04-20-2009, 06:18 PM
Good stuff Cindy.

Welcome back...


Since the coach in question is a volunteer coach/captain who is actually doing a very nice job with the team and the practices, I feel no need to "fire" him. It's just that he probably knows more about 4.0 ladies tennis than I do, so it is at least worth considering his point of view. I actually think he is a pretty neat guy, based on what I know so far.

I would not throw baby & bath water out on this idea. Trust your gut and give it a go, see if advice works for you; getting too close to the net is a sure fire opportunity for the savvy opponent.

And why I'm glad indoors is over...!

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 06:20 PM
Jolly, I cannot find my 2nd edition. Doh!

Anyway, I wrote some long posts about the differences in the books a while ago. The second uses different terminology (calling one player "the terminator" and saying she has different responsibilities). The second also does away with "the Wall Axiom" and seems calculated to guard against the lob above all else.

I need to go find that book . . .

Thanks, I will look into the first edition. I got some useful tidbits from the one I have, but didn't really buy into it lock, stock, and. . .

But that is generally how I am with most tennis books. I read them, consider the author's point of view and adopt what I like, disreguard what I don't agree with, and discuss what I am unsure of.

J

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 06:22 PM
And I noticed the "prevent defense" thing about guarding the lob too.

I was like "Jeez lady. . . who are you playing against?!?!"

J

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 06:24 PM
Heh, heh. Did you dig the part about how you should just throw up lobs and not worry so much about whether they are short?

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 06:32 PM
Heh, heh. Did you dig the part about how you should just throw up lobs and not worry so much about whether they are short?

My partner didn't. . .

J

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 06:37 PM
Good quote from my doubles partner to me after our match last week.

"I would really like to know what you are thinking when you play this game. Do you see the ball coming, and mentally go through your toolbox of the twenty or so shots you can possibly hit off their ball, and choose the most difficult one? What leads to a thought process of 'Let me run around my blistering forehand and hit a two handed backhand inside out topspin lob.'?"

J

For the record, 3/4 of my BH toppy lobs that night were well executed, and 2 landed untouched, while the other ticked off the opponents frame.

I can't imagine why he would hold that last one against me. :oops:

J

Casey10s
04-20-2009, 07:23 PM
There are two versions of the Art of Doubles. IIRC, the original doesn't preach staggered formation, but the second version does. I have big problems with the second version and do not follow it. I stick by the original.

I think the coach/captain may be thinking of the second version. He also doesn't like it when I follow a crosscourt shot to the net and shade toward the middle (Art of Doubles I). He says you need to cover that wide crosscourt angled return and shouldn't shade toward the middle (Art of Doubles II). I disagree; I prefer to protect the middle (the easy shot for my opponent) and make them hit the angled crosscourt winner if they want the point. He says his way (Art of Doubles II) covers the whole court. I say that is impossible; you can't cover everything.

This whole staggered formation thing . . . I dunno. I mean, I get it. I just think it is difficult to implement as an Actual Formation. It seems to happen by default. My partner is at net, so I shade back just a touch. No biggie.

I have one partner who is big into the staggered formation. Conversations between us seem centered on this idea. "OK, we'll do a staggered formation. And whoever is slightly in front will take the middle ball, OK? And then if there is a lob, the person in back will turn and run for the lob, got it?"

Geez. Seems a little formulaic to me. How about we communicate during points, call balls with "Mine", and dispense with some of these rigid rules? I mean, when I'm playing, I'm watching the opponents, not my partner. It is hard for me to make snap decisions about whether to play a particular ball based on where she is positioned a few feet one way or the other, which ought to be changing every second if she is moving as she should.

Fortunately, we are in sych about proper lateral movement, so that's something . . .

I was talking to my teaching pro friends a few weeks ago and we were talking about teaching styles. One style is that everything has a purpose and in a certain situation there is a right option and a wrong option. The right option is always right and the wrong option is always wrong. Basically high percentage tennis.

The other style is to go with the flow, let your athleticism take over and hit your best shot. Hitting your best shot may not always be the high percentage shot. But one will probably win their fair share of points by going with their best shot rather than trying to hit the high percentage shot using a less than optimal shot.

Both styles can work. It depends on the person.

Cindysphinx, sounds like you are more of the second style but trying to use the first style as your main philosophy. Maybe you should re-evaluate your point playing philosophy.

Me, I play more of the second style but use the first style to keep me in points until I can use my better shots to finish the point.

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 07:38 PM
Very smart, Casey. Good points.

To illustrate, there was another situation where he and I didn't agree on shot selection. We were doing a doubles drill in 1-up, 1-back formation, and I was in the hot seat. I was to start at the baseline in the deuce court and our team was supposed to handle whatever ball the coach/captain fed.

He fed a high deep lob over my partner in the ad court. My partner shuffled over to the deuce court and stayed at net. I ran over and prepared to hit a 2HBH topspin lob, aiming it over the net player toward the ad courtner. Alas, I mishit it and it went short, and the opponent hit an overhead winner.

Coach/captain said my shot selection was wrong. I was supposed to hit a BH drive up the line (opposing deep player had not taken the net).

Me, I wasn't so sure. First, the opposing deep player definitely should have taken the net the minute she saw the frazzled scramble on our side of the net. I would assume most 4.0 players would know to move up, so a BH drive would have to have some real heat on it not to get poached, especially given how deep I was in the court.

Even assuming he is right that the drive is the better and high-percentage choice, though, it isn't the better choice *for me.* On account of how a BH down the line is still a tough shot for me, so a running BH down the line is practically throwing away a point. OTOH, I do have a pretty good topspin lob off of both sides. If I had executed the shot the way I wanted, it would have been a difficult ball for the net player to reach, forcing the opponent to hit a high running BH. At which point I can come into net and pick off whatever shot she tries to make.

Generally, I do think high-percentage tennis is the way to go. But we have to account for the fact that not every player has every shot. If the high-percentage shot is a crosscourt volley and you don't have that volley, hit the volley you do have up the middle or down the line and hit it well, as that is better than a miss. Right?

J011yroger
04-20-2009, 07:56 PM
Generally, I do think high-percentage tennis is the way to go. But we have to account for the fact that not every player has every shot. If the high-percentage shot is a crosscourt volley and you don't have that volley, hit the volley you do have up the middle or down the line and hit it well, as that is better than a miss. Right?

Exactly.

Given the same exact ball, one player may knife a slice approach down the line, and come in to knock off a volley. Another player may not have the same tools in his box and would be better served by looping the ball back deep crosscourt and returning to the baseline.

Similarly, if you have a big slow guy he may need to take a crack at any ball he gets a good look at, where another guy who is a missile in a pair of nike's can run down everything his opponent throws at him, and would be better served by being more conservative in his shot selection.

Strategy is dependant on your skillset, the tools in your toolbox, and your physical attributes.

J

Casey10s
04-20-2009, 09:05 PM
Generally, I do think high-percentage tennis is the way to go. But we have to account for the fact that not every player has every shot. If the high-percentage shot is a crosscourt volley and you don't have that volley, hit the volley you do have up the middle or down the line and hit it well, as that is better than a miss. Right?

I think some pros forget that not everyone can hit every shot. As you and JollyRoger point out, you have to go with what you have and if you are playing someone you know well, what they don't have. If you can't hit a topspin backhand crosscourt ball that dips after going over the net, what is the use of hitting it even though it might be the best shot? Maybe your best shot is a flat backhand up the line. Sometimes hitting your best shot and forcing the other person to hit it for a winner makes the most sense, especially at the recreational level.

Two points about my game, I can hit the crosscourt forehand in doubles if I get enough time to set up. Usually I don't have the time with the people I play. Therefore I will hit a very flat forehand that clears the net by a few inches either splitting the players or go down the line. I will win more points this way because the opponents usually can't hit that shot well and we will get at least another chance to hit the ball. If I rush the crosscourt forehand, I will usually hit it wide.

For the other point, there is a guy I have faced in tournaments the last few years. He is a classic retriever that keeps the ball in play until you make a mistake. Also, doesn't hit with much pace. Very effective at it. I serve and volley almost every point and come to the net whenever I can. Because of his style, I know he can't consistently pass me. Also, when I volley, I play very safe on them for the same reason that he may get to the ball, but he won't pass me. I wait for a good opening to put the ball away for a winner. The last few times I played him, I beat him fairly easily. He plays some other guys at my level and gives them fits since they don't like coming to the net. I wouldn't use this style on many of the people I normally play because these people can hit very good passing shots. I have to play them a little more aggressively and take more chances as well as picking my time when to come to the net. A high percentage play against one person may not be a high percentage play against someone else.

moonbat
04-20-2009, 09:22 PM
Very smart, Casey. Good points.

To illustrate, there was another situation where he and I didn't agree on shot selection. We were doing a doubles drill in 1-up, 1-back formation, and I was in the hot seat. I was to start at the baseline in the deuce court and our team was supposed to handle whatever ball the coach/captain fed.

He fed a high deep lob over my partner in the ad court. My partner shuffled over to the deuce court and stayed at net. I ran over and prepared to hit a 2HBH topspin lob, aiming it over the net player toward the ad courtner. Alas, I mishit it and it went short, and the opponent hit an overhead winner.

Coach/captain said my shot selection was wrong. I was supposed to hit a BH drive up the line (opposing deep player had not taken the net).

Me, I wasn't so sure. First, the opposing deep player definitely should have taken the net the minute she saw the frazzled scramble on our side of the net. I would assume most 4.0 players would know to move up, so a BH drive would have to have some real heat on it not to get poached, especially given how deep I was in the court.

Even assuming he is right that the drive is the better and high-percentage choice, though, it isn't the better choice *for me.* On account of how a BH down the line is still a tough shot for me, so a running BH down the line is practically throwing away a point. OTOH, I do have a pretty good topspin lob off of both sides. If I had executed the shot the way I wanted, it would have been a difficult ball for the net player to reach, forcing the opponent to hit a high running BH. At which point I can come into net and pick off whatever shot she tries to make.

Generally, I do think high-percentage tennis is the way to go. But we have to account for the fact that not every player has every shot. If the high-percentage shot is a crosscourt volley and you don't have that volley, hit the volley you do have up the middle or down the line and hit it well, as that is better than a miss. Right?

Did she shuffle over to a volley position at net? Because you were in a defensive position, she should have dropped back to service line to protect in case your lob was taken out of the air. I don't think you hit a bad shot--I like to topspin lob off both wings myself (unless I eff them up badly). :(

origmarm
04-21-2009, 12:35 AM
Exactly.

Given the same exact ball, one player may knife a slice approach down the line, and come in to knock off a volley. Another player may not have the same tools in his box and would be better served by looping the ball back deep crosscourt and returning to the baseline.

Similarly, if you have a big slow guy he may need to take a crack at any ball he gets a good look at, where another guy who is a missile in a pair of nike's can run down everything his opponent throws at him, and would be better served by being more conservative in his shot selection.

Strategy is dependant on your skillset, the tools in your toolbox, and your physical attributes.

J

This is a great post. For me the idea of playing doubles (or singles for that matter) to a set of predefined "rules" such as Wardlaw for example is a strange concept. While they may help to determine the high percentage strategy for me the tennis you play has to be adapted to your style/abilities. In many ways sometimes the opposite play to the percentage play when in a good position is the smart one as it's the least expected.

To "revisit" the OP where you splitstep firmly depends on how the opponent has hit the ball, how you served, your strategy in receiving it etc..etc.... The timing is the key and everything else is a function of how you've adapted "best practice" to your style and ability.

As for J's players types I'm unfortunately firmly in the "big slow guy he may need to take a crack at any ball he gets a good look at" category. :)

deluxe
04-21-2009, 03:45 AM
But what of this Stop Sign idea? Do people do it that way, and how well does it work in practice?

Someone asked the question "how far back from the net should you be?" to Louis Cayer (Author of the ITF Doubles Tennis Tactics book, coach of many ATP #1 doubles teams, current coach of Andy & Jamie Murray) at a USPTA Norcal conference that I've got the DVDs for.

Assuming your opponent has a neutral rally ball and they're equally good at every shot, he says you should be able to cover the lob by leaping for your overhead from a couple of feet behind the service line. Your athletic ability and how good your footwork and technique are for the overhead will determine how close to the net you can get on a neutral ball to your opponent. He says he has had to move further back as he has got older because he's not as athletic as he was when he was 20.

I'd imagine for most 3.5-4.0 women, the service line might be a reasonable place to be able to hit your overheads from a couple of feet behind the service line. Of course the critical thing if you have to stand that far back is having the correct footwork to close the net when it is not a lob.

Cindysphinx
04-21-2009, 05:00 AM
Did she shuffle over to a volley position at net? Because you were in a defensive position, she should have dropped back to service line to protect in case your lob was taken out of the air. I don't think you hit a bad shot--I like to topspin lob off both wings myself (unless I eff them up badly). :(

Did my partner shuffle back to the service line, you mean?

No. My partner shuffled sideways to about the middle of the service box. She also did not react when opposing net player reached up for the overhead. Eh, whatever. That's pretty common at my level, for one thing. And bottom line, I blew it by missing my shot so badly.

When I'm at net and a lob goes over my head and will cause my partner to run to get a ball going to her BH, I switch go to the baseline rather than stay at the net. I figure whatever running BH she hits will be a weak shot, so I'm ready to defend and have closed the hole. If her shot is great, I might try to follow it right back in.

larry10s
04-21-2009, 07:36 AM
you are not realy closing the hole you are going from a one up one back switched position to 2 back. much stronger defence position when you are not sure your partner wont leave you a sitting duck at the net to eat the ball.again cindysphinx smart doubles

moonbat
04-21-2009, 11:32 AM
Did my partner shuffle back to the service line, you mean?

No. My partner shuffled sideways to about the middle of the service box. She also did not react when opposing net player reached up for the overhead. Eh, whatever. That's pretty common at my level, for one thing. And bottom line, I blew it by missing my shot so badly.

When I'm at net and a lob goes over my head and will cause my partner to run to get a ball going to her BH, I switch go to the baseline rather than stay at the net. I figure whatever running BH she hits will be a weak shot, so I'm ready to defend and have closed the hole. If her shot is great, I might try to follow it right back in.

Heh...I have one partner who turns her back and runs sideways off the court.
Could be worse, I guess. :shock: