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Cindysphinx
04-22-2009, 07:52 AM
I'm having a problem in doubles play. It's a positioning conundrum, I think. I have to fix this or I'm going to have a hard time at the higher end of ladies doubles. Here's the situation.

The opponents are two ladies who volley well. Who just love to come to net. They saunter up to the net after every service return, and they will sometimes even follow their (slow) serves to net also.

If I am serving or receiving and they come in, I try to hit an approach shot to their feet and come right to net also. If I hit to their feet, they will be forced to hit up. If it goes to my partner at net, she can win the point. If it goes to me, I was on my way in anyway and I might have a put-away. Or their defensive volley isn't hard for me to handle out of the air. Or if it is a drop volley, I'm right there. Or they will miss in their attempt to keep their volley low. It's all good.

The problem is that I sometimes play with partners who are not comfortable coming to net. They stay back as the opponents take the net. Which gives us three up and one back (my partner). I have no idea what to do when this happens, and I am getting killed.

Last night, it happened a lot. They would take the net, and I was already at net. If my partner hit a good shot low over the net or a dipper, they would defensively volley it back deep to her. Again and again they deflect her good groundstrokes with a floater volley directed to her at the baseline. Eventually, she would miss. Or she would leave one too high over the net. These they redirected to my feet. Just for kicks, they would sometimes take her dippers and hit little droppers in front of my partner that she couldn't reach. They won point after point after point in this way.

I was totally out of ideas. My pro has said that when the opponents take the net, you don't want to be really close (both because you need reaction time and you create a big hole), so I was playing just inside the service line. No good, they would angle it away from me or hit me in the shoes. I tried scrambling back to the baseline mid-point (and once even tried starting there). No good. I could see in the warm-up that they were perfectly capable of volleying short, and they did. I tried starting in no-man's land; this made no difference.

Seriously, what is the correct positioning and strategy for *me* in this situation? Don't say "Your partner has to come to net or hit better shots." Ain't gonna happen. I feel like I need to do something differently.

I am going to work with my pro on finding a way to return more of these volleys that were hit down on me, because I only got a couple back and only got one back for a winner. Is there anything else I can do? What percentage of these volleys should I be able to get back into play, anyway?

Cindy -- now 0-3 against these sorts of teams with these sorts of partners

larry10s
04-22-2009, 08:14 AM
unfortunately one up one back will never beat two up (at least almost never). if your partner cant come up you are destined to lose . find a partner that will come to net with you. when you are stuck in that situation you can try to poach the return, play 2 back when your partner recieves, or 2 back the whole match and try to win via their unfrced errors or if you get them off the net and you come up and try to poach the reply. worst of all is the partner who when you come foward to serve and volley they are moving backwards!!!!!

Nellie
04-22-2009, 08:32 AM
I have been thinking a lot about this, as I often have singles player partners who get pinned back and are hesitant to come forward.

Here are my observations, for what they are worth:

If your partner is hitting high or if you are playing high level opponents, you have to get back to a position right around the baseline (not too far back). I find that if you are up closer to the net, you cannot contribute because you will either get hit or create too much space between you and your partner for the opponents to hit to.

At a 3.5 or 4.0 level, if your partner is hitting lower, I think if it better for you to be playing right about the service line because the response to those will tend to be slower and shorter. You will take a lot of low balls but, you will also get to a lot of shots.

bukaeast
04-22-2009, 08:34 AM
Looks like you have tried all of the options on your side of the centerline.

how about "switching/poaching" often and randomly? Carry poaching to a new level.
If you can't get your paartner to come up, maybe they will be amenable to moving laterally...

Kind of like working off the I formation or Aussie starting the point.

I dunno...

larry10s
04-22-2009, 08:35 AM
cindy unfortunately you are at that tweener level of tennis. you dont play with a group that everyone can serve ,volley ,approach, understands court positioning etc for doubles. therefore when you play a team that knows HOW to play doubles you will lose when your partner just plays doubles but does not know HOW to play doubles. i agree yoy will never get them to come in and often they will get resentfull for you telling them what to do . at least that has been my experience. after 2 years of trying to get my partner of the day to play my style of doubles ie take the net and win the point i learned like you said it aint gonna happen. so when stuck i resign to the fact that ill do the best i can and will probably lose.

oldhacker
04-22-2009, 08:35 AM
Hi Cindy - I feel your pain and have been there myself with numerous partners. In general it is very difficult for 1 up 1 back to be effective against 2 up and, other things being equal, the net team will win hands down.

Having said that I do have one regular doubles partner who stays back with whom I have a very good record - even against aggressive net playing teams. This is because he at least realises the deficiency in his tactics and has developed a strategy to give him some chance. It also helps that he is deadly accurate (if not that powerful) with his groundstrokes, is lightening fast and can pull off decent shots on the run and at full stretch. His tactic when back against 2 net players is to thread a passing shot or straight down the middle if he has a shortish ball to deal with and to hit a lob if he is hitting from deep. He gets away with it at the equivalent of about US 4.0 level but against a 4.5 plus level doubles team their overheads and net coverage win over.

So if your partner will not come in then I suggest she needs to accept that she is not playing the best tactics and comes up with and practices a plan (such as lobs and passes) other than hitting back to the opposing net players until she misses or they put a volley away.

Just for kicks, they would sometimes take her dippers and hit little droppers in front of my partner that she couldn't reach. They won point after point after point in this way.

I find the example you give above to be such a killer in doubles matches. I find it mostly happens when I am at the net and am forced to play a difficult volley (ie one I cannot put away) which I play low and cross court only for the opposing team to dig up a drop volley into the space which exists because my partner has not moved up when he saw I was going to volley. I tell every partner that they must move up when they see I am hitting a volley but do they do it? No.

spaceman_spiff
04-22-2009, 08:37 AM
Maybe you could try poaching off your partner's return more. If she hits a good return at the feet, you might get some easy pickings off the defensive volley. If you don't reach it, your partner can always lob and switch sides with you.

Still, it sounds to me like your partner isn't being offensive enough from the baseline. If your opponents' serves are slow enough to give her time to pick her shot, she should be able to attack the feet as a set up for her or you to put away, even from the baseline. If she's not achieving those results, then perhaps her returns are too conservative.

I've loved playing net-rushers with creampuff serves. I hardly ever have to come in to net. I just attack the feet and then my partner (who has stayed up to poach or pick up drop volleys) or I attack the next shot or lob (offensive). If you're partner isn't taking those creampuffs and setting the two of you up with easy pickings, then she's not doing something right.

larry10s
04-22-2009, 08:39 AM
fortunately for you you are improving and as you play with better players you wont be stuck with partners who stay back:)

PushyPushster
04-22-2009, 09:18 AM
Cindy -

You can win with this style of tennis assuming your partner is fast at the baseline and can lob. If she's going to stay back then she has to realize the baseline is hers - pretty much the whole thing. Almost like she's playing singles. You aren't going to be able to cover a volley toward your feet so she had better be sitting on the "T" ready to dig. Anyhow, here's a suggestion which will get a little pressure using this formation:

Try moving toward the middle of the net (or where ever will put the most pressure on the other team) - have your partner move to center baseline. Kind of like the "I" formation in football. You be super aggressive while she is super defensive. Throw that into the mix occassionally and it will keep your opponents a little more honest.

Btw, I'm assuming your partner has skills at the baseline to make up for her lack at the net. If not, then maybe playing two-back might give you better percentages.

Good luck!

Cindysphinx
04-22-2009, 09:28 AM
Cindy -

Try moving toward the middle of the net (or where ever will put the most pressure on the other team) - have your partner move to center baseline. Kind of like the "I" formation in football. You be super aggressive while she is super defensive. Throw that into the mix occassionally and it will keep your opponents a little more honest.


OK, I've never heard of this or tried this. Which means it has potential!

First, let's talk about when she is serving. Say we line up this way (she serves from the middle like in singles, and I line up right near the T). She serves up the middle. I'm a little far back to execute a decent poach. Do I move up when her serve lands?

Second, let's talk about when she is receiving. I already line up at the T, so that's easy. She has to stand wherever she needs to be to get the serve back, so how would this work?

Care to elaborate?

I think part of the problem was a 3-and-a-pro clinic I did yesterday. We did a drill where two players rallied crosscourt and the third player was at net looking to poach. Pro got us into the mindset that it is the job of the net player to win the point. That said, we got scolded anytime we poached a ball that was not appropriate (too hot, too low, too far away). And he was right, because even if the net player touched these unpoachable balls, she usually hit a miserable shot that the opposing net player would attack.

So I spent a good part of the match at the net thinking, "Nope, not gonna poach that ball." And since there were no crosscourt rallies (just my partner trying to hit passing shots), that was the only chance to poach that I got.

PushyPushster
04-22-2009, 10:13 AM
During your partner's serve I would stand where you normally do and react to the ball. If she hits wide then move far enough over to cut off the cross court return and make them hit down the line. It's not a surprise poach - move early enough that they have to change their regular shot. Apply some pressure which is currently absent. It sounds like your opponents are patiently hitting cross-court to your teammate until they see a nice approach shot and then they move in at little risk. When I said "super aggressive" I didn't mean jumping at anything you could touch, but rather staking a claim in the center of the net and making the other team change what they're doing. I'm not sure what you should do when she receives - it depends on how good her service return is - but the general principle remains the same. Move to the center and prevent them from getting into a cross court groove.

Btw, no one will agree with this advice. Certainly not a tennis pro. But I'm in the same position as your partner (won't go to the net) and doing stuff like this - at the 3.5 level anyhow - works. I hope your partner has wheels, though.

larry10s
04-22-2009, 10:22 AM
dont mean to be negative but you in the i formation once they are 2 up if you dont get to the first ball your sunk

PushyPushster
04-22-2009, 10:29 AM
dont mean to be negative but you in the i formation once they are 2 up if you dont get to the first ball your sunk

Not sure exactly what you mean. Cindy would take the center almost immediately, well before they make it to two-up on a good approach, so they should have some chances to either force an error or get a volley.

Cindysphinx
04-22-2009, 10:41 AM
Just to be clear, there never was a second ball.

In other words, they followed *every* service return to the net when my partner was back. I had exactly one chance to poach: the service return. If they were serving, they either S&V or came in on the second ball. That was what was so frustrating. If they looped their first ball 15 feet in the air, I couldn't reach it, and they followed it in.

blakesq
04-22-2009, 10:44 AM
Why don't you tell your partner that you she needs to come up to net? If she refuses, you either need to play with someone else, or just grin and bear it and simply work on your game, poaching, etc.


The problem is that I sometimes play with partners who are not comfortable coming to net. They stay back as the opponents take the net. Which gives us three up and one back (my partner). I have no idea what to do when this happens, and I am getting killed.

PushyPushster
04-22-2009, 11:05 AM
In other words, they followed *every* service return to the net when my partner was back.

Does your partner habitually hit short? That's gonna hurt. Still, I think there is some benefit to taking the center and forcing your opponents to mix up their shots.

Just out of curiousity, why does your partner always stay back? I was thinking she was trying to maximize a strength, but that's sounding less likely. :-)

Cindysphinx
04-22-2009, 11:23 AM
Why? Habit and lack of confidence in her net play. Same as most people my level.

Nah, I wouldn't say she habitually hits short. One of the ladies liked to hit a moonball as that first ball. This made it easy for her to get in and backed my partner up.

larry10s
04-22-2009, 11:42 AM
Not sure exactly what you mean. Cindy would take the center almost immediately, well before they make it to two-up on a good approach, so they should have some chances to either force an error or get a volley. when she is in the center she exposes herself to passes. if her poach is not successful she is out of position they are 2 up and her team is doomed. you can give a good fight but 1 up 1back against 2 up is custards last stand or the alamo. you are fighting a losing battle. face it.

moonbat
04-22-2009, 11:50 AM
If your partner doesn't want to come to net, she should make sure she can get the return at the net rusher's feet, hit it low down the middle or hit a good lob over the net person. No reason why these ladies should be able to waltz to the net.

GPB
04-22-2009, 12:13 PM
I played a friendly dubs game with my buddy, who was about to become my doubles partner in the upcoming flex league in my area, and had a similar situation. He's plenty confidant in his volleys, and in mine, but would never come up to the net with me. He insisted that 1up 1back was safer and was the best way to play.

One time when he saw me serve-and-volley, he actually moved back to cover the baseline. Our opponents saw this and hit him a half-volley as he was backpedaling. I turned and was like, "What are you doing, man? Let's claim the high ground!" He didn't feel safe without someone in the back though.

The league ended up not having enough teams to sign up for doubles, thankfully.

OrangePower
04-22-2009, 12:41 PM
Cindy: Presumably, when you are serving, your partner is already at the net, and you are following your serve in, so no issue there.

When receiving, you try to follow your return in, but your partner is not comfortable doing that. Not the end of the world - actually in pro tennis returns don't get followed in that often due to the high quality of the serves. The key is for your partner to try keep the returns mainly low and crosscourt, or lob, depending on the serve and your partner's skills. Now the onus is on *you* to react based on the quality of the return. With a good return, you might have an opportunity to be aggressive at the net for the next shot (poaching if need be). If the return is not so good, your best bet is to back up and play 2 back. 1 up 1 back against 2 up is a losing proposition *unless* the back player can consistently challenge the 2 up team with low dipping volleys.

Lastly, what do do on your partners serve, if she is not comfortable following it in, and the returners are taking advantage. Best bet is to just mix up your formations and poaches. Play some regular (with signals for poaching), play some Australian, play some I. For the I, mix up whether you're going to move left, right, or stay in the center to intercept the return of serve. If your opponents don't know where you're gonna be, they can't be sure of where to hit it to keep it away from you. Plus, the added pressure of maybe needing to change the shot at the last moment is usually good for a few extra errors.

The vulnerability of the above is the return lob. So let's hope your partner can cover those well :-)

NoBadMojo
04-22-2009, 01:44 PM
The 10 foot rope paradigm almost always applies...It's the most elemental basic of dubs there is

LuckyR
04-22-2009, 02:48 PM
Many good answers especially the 2 back vs 2 up play. However, if your partner is an aggressive baseliner (doesn't sound like it in reality), the 1up/1back vs 2 up can work out. The vast majority of the time the last opponent to approach the net will do so with a shot to the deep player. if the baseliner can tee off on the groundie, the net folks will (and should) continue to hit shots to the deep player, ie they won't be able to cram the ball down the throat of the lone netman. Eventually the netman can win the point by passing the other team or more likely by forcing a volley error. Naturally you are going to run into a number of superior lobbers who can also solve the problem of 2 up with a good shot.

PushyPushster
04-22-2009, 02:56 PM
you can give a good fight but 1 up 1back against 2 up is custards last stand or the alamo. you are fighting a losing battle. face it.

At the 3.5 level? It's not that bad. Pop up a lob and make them prove the overhead smash. At 3.5 men's I would say that less than 20% of the players can reliably paste a decent lob. Surely the women can't be much better.

Speaking of which - can your partner lob, Cindy? If she insists on remaining glued to the baseline that's an important shot.

Cindysphinx
04-22-2009, 03:39 PM
No, she can't lob. I mean, she can, but she often hits them way short and so doesn't hit this shot in matches. We've tried to work on this together, but she tends to hit under the ball rather than brushing up the back of the ball. She figured maybe she'd get better mileage out of other things.

In her and my defense, it is still very rare at 3.5 to have to opponents who take the net *and* can volley. Lots of players crash the net because a pro told them to, but they'll cough up as many points as they win, so they aren't anything to worry about. The combination of willingness to move in and a solid volley is deadly.

We do practice together, and perhaps this match will give us something new to work on. I think we both should work hard on hitting dippers. Maybe the way to do this is to rally with one person having her toes on the service line and the other at the baseline. The net person works on half-volleys, and the deep player works on topspin?

Is there a better way to practice this?

Fedace
04-22-2009, 03:47 PM
If you have a partner who doesn't like to take the net, then she at least has to learn to lob effectively. and once you develop a accurate lob then these net rushers can't just run in and hit volleys down on your feet. and Once the lob goes over their heads, your partner has to come in, even though she may not like it.
Or, you could stay back with her and lob and once the lob goes over their heads then you can rush in together with your partner. If she absolutely Cannot volley or hit Overheads then she doesn't belong in your level.

Fedace
04-22-2009, 03:51 PM
No, she can't lob. I mean, she can, but she often hits them way short and so doesn't hit this shot in matches. We've tried to work on this together, but she tends to hit under the ball rather than brushing up the back of the ball. She figured maybe she'd get better mileage out of other things.

In her and my defense, it is still very rare at 3.5 to have to opponents who take the net *and* can volley. Lots of players crash the net because a pro told them to, but they'll cough up as many points as they win, so they aren't anything to worry about. The combination of willingness to move in and a solid volley is deadly.

We do practice together, and perhaps this match will give us something new to work on. I think we both should work hard on hitting dippers. Maybe the way to do this is to rally with one person having her toes on the service line and the other at the baseline. The net person works on half-volleys, and the deep player works on topspin?

Is there a better way to practice this?

Oh sorry, you just answered my question. If she is 3.5 and can't lob, once again she doesn't belong in this level. Working on half volley is a good idea. You will be surprised how well you can half-volley with some practice and see how easy it really is.
As for the topspin, it is much more difficult for woman to develop a Nadal like topspin shots. it maybe the grip needed. you need a western or semi-western grip. but most woman use eastern grip...:(

Dishiki
04-22-2009, 03:51 PM
Based on what you are saying, you need a new partner, or she needs to learn to play doubles. She doesn't like net. So she is forcing herself at the baseline, yet she cannot be an effective baseliner in doubles without a lob shot.

So many times you can catch your opponent coming into the net with an effective lob, especially at that level, as they tend to overrun and close way closer to the net than they need to be.

raiden031
04-22-2009, 04:26 PM
Based on what you are saying, you need a new partner, or she needs to learn to play doubles.

Ding, ding, we have a winner! I have come to this conclusion when it comes to doing better at doubles myself. If you have a partner that has a major deficiency in their doubles game, there is only so much you can do. I'm too stubborn to play hack doubles such as starting two-back or playing mixed singles or whatever. I just try to put myself in a position where I'm partnered with decent players. And I play my game focusing on how I can improve, not how my partner can improve because I can't control whether my partner wants to improve or not. They will play their game and I will play mine. If we are incompatible, then I will try not to play with them again.

larry10s
04-22-2009, 04:39 PM
cindy this is my question for you. do you want to try (work on) a way to beat players that come to net and get to 2 up before your team does? or do hope to get to 4.0 /4.5 when you will serve and volley 1st and 2nd serve and follow your return into the net and play with someone who can #1 place their serve #2 when you say I formation they can execute the signals # 3 you can count on if you are pulled wide they understand their position MAY be beyond center #3 THEY will serve and volley #4 THey will look at being at the net as which ball can i finish off for a winner. thats the doubles i think you strive for. the rest is b****sh**t. you are ready fir REAL tennis . get out of 3.5 land . set your goals on 4.0 /4.5 YOU CAN DO IT.

larry10s
04-22-2009, 04:40 PM
the real question is at what level do you want to play?

Xisbum
04-22-2009, 05:16 PM
the rest is b****sh**t. you are ready fir REAL tennis . get out of 3.5 land . set your goals on 4.0 /4.5 YOU CAN DO IT.

Wow. I've been deep in b***sh*t tennis for years and didn't know it. I think I'll kill myself since I can't be a "real" tennis player. Thanks for showing me the error of my ways.

larry10s
04-22-2009, 06:21 PM
there is no error in your ways. there are alot of people who will be 3.5 for life. they will enjoy their games have fun and spend their life in tennis, once you you start having problems because you partner wont come to net you are beyond that . what level you play and what is enjoyable for you is a personal decision and their is no right or wrong. but if you want to play at 4.0/4.5 you should not try to, make 30. /3.5 tennis work or frustrate you

larry10s
04-22-2009, 06:28 PM
i know many people at 2.5 /3.0 who have a blast playing. thats great for them everyone should play at a comfort level for them . it depends on your goals and what you want to acomplish. cindy from the few posts ive read takes lessons because she wants to improve. she studiesd tennis because she wants to improve. she needs in my humble opinion play with like minded players and people who cream her to improve. otherwise she can be the queen of 3.5 but i dont get a scence that that is her goals.cindy am i wrong?

spaceman_spiff
04-23-2009, 01:12 AM
We do practice together, and perhaps this match will give us something new to work on. I think we both should work hard on hitting dippers. Maybe the way to do this is to rally with one person having her toes on the service line and the other at the baseline. The net person works on half-volleys, and the deep player works on topspin?

Is there a better way to practice this?

That would be a great way to practice. I would also suggest doing this cross-court rather than having both in the middle. That's because it's almost always the case that the last one into the net is cross-court from the person at the baseline hitting a groundstroke.

If you do it that way, the person at the baseline will get practice at targeting the cross-court net-man, and the person at the service line will get practice at half-volleys away from a poachable area.

raiden031
04-23-2009, 04:31 AM
i know many people at 2.5 /3.0 who have a blast playing. thats great for them everyone should play at a comfort level for them . it depends on your goals and what you want to acomplish. cindy from the few posts ive read takes lessons because she wants to improve. she studiesd tennis because she wants to improve. she needs in my humble opinion play with like minded players and people who cream her to improve. otherwise she can be the queen of 3.5 but i dont get a scence that that is her goals.cindy am i wrong?

I agree with what you say, but it is certainly easier said than done. Do you think Cindy plays 3.5 because she prefers that level of play? No, its because that is the level in which she is most competitive. Its hard coming from 3.5 to associate with 4.0-4.5 players when to them you are the weak player holding them back. Its probably very frustrating for players like Cindy (and I) who use 3.5 as a stepping stone but get held back because our peers who we partner with don't share the same motivation. Good players/partners are in high demand in leagues so you don't always have your first pick.

I had to use singles as my gateway to 4.0. If it wasn't for singles, I would surely still be rated a 3.5. And if I was still rated 3.5, it is unlikely that I had the social connections to make my way onto a 4.0 team this year. Just having the rating listed in tennislink opens doors.

Cindysphinx
04-23-2009, 06:43 AM
Larry, the problem is that everyone wants a partner who is stronger than they are. The number of players at 3.5 who want to improve -- and by that I mean do the things that will help you improve -- is pitifully small. Of this group, it not possible to simply waltz up to them and ask to be their doubles partner.

Ya gotta play with whoever the captain gives you. That's why I wanted to know what *I* could do to increase the chances we would win given my partner's issues with approaching the net.

As Raiden says, the better players have their little world, and I can't blame them for not including me in it -- yet. After all, when I need a fourth, I look for someone who can hang with us at 3.5-ish level.

cak
04-23-2009, 07:34 AM
If your partner is a 3.5, meaning she's consistent on her ground strokes, you can win playing 1 up, 1 back. There are matches my partner and I do that. Just explain to her that her job is to set you up. That's my mindset when I'm playing back. Hit something that will make them pop up the ball. Sometimes that's a lob, sometimes that's a down the line or down the middle low shot they have to jab at, sometimes it's a dipper at their feet. If I can get a few lobs close at the beginning of the game they won't crowd the net, in fear of the lob, making hitting at their feet easier. Anything they hit even a little bit up is my partners, and she puts it away.

We don't always play this strategy, but there is one club around here where the pros tell the ladies to get to the net no matter what. They have inconsistent approach shots, dubious overheads, and don't volley well when they are over 4 feet from the net. Against that type of team this works great.

Nellie
04-23-2009, 07:45 AM
Also, at least in social doubles, I think that one of the points of the whole endeavor is to learn how to adapt your game to complement your partner. If your partner cannot come to the net, then you are usually better staying back as well and playing a ground stroke game. Obvious it would not (and has not) worked for you to attack kamakazi to the net. I often think about strategy after matches and cannot wait to get back on the court to try out new things.

For example, if your partner does not like to come up and you only have 1 chance to poach (on the return of serve) why not plan more poaches/switches, especially, if your partner can place the serve down the middle? I find, personally, that returns of serve get so much harder with an active net person, as I try risky shots extreme crosscourt/down the line.

Cindysphinx
04-23-2009, 07:49 AM
We don't always play this strategy, but there is one club around here where the pros tell the ladies to get to the net no matter what. They have inconsistent approach shots, dubious overheads, and don't volley well when they are over 4 feet from the net. Against that type of team this works great.

CAK, apparently there is way more than one such club around here!

I played in our day league this winter, which is still in its infancy. More of the local country clubs are fielding teams in this league because the country club leagues go on hiatus for the winter.

These doubles pairs have apparently had it pounded into them that they need to Get To The Net. They come in on everything. They come in behind push serves, first and second. The first time I played such a pair last year, the lady came in behind a serve so weak that it actually took me by surprise. "What is she doing up there? Did she drop an earring near the net and is coming up to look for it?"

These teams are very easy to beat *if* you don't panic just because two people are at net. That is a mighty big "if", though. Many of my teammates have little experience in anything other than 1 up, 1 back because that is mostly what you see at 3.0 ladies and 6.5 combo. So you have to avoid panic and own the shots you described.

That said, my three losses to these Club Pro teams came against women who really could volley and actually did have an overhead. One self-rated woman was so proficient with her volleys and transition play that I was sure she would be disqualified at 3.5. No one that good could be a 3.5, I thought. Nope, she wasn't DQ'd. She was just way better at Club Pro tennis than my partner and me.

Cindysphinx
04-23-2009, 08:02 AM
Nellie, I'm not convinced (yet) that planned poaches will work well at our level.

I'm finding a really big disparity at high 3.5/4.0 between the serves of most players and the returns of most players. It is quite rare to find a 3.5/4.0 woman who has a serve that will bother most of her peers. On the other hand, it is quite common to find women at that level with strong groundstrokes. In addition, the slow pace of the serves allow returners to run around their BH and smack the FH. (I play ad side, and I can play entire sets without hitting a BH return).

So even if my partner places her serve up the middle -- and let's remember that she will need to take off some pace to ensure the placement -- the returners can spank a low, flat return that I will find very hot to handle most of the time.

I used to be able to do poaches -- planned or unplanned -- at 3.0 because the returns were slow. I think I'd get smoked if I tried it against high 3.5/4.0. And we haven't even talked about the moonballers who will simply spin a ball high enough that the planned poacher cannot reach it or will frame it.

In fact, we practiced this at my last 4.0 ladies practice. It was a catastrophe. Part of it was that our coach made it way too complicated IMHO. First you signaled Go or Stay. Then you signaled serve location wide, middle or T. Me, I think beginners should forget signaling the serve location. Besides, if the signal is stay, then the serve location is much less important, and if the signal is go, the serve shouldn't be out wide, right?

Anyway, the other problem we had was that the coach said that the poacher was allowed to abandon the poach. Which can't be right, can it? If the poacher can abandon the poach, then you have a situation where the signaled poach is behaving exactly like a spontaneous poach. So why bother signaling?

When I served, I was so rattled by all of this (partner is giving me two signals, plus the fact that she's allowed to bail out) that I was completely paralyzed.

So far, I'm finding that planned poaching at my level is a very good way to lose your serve.

Dishiki
04-23-2009, 08:09 AM
I'm not sure you are doing poaches effectively. Alot of playing net is deception. When I poach, most of the time the returner does not see it. From the deuce side, I'll fake left then poach. If you give a returner time to see what you are doing, you are hosed.

I think you need to practice with your partner if you guys are going to be playing alot, and practice against a team that brings two in all the time. I am sure she was pressing if she wasn't used to seeing the formation. She needs to get comfortable seeing it, and she absolutely has to learn how to hit a lob.

Or just drop two back so you have an opportunity to hit shots instead of getting tatooed. At the 3.5 level, people tend to miss overheads quite often. Throw up defensive lobs, run down balls, go hard at the net player. Become a counter puncher in essence, trying to keep points alive until they make a mistake.

Nellie
04-23-2009, 08:28 AM
I think that too many players are hesitent to poach because they remember the lost points. If you do not poach, however, the other team can just wack returns without ever thinking about you (at net), and you are losing anyway according to your prior posts, so what is the worst that can happen? If you poach badly, at least the returner has to change their aim. Also, as mentioned by Dishiki, poaching a couple of times allows you to fake but stay, giving you a better chance for a couple of balls at the net.

It is like in football - sometimes you need to run/pass the ball to keep the defense honest.

By the way, I think your coach is not helping you much. Try this more simple signallng when you are at net- open hand goes (poaches) / closed fist stays. Your partner serves wherever, but the further down the middle the serve, the more you need to get over, and the further wide, the more your partner needs to move to cover the return angles.

P.S., in my observation, poaches do not work well at 3.5 level because (1) the net person leaves too late; and (2) the server does not cover down the line. If you (the net person) goes too late, you cannot cover the return angle. Others may disagree, but if you leave too early, the worst that can happen is that the return will go down the line, which your partner should be able to cover. You may encourage your partner to set up more to the middle of the court when serving if she is struggling to cover the return down the line.

larry10s
04-23-2009, 08:28 AM
cindy if you have 4.0 ladies practice isnt that a ticket to play up?

Cindysphinx
04-23-2009, 08:42 AM
cindy if you have 4.0 ladies practice isnt that a ticket to play up?

Yeah, I'm on two 3.5 teams and one 4.0 team, so I'm definitely playing up!

Cindysphinx
04-23-2009, 08:44 AM
Who came up with these signals, anyway? They are totally backward. Closed fist should be poach (the closed fist is powerful, like in boxing). The open hand should be stay (it's how you tell someone to stop).

Don't get me started on why one finger is out wide and three fingers is up the middle. Or maybe it is the other way.

Cindy -- who felt like using one finger and having it be the middle one

larry10s
04-23-2009, 08:58 AM
unfortunately one up one back will never beat two up (at least almost never). if your partner cant come up you are destined to lose . find a partner that will come to net with you. when you are stuck in that situation you can try to poach the return, play 2 back when your partner recieves, or 2 back the whole match and try to win via their unfrced errors or if you get them off the net and you come up and try to poach the reply. worst of all is the partner who when you come foward to serve and volley they are moving backwards!!!!! i go back to this post . if you are stuck with this partner try to get her to practice lobbing, her recognizing if its going to be short and warn you (very important) so you can get out of dodge, if she can hit dipping balls thru the middle thats a bonus. still until you get to 4.0 you will be in situations where you are playing uneven levels and understandings of the game and you do the best you can.good luck

kylebarendrick
04-23-2009, 09:52 AM
Open hand means you are leaving your side open - that may help you remember.

larry10s
04-23-2009, 10:02 AM
Who came up with these signals, anyway? They are totally backward. Closed fist should be poach (the closed fist is powerful, like in boxing). The open hand should be stay (it's how you tell someone to stop).

Don't get me started on why one finger is out wide and three fingers is up the middle. Or maybe it is the other way.

Cindy -- who felt like using one finger and having it be the middle one
the signals i was taug ht are open had go closed hand stay and for serve location your pinky and thumb were used .if you are standing in the ad court server is serving deuce side your left thumb would be up the t and pinky would be wide since those fingers are closest to those locations. when the server is on the ad side and you are in the deuce box your left pinky with you hand behind your back is up the t and your thumb would be wide. if your partner did aor said something you did not like than you would use the middle of the middle three fingers to send a messaage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

larry10s
04-23-2009, 10:03 AM
Open hand means you are leaving your side open - that may help you remember.
nice . never thought of it that way

PushyPushster
04-23-2009, 01:54 PM
No, she can't lob. I mean, she can, but she often hits them way short and so doesn't hit this shot in matches.

That gives me a whole new appreciation of your problem. I'm a big believer that, at the 3.5 level, if a team can maximize their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses they can win in all kinds of really weird ways. The problem is that your partner isn't maximizing a strength. If anything, she's minimizing *your* strength. That's not cool.

I've got to tap out because I don't think you're going to win, except by luck, if your opponents are good net players and your married-to-the-baseline partner can't lob. I wish you luck, though.

Nellie
04-23-2009, 01:59 PM
I was watching a video of the Bryan brothers today, and noticed that even when one is pinned back, such as after returning serve and the opponents are both back, the other Bryan at the net moves forward to try to get the ball, unless the ball is high and an overhead is coming.

OrangePower
04-23-2009, 02:05 PM
Don't get me started on why one finger is out wide and three fingers is up the middle. Or maybe it is the other way

the signals i was taug ht are ... and for serve location your pinky and thumb were used .if you are standing in the ad court server is serving deuce side your left thumb would be up the t and pinky would be wide since those fingers are closest to those locations. when the server is on the ad side and you are in the deuce box your left pinky with you hand behind your back is up the t and your thumb would be wide. if your partner did aor said something you did not like than you would use the middle of the middle three fingers to send a messaage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe the convention for serve location signals varies by region... because here we use three fingers for wide (three fingers = three lines in a 'W'), two fingers for down the T (two lines in a 'T'), and one finger for a serve to the body (by default I guess).

We use the thumb and pinky for something else - when in I formation, to indicate intended direction of movement by the net player. (Other than in I formation, we use the standard fist / open hand to indicate stay / poach.)

robby c
04-23-2009, 02:13 PM
Cindy,
I didn't see anything about which side you're playing. This week I had to switch from deuce to ad to help out a new partner. Last match our opponents attacked his backhand, and I had trouble poaching with my backhand volley.
By switching me to ad in practice this week I was able to cover his weaker backhand with my forehand groundstroke on shots up the middle, and I gained more reach at net when he hit his crosscourt forehand. I just wish I'd thought of it last Sunday.
Robby C