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Cindysphinx
11-30-2009, 01:06 PM
I have played a couple of 7.0 mixed matches this season with a particular 3.5 male partner. I love the guy to death. He encourages me to come in, is uniformly positive, understands doubles, is a good player, appreciates my paltry contributions. We have won more matches than we have lost over two seasons.

One reason I like him so is that he helps take care of my serve. I have played with partners who check out when I am serving: Frozen with one foot in doubles alley, or starting every point too far back to poach on my serve. I have also played with partners with poor net games who cost me more points than they earn on my serve. Not this guy, though. He fakes and tries to be a nuisance and has good hands.

Until recently.

In our last two matches when I am serving to the male opponent (one against a 3.5 guy who got moved up to 4.0, the other against a 4.0 guy who got moved up to 4.5), he has started points on my serve at the baseline with me. He has simply told me early in the match that he's going to start two back and move in when the opportunity arises.

This really, really got to me.

I will grant you that I do not have the serve of a 4.0 man. I have a good serve for a 3.5 woman, though. My 3.5 female opponent couldn't even get most of my serves back in play. My serve this season is not much different from my serve last season, when this male partner played the net aggressively.

Having him retreat to the baseline was the kiss of death in these two most recent matches. I simply could not hold serve with him back there. The opposing guy took these gigantic cuts at the ball, unimpeded by the risk of being poached, and I couldn't do a thing. Knowing that the ball would be coming back to me at 90 mph was so unnerving that my serve actually had less on it than when I served to the female, on account of how I was shaking like a leaf and also feeling badly that my partner clearly had no confidence in me at all.

What do you make of this? Should I have done anything differently? I kind of didn't feel it was right of me to ask him to get up to the net. That's his call to make, and he obviously handled it this way because he thought my serving was poor.

I have to admit that I was quite envious of my female opponent, though. Her partner was bobbing and weaving and poaching and faking and doing whatever he could to pressure our returns -- even though her serve was *considerably* weaker than mine. When my partner cracked the ball at him or passed him, he took it in stride and kept right at it.

How normal is this? How should I handle it if it happens again? How about it, you guys who play mixed? Do you ever abandon the net completely when your female partner serves? I really want to make this partnership work because I do like this guy and think we do pretty well together.

gameboy
11-30-2009, 01:11 PM
If the opponent is hitting 90mph return of serve (no matter whether or not someone is at the net), it is probably not a bad idea to stay back.

I can't speak for others, but the "fear" of poaching does not make me hit returns any slower than I normally would. Actually, I think it would make me try to hit even harder so that I know I can get it by the net person or force an error when he poaches.

sureshs
11-30-2009, 01:12 PM
He has started standing back so he can observe you from behind. Take it from me, he will ask you to bend down in the I formation soon.

Ripper014
11-30-2009, 01:14 PM
Been there done that... but being a strong net player I will not abandon the net. However... there have been times where I felt hung out to dry. But the returner normally stops going at me when he realizes I can defend myself at the net.

I think your partner is kindly telling you that he is not comfortable at the net when your opponent is returning the ball. I am surprised that he was not willing to at least play the net on the womens return.

I guess you can always ask your partner up front why he is not willing to play with your standard tactics... but then you would have to be willing accept his evaluation of the situation.

SlapChop
11-30-2009, 01:14 PM
time for a game plan talk with your partner . I always just tell them what I think during the match and we try things till we find what works.

Ripper014
11-30-2009, 01:17 PM
If the opponent is hitting 90mph return of serve (no matter whether or not someone is at the net), it is probably not a bad idea to stay back.

I can't speak for others, but the "fear" of poaching does not make me hit returns any slower than I normally would. Actually, I think it would make me try to hit even harder so that I know I can get it by the net person or force an error when he poaches.

If I am facing someone with a fast serve... then I basically decide before I hit my return... If I am facing someone with a slower serve... under 75 mph... I can hold the ball on my racket long enough to wait for the net man to make his move. But I agree the net man moving around does not affect my return.

Ripper014
11-30-2009, 01:18 PM
He has started standing back so he can observe you from behind. Take it from me, he will ask you to bend down in the I formation soon.

Hey I thought this was men's locker room stuff... you have broken the code.

gameboy
11-30-2009, 01:25 PM
You can also look at it this way.

If I see a nice sitter serve (any serve where I can hit a 90mph return is a sitter), and I am playing a competitive match, I am hitting that ball to the netman - every time. There is a very little chance that the netman will have enough reflex time to return that ball. I don't care about poaching at all.

I usually play closer towards the service line when my partner has a weak serve and I concentrate on moving forward with a split step so that I can react quicker. However, if I start seeing really hard returns, I am going to start moving back even further.

raiden031
11-30-2009, 01:27 PM
If the opponent is hitting 90mph return of serve (no matter whether or not someone is at the net), it is probably not a bad idea to stay back.

I can't speak for others, but the "fear" of poaching does not make me hit returns any slower than I normally would. Actually, I think it would make me try to hit even harder so that I know I can get it by the net person or force an error when he poaches.

It is stupid to stand at the baseline when your partner is serving. No matter how weak your partner's serve or how good the opponent's return, the worst case scenario is that you are unable to poach. You can just stay home in the middle of the service box and cut off some of the returns, but if you are at the baseline the returner has no pressure and can hit it wherever they want (which will always be to the weaker partner).

raiden031
11-30-2009, 01:30 PM
You can also look at it this way.

If I see a nice sitter serve (any serve where I can hit a 90mph return is a sitter), and I am playing a competitive match, I am hitting that ball to the netman - every time. There is a very little chance that the netman will have enough reflex time to return that ball. I don't care about poaching at all.

I usually play closer towards the service line when my partner has a weak serve and I concentrate on moving forward with a split step so that I can react quicker. However, if I start seeing really hard returns, I am going to start moving back even further.

This would only be effective against players who stand too close to the net. Playing deep in the service box and the net person should have enough time to react, however they are playing more defensive tennis up there (but still better than the baseline).

Kostas
11-30-2009, 01:32 PM
If the opponent is hitting 90mph return of serve (no matter whether or not someone is at the net), it is probably not a bad idea to stay back.

I can't speak for others, but the "fear" of poaching does not make me hit returns any slower than I normally would. Actually, I think it would make me try to hit even harder so that I know I can get it by the net person or force an error when he poaches.

I thought basically this as I was reading your post.

If he really was smashing returns I doubt having someone at the net was going to change that.

However, I never see a reason to retreat to the baseline unless you are getting really abused by returns at the net...

I would just tell him to get his pansy *** back at the net and play like a man...if he starts takin some (at least 3) of these 90mph returns in the chops...THEN he can go back...

But I honestly don't think it changes the outcome of the match...it sounds to me like they were a better team overall.

gameboy
11-30-2009, 01:33 PM
This would only be effective against players who stand too close to the net. Playing deep in the service box and the net person should have enough time to react, however they are playing more defensive tennis up there (but still better than the baseline).

That is true, but then I start hitting it with more topspin so the ball is at their feet, which also very difficult to return. Unless the person is a very good volleyer, I am going to attack him.

raiden031
11-30-2009, 02:03 PM
That is true, but then I start hitting it with more topspin so the ball is at their feet, which also very difficult to return. Unless the person is a very good volleyer, I am going to attack him.

Seriously I've never faced a returner who was so good where hitting the ball to a semi-competent net man is a better shot than hitting it away from them. And when I say semi-competent, I'm talking about someone that understands proper volley technique and is capable of hitting both offensive and defensive volleys.

OrangePower
11-30-2009, 02:12 PM
I have played a couple of 7.0 mixed matches this season with a particular 3.5 male partner. I love the guy to death. He encourages me to come in, is uniformly positive, understands doubles, is a good player, appreciates my paltry contributions. We have won more matches than we have lost over two seasons.

One reason I like him so is that he helps take care of my serve. I have played with partners who check out when I am serving: Frozen with one foot in doubles alley, or starting every point too far back to poach on my serve. I have also played with partners with poor net games who cost me more points than they earn on my serve. Not this guy, though. He fakes and tries to be a nuisance and has good hands.

Until recently.

In our last two matches when I am serving to the male opponent (one against a 3.5 guy who got moved up to 4.0, the other against a 4.0 guy who got moved up to 4.5), he has started points on my serve at the baseline with me. He has simply told me early in the match that he's going to start two back and move in when the opportunity arises.

This really, really got to me.

I will grant you that I do not have the serve of a 4.0 man. I have a good serve for a 3.5 woman, though. My 3.5 female opponent couldn't even get most of my serves back in play. My serve this season is not much different from my serve last season, when this male partner played the net aggressively.

Having him retreat to the baseline was the kiss of death in these two most recent matches. I simply could not hold serve with him back there. The opposing guy took these gigantic cuts at the ball, unimpeded by the risk of being poached, and I couldn't do a thing. Knowing that the ball would be coming back to me at 90 mph was so unnerving that my serve actually had less on it than when I served to the female, on account of how I was shaking like a leaf and also feeling badly that my partner clearly had no confidence in me at all.

What do you make of this? Should I have done anything differently? I kind of didn't feel it was right of me to ask him to get up to the net. That's his call to make, and he obviously handled it this way because he thought my serving was poor.

I have to admit that I was quite envious of my female opponent, though. Her partner was bobbing and weaving and poaching and faking and doing whatever he could to pressure our returns -- even though her serve was *considerably* weaker than mine. When my partner cracked the ball at him or passed him, he took it in stride and kept right at it.

How normal is this? How should I handle it if it happens again? How about it, you guys who play mixed? Do you ever abandon the net completely when your female partner serves? I really want to make this partnership work because I do like this guy and think we do pretty well together.

Have you asked him why? It would be one thing if you were playing with a new partner who has a preference for staying back. But you've played with this guy before, and this is a change of strategy for him. So maybe there is a reason behind it. Maybe he has lost confidence in your serve... or maybe it has nothing to do with you at all - for example, maybe he is having eyesight problems and isn't seeing the ball well at the net any more. The only way to know is to ask him...

gameboy
11-30-2009, 02:18 PM
Seriously I've never faced a returner who was so good where hitting the ball to a semi-competent net man is a better shot than hitting it away from them. And when I say semi-competent, I'm talking about someone that understands proper volley technique and is capable of hitting both offensive and defensive volleys.

At 3.5, you are going to see a plenty of guys where firing a 90mph return right at him is a better option...

raiden031
11-30-2009, 02:37 PM
At 3.5, you are going to see a plenty of guys where firing a 90mph return right at him is a better option...

Maybe I've never seen someone who can hit a 90mph return...

gameboy
11-30-2009, 02:42 PM
Maybe I've never seen someone who can hit a 90mph return...

They are about as rare at 3.5 as volleyers who can return them. :)

MayDay
11-30-2009, 04:14 PM
Where does he stand normally? Does he normally hug the net?
If a hard/fast return is expected, instead of being all the way at the baseline, wouldn't it be better if he just took a few steps back from where he normally stands to allow for more reaction time?

I normally try to drill the netman once or twice if he hugs the net during early game to see if he can defend it. (But then, it's not a good for anyone when someone get drilled in the balls... ...I guess I can see the reason why your partner may want to stay back if he doesn't want to risk it - it's just a game.)

Cindysphinx
11-30-2009, 06:18 PM
Yeah, I guess I shouldn't take it so personally. It really made me tighten up. I felt very defeated.

Topaz
11-30-2009, 06:23 PM
Cindy...totally unrelated...but just got an email saying that they are going to run tri-level in NOVA *again* from January to April. Coordinator said to contact your previous captain to see if the teams will stay relatively in tact...thought you'd want to know.

Cindysphinx
11-30-2009, 06:26 PM
Cindy...totally unrelated...but just got an email saying that they are going to run tri-level in NOVA *again* from January to April. Coordinator said to contact your previous captain to see if the teams will stay relatively in tact...thought you'd want to know.

Yes, I saw that. I've already replied that I'm interested. It would be fun if some of my buddies and I put a team together, but someone else would have to captain.

CrispyFritters
12-03-2009, 11:02 PM
It is stupid to stand at the baseline when your partner is serving. No matter how weak your partner's serve or how good the opponent's return, the worst case scenario is that you are unable to poach. You can just stay home in the middle of the service box and cut off some of the returns, but if you are at the baseline the returner has no pressure and can hit it wherever they want (which will always be to the weaker partner).

I don't agree with this statement. It is perfectly acceptable to stay 2 back on the serve. If the returns are really coming back at 90 mph, chances are your partner won't have much success poaching and if they are hit straight at him...he's unlikely to have time for a clean volley. Your partner essentialyl becomes an ornament. You would be in a staggered formation (which leaves big holes everywhere) and they can still pick on the server. If your partner stays back, he can at least help cover the court. You can then work your way to net together using a single well placed lobs.

JHBKLYN
12-04-2009, 12:57 AM
Having him retreat to the baseline was the kiss of death in these two most recent matches. I simply could not hold serve with him back there. The opposing guy took these gigantic cuts at the ball, unimpeded by the risk of being poached, and I couldn't do a thing. Knowing that the ball would be coming back to me at 90 mph was so unnerving that my serve actually had less on it than when I served to the female, on account of how I was shaking like a leaf and also feeling badly that my partner clearly had no confidence in me at all.

What do you make of this? Should I have done anything differently? I kind of didn't feel it was right of me to ask him to get up to the net.

If I were your partner and I see you shaking like a leaf and serving lollipops to him and he's ripping returns back, I don't think I'll be hugging the net either. If you couldn't handle a guy's 90mph return, how fun would it be to get hit by a 90mph return standing 20 feet from him. Just put yourself in his shoes, would you play the net if he was serving scared and the guy was ripping returns? I know someone that got their eye socket broken because of a hard return.

Instead of blaming your partner for not being able to return, be tough, show no fear and get those returns back. The worst thing you can do is show your partner you can't handle your opponent, you've already lost the match. I tell my mix doubles ladies that play the net to be careful because some players in this league can rip the ball back. This first year player said bring 'em on, the harder the better! She's not a great player but a good player but she is fearless and doesn't care who is on the other side. It doesn't matter how hard the balls are hit, she's going to do her best to get them back in play. Because of those traits, she hasn't lost a match this year. Those are the players you want on your team.

What you could've done was show confidence in yourself and your opponent. So your partner doesn't want to play the net when you are serving to the ripper. I'm sure he has a reason for it, one of them may be he wants to keep his eyeballs intact. While you're thinking whether you should ask him to move up to net, he's probably thinking should he ask you to serve harder to the ripper so he can go home alive tonight, or wished he had a partner that wasn't so scared and can return 90mph returns, or just tell you that he's going to play back. He went the nice guy route and told you he's playing back. That is a good teammate to have and it would be a shame to sour the relationship because you thought he was at fault for your poor on-court performance. :)

JHBKLYN
12-04-2009, 01:51 AM
It is stupid to stand at the baseline when your partner is serving. No matter how weak your partner's serve or how good the opponent's return, the worst case scenario is that you are unable to poach. You can just stay home in the middle of the service box and cut off some of the returns, but if you are at the baseline the returner has no pressure and can hit it wherever they want (which will always be to the weaker partner).

Playoff match last year. The male opponent is on the ad side. My female partner, a very good player, is serving okay but this guy can rip returns on a rope and will come at you. I play very close to the net and it was scary when the ball is landing half way in the service box and he's hitting cannons back. I have pretty good reflexes but I'm just too close to him and there's not enough time to react. I probably got hit at least once and I recalled getting out of the way a few times because his returns were being returned with nothing on it and he's slamming overheads. I move back just a bit towards the service line but he's still teeing off on her serves and shots he is sending my way, I'm not getting anything on them because I'm still to close to him. They break my partner twice and we lost the set 6-3.

2nd set, same thing was happening and we're down 3-1 or something. I finally said I'm going to stay back on the baseline when she is serving to him. My thinking is that this will limit his returns to me because with more room between him and I, he can't just blast his shots at me, and I can return whatever he hits. This also clears the way for my partner to get a better view and be more prepared to return his returns. By me playing the net, she had to cover both the returns and anything that gets past me. With me playing back, she only has to concentrate on half the court and has a clearer vision of how the ball is coming back.

The tide starts to turn. As I recall, because of all the space he has in front of him, he starts over-hitting and some are going out. His returns are being returned back by my partner with pace. Whatever he is hitting at me, I have more time to react and also returning them with pace. Next thing you know, we're making a comeback and finally tied things up at 5-5. Unfortunately, they went up 5-6 and broke our serve to win 7-5.

So from experience, it is not stupid to play back when your partner is serving against real strong returners. One may think if both are at the baseline, the returner has no pressure and can hit it wherever they want. The opposite can be true, there's so much room that the returner can't decide where to hit and may over hit. Also, my partner and I are not weak players and if given time, can return anything. By us staying back, we can concentate on the ball coming back and that extra milli-second enables us to blast it back at them and turn defense into offense.

Cindysphinx
12-04-2009, 03:59 AM
Fellas, I appreciate your insight. I can do many things, but one of them is not thinking like a 4.0 guy thinks in a mixed match. Thanks!!

AndrewD
12-04-2009, 05:05 AM
It is stupid to stand at the baseline when your partner is serving. No matter how weak your partner's serve or how good the opponent's return, the worst case scenario is that you are unable to poach. You can just stay home in the middle of the service box and cut off some of the returns, but if you are at the baseline the returner has no pressure and can hit it wherever they want (which will always be to the weaker partner).

Really?

The worst case scenario is that your opponent can drill the ball at you in a spot that won't let you hit a decent volley. Instead of needing to hit with some margin (spin) they can just go flat.
A strong returner is going to be able to tag you 7 out of 10 times when they've got a short, weak serve to deal with. If they don't tag you then can hit it down your line or flip it over your head. Whatever they chose, they've taken you out of the point and you're doing absolutely no good to your team.

If you stay at the baseline they might be able to take the net position but they'll need to hit their approach with some margin for error. Instead of taking you out of the point you remain far more of a factor.

If they hit to the weaker partner and it's not you, they'll have to go cross-court. THAT is what you want. You've taken away the easy down-the-line shot or tag. You're forcing them to play the point instead of just ending it with an easy winner or placement.

It's stupid to NOT try two back when one has an extremely weak serve. It mightn't be ideal but it can be very workable. Doubles is a team game, no point in letting one person's ego dictate things.

raiden031
12-04-2009, 06:30 AM
Really?

The worst case scenario is that your opponent can drill the ball at you in a spot that won't let you hit a decent volley. Instead of needing to hit with some margin (spin) they can just go flat.
A strong returner is going to be able to tag you 7 out of 10 times when they've got a short, weak serve to deal with. If they don't tag you then can hit it down your line or flip it over your head. Whatever they chose, they've taken you out of the point and you're doing absolutely no good to your team.

If you stay at the baseline they might be able to take the net position but they'll need to hit their approach with some margin for error. Instead of taking you out of the point you remain far more of a factor.

If they hit to the weaker partner and it's not you, they'll have to go cross-court. THAT is what you want. You've taken away the easy down-the-line shot or tag. You're forcing them to play the point instead of just ending it with an easy winner or placement.

It's stupid to NOT try two back when one has an extremely weak serve. It mightn't be ideal but it can be very workable. Doubles is a team game, no point in letting one person's ego dictate things.

I was in the exact situation described in this thread last night playing some mixed doubles. Male opponent was a 4.0 who can really rip the ball on the returns, and my partner is about 3.5 woman who hits weak serves that sit up right in his wheelhouse. I naturally abandoned any plans to play the net offensively. I stood probably 2 feet inside the service line. He actually hit a fair number of shots at me, and a couple times he netted them, and a couple of them I hit defensive volleys that kept the point going, and I botched a couple volleys as well.

Had I been at the baseline, he would've not attempted any lower-percentage DTL returns because its completely unecessary to do so. He would've blasted every return cross-court and hit very few errors because there's no net presence to pressure him.

I've played against a few mixed pairs who have resorted to 2-back while serving to me, and it always gives me a feeling of relief.

Cindysphinx
12-04-2009, 08:05 AM
If they hit to the weaker partner and it's not you, they'll have to go cross-court. THAT is what you want. You've taken away the easy down-the-line shot or tag. You're forcing them to play the point instead of just ending it with an easy winner or placement.

This I don't entirely agree with.

The easy shot isn't the DTL shot or tag. The 4.0 guy is capable of getting some balls back, and the returner can miss long or into the net.

The easy shot is ripping the ball crosscourt, undistracted and unimpeded by anyone at net, at a 3.5 woman who is not used to that kind of pace.

It's stupid to NOT try two back when one has an extremely weak serve. It mightn't be ideal but it can be very workable. Doubles is a team game, no point in letting one person's ego dictate things.

Well, just to defend myself a little . . .

I don't have an "extremely weak serve." Undoubtedly in men's 4.0 play it would be considered weak. For ladies 3.5, it is on the high end.

What I think also has to be considered is that any guy who signs up for 7.0 mixed ought to know exactly what he is getting: His partner is going to be serving to a dude, and her serve will be something that a 4.0 guy will consider weak. It doesn't seem fair for the guys who *knowingly* signed up for this to feel they are justified in retreating to the baseline. I think Raiden does make a good point. Why play mixed 7.0 if you are afraid of what happens when your partner serves?

As I think back on all of the matches I have played in the last two years, this is the first 4.0/3.0 pair we have faced. TIt was quite an experience for both of us. I understand why my partner did what he did, and if we were to remain partners, we'd have to figure something else out. Again, let me underscore I don't mean to criticize him or blame him. I mostly just wanted to understand better.

raiden031
12-04-2009, 08:16 AM
It doesn't seem fair for the guys who *knowingly* signed up for this to feel they are justified in retreating to the baseline.

While I agree with you that its not a good solution for the male to retreat to the baseline, I don't think he should be obliged to. I mean everyone should play to whatever strategy they are comfortable with. I definitely did not feel comfortable last night when the 4.0 guy was returning, but I felt it was better to have a net presence then to just abandon it altogether. Thats just my preference though.

Cindysphinx
12-04-2009, 08:36 AM
While I agree with you that its not a good solution for the male to retreat to the baseline, I don't think he should be obliged to. I mean everyone should play to whatever strategy they are comfortable with. I definitely did not feel comfortable last night when the 4.0 guy was returning, but I felt it was better to have a net presence then to just abandon it altogether. Thats just my preference though.

Fair enough. The guy doesn't have to stay at net just because he signed on for 7.0. That's reasonable.

gameboy
12-04-2009, 10:10 AM
The tide starts to turn. As I recall, because of all the space he has in front of him, he starts over-hitting and some are going out.

I think this is a pretty important fact to point out. It is not a given that you will rip a easy serve and still have it go in.

If I get an easy serve and there is a netman close, I am going to rip it right at him flat and keep it between the shoulder and the net. I am not quite worried about keeping the ball in, I actually want the netman to touch it (and most likely frame it or hit it into the net), and if it is below the shoulders, he will. In those cases, I can REALLY blast it.

When the netman stays back, I can't just blast flat anymore, I have to think more about keeping it in, but still hitting it hard because it is just so tempting. In those situations, you are going to see some of those returns sail long, which are some easy points for you.

It is not a bad strategy to stay back when the returner is crushing the ball.

Ripper014
12-04-2009, 10:14 AM
I've played against a few mixed pairs who have resorted to 2-back while serving to me, and it always gives me a feeling of relief.

In this case there is no pressure at all returning serves... but on a weak serve there would not be much pressure anyway.

Ripper014
12-04-2009, 10:17 AM
While I agree with you that its not a good solution for the male to retreat to the baseline, I don't think he should be obliged to. I mean everyone should play to whatever strategy they are comfortable with. I definitely did not feel comfortable last night when the 4.0 guy was returning, but I felt it was better to have a net presence then to just abandon it altogether. Thats just my preference though.

Totally agree with you... and I am not sure if I would stay at the net because I believe it is the right thing to do strategically... or if it is pride and that I won't let you back me off the net.

If I can keep you behind the service line when you hit the ball I am not concerned unless it is on my right shoulder (righty)... anywhere else I can defend myself. So like I said it would be hard to back me off the net... I am with Raiden that I would not give up my net position.

On a side note though... I did play a tourney many years back where my partner and I played a team with a weaker server... Men's Doubles... and after his second service game told his partner to move off the net before we killed him. I have never heard anyone say that before or since.... Women's, Men's or Mixed.

Tennisman912
12-04-2009, 12:39 PM
I would agree with Raiden031 and consider it to be starting out with one hand tied behind the back to have the guy back when you are serving. First, if the guy is a good returner, the high percentage shot is cross-court to the lady who isn’t used to the extra pace they are seeing. Second, it makes no difference if the person is at the net or not, the good returner will still go crosscourt over the lower part of the net to the weaker player the majority of the time. So if that net person retreats to the baseline, they are essentially never going to see a ball the rest of the point. Then the returners only job is to get a decent return cross court to the weaker player (in this case you), come in behind it and lean on you until you fold or they can put away the ball. In this scenario you better be able to lob off of a shot with pace or it will be a long day for your team. Your partner at the baseline might as well leave the court and sit down because he won’t be getting many balls from a smart player.

And the hard shot at the net man if he stays at the net is not a high percentage play for the vast majority of 3.5 and 4.0 players, unless the serve is very weak. But even then they miss this shot more than they realize by trying to over hit it and show that they are in control. This is a much harder shot for the average player as taking the solid return cross court to the weaker player. No 3.5 or 4.0 is hitting consistent 90 mph returns. Pros hit few shots other than the serve in the 90-100 range let alone the weekend warrior. I am not saying never go at the net man but the majority of the time the better approach is crosscourt IMHO.

Anytime a team concedes the net, you should be thankful they are willing to give up so much court position. Unless they are incredible lobbers, they will lose to a semi intelligent team almost every time. I believe even if the net man can’t get to many balls at the net, he is in a much better place to help the team for when they make a careless return (or overhit as they are prone to do on a weak serve) to put away. They at least have the appearance of some aggressiveness by staying up and moving some even if they don't poach much. Doubles is won at the net, not the baseline.

As always there are no complete absolutes in tennis, but I would bet on the team that gets to the net more often every time. Don’t beat yourself up for what may or may not be a reflection of your serve. But as soon as you show it is affecting you, your opponents will be quietly celebrating if they get you out of your comfort zone (especially without having to do anything). Doubles is about communication. When in doubt, ask why the change in tactics and go from there. As suggested it may be a physical problem of some kind. Don’t spend your time worrying about what you did or didn’t do wrong. Spend your time communicating with your partner and doing the best with the tools you have that day. Good tennis all

TM

AndrewD
12-04-2009, 04:09 PM
I've played against a few mixed pairs who have resorted to 2-back while serving to me, and it always gives me a feeling of relief.

And I've felt the same way. However, you need to be sensible about where your strengths and weaknesses are. Look at the pro level and you'll see there are quite a number of teams who play two back. Typically that's in the women's game but it also happens with the men. They know their serve and/or volleys aren't strong but their groundstrokes are. So they're willing to put their groundstrokes up against your net play. We're at a vastly different level to them but the thinking is the same. You've got to go with what gives you the biggest chance of winning, even if it means playing a non-traditional style.

It's certainly not the way I was taught to play doubles BUT it can work for some people. My contention is that, not trying it - even if it's just for a brief period- is ridiculous. The strange thing is that you read about people at quite low levels wanting to try things like Australian but they wouldn't consider two back. I don't get that.

Anyway, here's an article by Stan Smith running through the benefits of playing two back. He's talking about a certain situation but the thinking can be applied to an entire match.

http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/strategy/strategy.aspx?id=181

tom10s
12-04-2009, 04:17 PM
Until recently.

In our last two matches when I am serving to the male opponent (one against a 3.5 guy who got moved up to 4.0, the other against a 4.0 guy who got moved up to 4.5), he has started points on my serve at the baseline with me. He has simply told me early in the match that he's going to start two back and move in when the opportunity arises.



Perhaps the skill level of male opponents was higher than usual(4.0 and 4.5 you say), prompting your partner to appropriately be more reticent to play the net? Sounds entirely reasonable to play back when returner is quite capable of pelting you at will because of ineffective serve.

In a tournament this summer my partner, who is quite capable of bombing in 100+ mph 1st serves, got tight and was throwing in 50mph sitters that were getting me killed at the net. I confronted him and said "either you hit some real serves or I'm going to have to play back...let it rip". He started hitting effective 1st serves and we won easily. Note: I still played back on 2nd serves.

tom10s
12-04-2009, 04:38 PM
I don't have an "extremely weak serve." Undoubtedly in men's 4.0 play it would be considered weak. For ladies 3.5, it is on the high end.

What I think also has to be considered is that any guy who signs up for 7.0 mixed ought to know exactly what he is getting: His partner is going to be serving to a dude, and her serve will be something that a 4.0 guy will consider weak. It doesn't seem fair for the guys who *knowingly* signed up for this to feel they are justified in retreating to the baseline. I think Raiden does make a good point. Why play mixed 7.0 if you are afraid of what happens when your partner serves?



Huh? Cindy in your OP you said "my serve actually had less on it than when I served to the female". Sounds like a sub par serve by your own personal standards.

How would you feel if your mixed doubles partner came in here and complained that any woman "who *knowingly* signed up" should be able to handle a 4.0 male's return of serve......"why play 7.0 mixed if you are afraid of what happens when" *you* serve to a 4.0 male....

He probably signed up for the same reasons you did: fun, exercise, social,...

AndrewD
12-04-2009, 05:19 PM
This I don't entirely agree with.

The easy shot isn't the DTL shot or tag. The 4.0 guy is capable of getting some balls back, and the returner can miss long or into the net.

If you're playing someone with an exceptionally good return/ groundstrokes - which is what we were talking about- tagging the net man and/or making the down-the-line IS an easy shot that they'll make 9/10 times. If they can't do it that regularly off a weak serve then they don't have really good returns and groundstrokes.

Back in the day when we hit much flatter and with grips closer to Continental and Eastern it WAS significantly harder to consistently (the key word) hit that down-the-line shot and the percentages were significantly lower. However, with semi-western grips, lighter racquets, people hitting with heavier spin and poly strings a great amount of that risk has been diminished.

Cindysphinx
12-04-2009, 05:42 PM
Huh? Cindy in your OP you said "my serve actually had less on it than when I served to the female". Sounds like a sub par serve by your own personal standards.

Yes, I served slower to the guy than the gal. I wouldn't say my serves were "extremely weak" that night for a 3.5 woman.

How would you feel if your mixed doubles partner came in here and complained that any woman "who *knowingly* signed up" should be able to handle a 4.0 male's return of serve......"why play 7.0 mixed if you are afraid of what happens when" *you* serve to a 4.0 male....

He probably signed up for the same reasons you did: fun, exercise, social,...

The difference is I didn't bail. I did what you are supposed to do when a 4.5 guy is firing at you: Try to hit the ball. I was sadly quite unsuccessful, but I did try. Now, had I waved my first serve in and then made no move to hit the reply, that would be bailing.

raiden031
12-05-2009, 10:29 AM
Anyway, here's an article by Stan Smith running through the benefits of playing two back. He's talking about a certain situation but the thinking can be applied to an entire match.

http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/strategy/strategy.aspx?id=181

Its perfectly fine and I encourage returning teams to play two-back against an aggressive serving team. That is completely different then what the serving team should do.

AndrewD
12-05-2009, 02:00 PM
Its perfectly fine and I encourage returning teams to play two-back against an aggressive serving team.

I thought you were a lowly club hacker like the rest of us.

raiden031
12-06-2009, 04:19 AM
I thought you were a lowly club hacker like the rest of us.

I am, but if you are getting poached on the returns too much, then playing 2-back takes away some of the effectiveness of the poaches so you have a chance to stay in the point.

sphinx780
12-07-2009, 11:55 AM
I am, but if you are getting poached on the returns too much, then playing 2-back takes away some of the effectiveness of the poaches so you have a chance to stay in the point.

In the right situation, I completely agree with the use of this tactic. Another option when getting poached often is the return lob so you can take control of net over the opponents. It all depends on the players skill sets as far as what strategies will be most effective.

equinox
12-16-2009, 08:40 AM
Couple of options are available.
1. fix your serve
Keep the ball skidding low and you'll get a chance at hitting the next ball. Most 3.5 arn't going to be successful % wise teeing off on a dtl knee to hip height ball skidding with slice. depth is help too.

2. Let him cover the 3/4 of baseline area.
He wants to play singles so let him do so, after every return and serve get the hell off the court and take a seat like a good bench warmer.

3. shut the hell up
You've said or given off a negative vibe concerning his unsuccessful attempts at poaching or being passed dtl to often.
Because you're going to setup an easy putaway smash. He doesn't have a choice about poaching. Better to be active and lose the pt on his racquet.

4. Suicide serve and volley
Come to the net yourself and embarrass him into staying up there too.

5. Play to your strengths
Have him bravely up front on the around the serviceT covering the males CC return. Force the male to peg your partner CC or hit to your stronger shot dtl. Stand close to the baseT and quickly cover that line, then lob CC over the ops female.
Point rally pattern then becomes more predictable.

Ultimately to be successful in mixed the male must assert his domination over the opposing female and take control of the match.
Unfortunately against a stronger op man and weak female partner you're forced to take risk poaching like mad.
Failure to do so means the point is already lost and quite likely females confidence will be gone as shown by your replys cindy.
Pretty funny seeing a guy tee off on a weak female serve and pin her back and finish off the pathetic lob reply with a smash through the net guys head. dissing out and being on the receiving end is part of mixed and it's never the guys fault.

Cindysphinx
12-16-2009, 10:18 AM
Come on. Let's be mature here. Are you really going to wander the board and pick fights with me? Sheez.

equinox
12-16-2009, 06:48 PM
Wow no need to get defensive girl. Just offering some friendly advice. If you stop posting about the abomination that is mixed dlbs and i'll stop too.

Say no to Olympic mixed dlbs!

jserve
12-16-2009, 09:22 PM
One of my mixed partners has a pretty weak serve so it can be tough on us to hold her service games. The key for us is to put added pressure on the returners, and that type of pressure is only going to come from an aggressive net player. If I were to sit passively on my side of the court or back at the baseline, the returners would simply get into a cross-court return groove and ignore me all together.

Its not the servers job to win their service games alone.

OrangePower
12-16-2009, 09:56 PM
Fellas, I appreciate your insight. I can do many things, but one of them is not thinking like a 4.0 guy thinks in a mixed match. Thanks!!

So, given that... did you ever actually ask the male partner from your OP why he started staying back on your serve?

I mean, given your lack of mind-reading capability, seems to me that the only way to get the definitive answer to your original question is to ask the guy. Maybe he has a valid reason that no one here has thought of or brought up.

equinox
12-17-2009, 03:32 AM
So, given that... did you ever actually ask the male partner from your OP why he started staying back on your serve?

I mean, given your lack of mind-reading capability, seems to me that the only way to get the definitive answer to your original question is to ask the guy. Maybe he has a valid reason that no one here has thought of or brought up.

She didn't communicate with her partner because if he had the guts to tell her the truth they wouldn't be playing together again,

Cindysphinx
12-17-2009, 09:00 AM
So, given that... did you ever actually ask the male partner from your OP why he started staying back on your serve?

I mean, given your lack of mind-reading capability, seems to me that the only way to get the definitive answer to your original question is to ask the guy. Maybe he has a valid reason that no one here has thought of or brought up.

No, I haven't seen him since that match. We will likely be on the team again next season, but his bump means we will not partner. Too bad.

Which means I will have a new partner come January.

I haven't dated in decades, but the best way I can describe it is that it feels the way it would feel to break up with your guy and then find yourself back on the market thinking, "You know, I could probably do a lot worse!" :)

Cindysphinx
12-17-2009, 09:02 AM
She didn't communicate with her partner because if he had the guts to tell her the truth they wouldn't be playing together again,

Catty much? :)

http://blogs.sundaymercury.net/keogh-the-cat/angry%2Bcat.jpg

Steady Eddy
12-17-2009, 09:36 AM
It's bad when your partner goes to the baseline on your serve. The only thing worse is when they retreat to the clubhouse.

eagle
12-17-2009, 09:45 AM
Hope this thread doesn't deteriorate any more than it already has.

Anyway, in playing dubs I normally play at net. Positioning varies to give the opponents different looks along with a few fakes here and there. I watch a lot of Bryan brothers matches and tips.

The only time I move back near but not completely at the baseline is when the returner is really strong and hits the balls way too fast for me to intercept. Once he returns the ball, I sprint up and try to take charge of the net again. Sorry, old school habits I guess.

Cindy, it's probably best for you to simply ask your partner. That would get you the real answer why he changed his strategy as opposed to posting here and getting a barrage of suggestions based on assumptions only from your side of the story.

r,
eagle

Ripper014
12-17-2009, 11:22 AM
Hope this thread doesn't deteriorate any more than it already has.

Anyway, in playing dubs I normally play at net. Positioning varies to give the opponents different looks along with a few fakes here and there. I watch a lot of Bryan brothers matches and tips.

The only time I move back near but not completely at the baseline is when the returner is really strong and hits the balls way too fast for me to intercept. Once he returns the ball, I sprint up and try to take charge of the net again. Sorry, old school habits I guess.

Cindy, it's probably best for you to simply ask your partner. That would get you the real answer why he changed his strategy as opposed to posting here and getting a barrage of suggestions based on assumptions only from your side of the story.

r,
eagle



I don't know if you would get the truth, afterall how do you tell your partner that your serve is not very good and that I think I will stand back here where I feel safe.

I know for me I have never been moved back off the net, if my partner has a weak serve I just remind myself even more that every ball may be coming at me. But then netplay is one of the better parts of my game.

And don't women read minds fairly well...? I know mine always tells me what I want. :shock:

tfm1973
12-17-2009, 11:51 AM
just a few thoughts.

i agree that in most doubles, the team at net most often is the team that wins. but in cindy's example of her partner staying at the baseline while she's serving -- i don't really see anything wrong with it. he's obviously back there for a reason. if he's not comfortable at net, then he's not going to be very effective. maybe he's normally a pretty good volleyer but not when facing 90mph returns (would wager pretty good money that it's not 90mph - likely 20 mph slower). and for every partner who dances up at net and poaches and makes himself a nuisance all in the hopes of helping the server hold serve -- there are others who might not have that ability or game or quite frankly desire to dance around the net like an idiot.

as a server, i do expect and want help from my partner in holding serve. on first serves i expect him/her to put away any weak returns. on second serves i expect them to move to a more neutral position in the service box and not cough up weak volleys if they get a ball blasted to them. on the flip side, i know as a server in doubles i have an obligation to not get my partner killed by either hitting a deep serve and/or one to their backhand.

it's doubles. there's a ton of different ways to skin a cat. i've played and won with partners who camp out at the baseline. and i've lost to doubles teams who camp out at the baseline. definitely not the norm, but it's doable.