PDA

View Full Version : Saw Something New In 7.5 Mixed


Cindysphinx
08-17-2010, 08:36 PM
I played a fun and challenging match tonight. And I saw something I had never experienced before. It's definitely something for you guys who play mixed to consider.

I'm 3.5; partner is a solid 4.0. Opposing 4.0 male was really good with his placement and slices and spins and volleys. He was also crazy fast around the court. His partner hits her groundies a ton and otherwise parks herself on the net and lets her partner take care of everything else. After the warm-up, we knew that trying to beat him was pointless but we might get somewhere with her.

So the guy lines up to serve to me in the deuce court, and he did something unusual. He served from very close to the center T. Hmmm. That's unusual. Most doubles players line up wide, at least halfway between hash and sideline.

As the match went on, I decided that that his service positioning -- normally a position you see from folks who aren't very experienced in doubles or from singles players -- was actually very smart.

He could serve hard up the middle to my BH. If I played a good shot back, it was likely to his FH. That's a nice match-up for him.

He could serve out wide to my FH. I could take it crosscourt, but that's fine by him.

What surprised me was that he also took away my FH DTL drive from that position. I swear, I ripped a FH up the line past the lady, a shot that is a stone cold winner 100 times out of 100; this guy reached all but one of them. He didn't necessarily win the point because he had to hit a defensive shot, but it was enough to make me have to hit the thing very aggressively or not at all. Had he been serving from a normal doubles position, he couldn't have tracked those drives down.

The only risk he took by serving from the middle like that was that I might crush a FH crosscourt so hard he couldn't reach it. In my dreams. He was plenty fast to reach any crosscourt ball I could hit.

How come more of you dudes playing mixed don't line up this way? I might have to have a talk with my 4.0 partner about this. He was having some difficulty reaching the woman's BH with his serve, but he positions very wide when he serves. Maybe he would have done better to mimic the other guys positioning.

Anybody of you fellas ever try this?

Cindysphinx
08-17-2010, 08:40 PM
Oh, and I should mention . . .

My partner and I lost, but just barely. 3-6, 6-4, 0-1 (4-10). That's OK. This male opponent is 10-0 in 7.0 mixed and is on his way to Nationals. His run includes three wins at Sectionals, so he clearly knows a thing or two about how to win at mixed doubles.

Figjam
08-17-2010, 09:20 PM
Why would I stand wide??? Then I cant ace them down the line as usual

spaceman_spiff
08-18-2010, 12:40 AM
Anybody of you fellas ever try this?

This actually applies to all doubles.

Why on earth do people stand so far wide on serve? From out wide, your only option is a wide serve, which gets predictable and opens up the angles for your opponent to go DTL or sharp crosscourt. From out wide, if you do try to serve down the middle, the angles mean that anything not landing in the very corner of the box will either land out (if it lands short) or go right to your opponent, so your margin for error is really small.

But, if you stand only a touch wider than you would in singles, you get all sorts of serving angles to work with, most importantly the DTM serve.

There's a reason for the saying "down the middle solves the riddle" in doubles. Inside-out returns, especially stretching with the backhand, are much harder to time right, leading to many more mistakes/weak shots from your opponents. Also, DTM serves cut down the angles your opponents have to work with: going DTL past the net man/woman isn't really an option, and the angles crosscourt aren't good enough for easy winners.

Oh, and if you and your partner decide to pull a switch, it's easier for you to get across the court than if you were serving from out wide.

travlerajm
08-18-2010, 12:55 AM
I played several seasons of 8.0 doubles, going almost undefeated.

I'm a speedy 4.5+ player. My partner was a weak 3.5 in her late 50's with not much mobility, but she could block balls ok at the net.

I would generally position my partner 3 feet from the net, near the doubles alley, making it very difficult for my opponents to "find" her.

I would always make sure to play on the left side of the court - this makes it easy for me to cover lobs on either side of the court; it's easy to roll to my right behind my partner for a slam when the opponent tries to lob the deuce court.

When I served in the deuce court, I would always use the Aussie formation to take away the lob return.

polski
08-18-2010, 02:35 AM
I do this, but with less risk. I stand about halfway between the middle and singles sideline when serving the duece court. I don't see the point of giving up that much room to chase any wide returns. I'm fast, but that doesn't mean I want to do wind sprints the entire match.

Going middle with serves in doubles usually eliminates DTL returns & brings the poach into play if it is directed at the returners weak side. If I go middle, I usually communicate to my partner to give up the alley & expect something crosscourt to jump on. If our opponents hit inside-in returns down the alley, they deserve to win.

FloridaAG
08-18-2010, 04:39 AM
I love when people serve from near center against me when playing dubs. Return to corner, server scrambles and the upper hand in the point is mine.

larry10s
08-18-2010, 06:49 AM
starting your serve closer to the middle like in singles works well for the up the t serve and like everyone said decreases angle, inhibits dtl return, gets the net man involved. it works as long as the returner cant hit a sharp angled return off the serve.
when the returner is killing you with sharp angle returns moving wide is sometimes an answer.
at the extreme if you stand in the doubles alley to serve you can serve extremely wide. if the returner does not shift his return location with your new starting place you will have many free points.
once he shifts and you go "up the middle" ie as much to the middle as you can get from your angle the returner will be contacting the ball from around where a body serve would be if you were standing more to the middle
HOWEVER when he tries to hit an angled return from there you are in the middle of his "up the middle " and "wide" targets because of where you the server is starting from
hope this makes sence
p.s. i usually serve from more to the middle like in singles so i can more easily go straight up the middle until i start getting beat with the angled returns

spot
08-18-2010, 07:00 AM
This is how I play. I'm a huge believer in attacking people's backhands. So against righties on the Ad side I set up way wide and on the Deuce side I set up in the middle. SO I'll just hit backhands over and over making people try and get the ball past the net player and attack off the backhand side. If they show that they can attack that shot only then will I go and start mixing it up. But yeah- on the deuce side lining up in the middle and hitting up the T makes it VERY difficult for someone to hit a sharply angled inside out backhand to take advantage of my positioning.

Of course the weakness is setting up there and trying to hit the ball wide- that opens up a ton of space for a crosscourt forehand.

Cindysphinx
08-18-2010, 08:04 AM
Yes, Spot, I agree.

One problem with setting up near the T is that your partner is in your way unless she is camped way wide.

BTW, I understand the basic arguments on why you don't want to serve out wide, but I seem to be having a lot of success violating that rule with reckless abandon.

Last night, for instance. The lady played deuce. She was not a great mover. So I could slice it wide, which made her move and sometimes put the side curtain into the mix if I hit a good one. If she went up the alley, my 4.0 partner was there. If she returned crosscourt, I was on my way in and had an easy crosscourt FH volley, which I tried to aim into the space she had vacated. Her partner didn't poach because he had to protect the line, and it is harder for him to poach an approach volley than a groundie from deep in the court.

Then for the 4.0 guy, I had to pick my poison because serving to 4.0 guys can get ugly in a hurry. Did I want to serve to his FH and have him *slam* the ball to my BH? Or did I want to serve to his BH and deal with his slice drop shot returns? I did much, much better serving to his BH and dealing with the drop shot and slices.

So that's what I did.

spaceman_spiff
08-18-2010, 08:30 AM
Yes, Spot, I agree.

One problem with setting up near the T is that your partner is in your way unless she is camped way wide.

BTW, I understand the basic arguments on why you don't want to serve out wide, but I seem to be having a lot of success violating that rule with reckless abandon.

Last night, for instance. The lady played deuce. She was not a great mover. So I could slice it wide, which made her move and sometimes put the side curtain into the mix if I hit a good one. If she went up the alley, my 4.0 partner was there. If she returned crosscourt, I was on my way in and had an easy crosscourt FH volley, which I tried to aim into the space she had vacated. Her partner didn't poach because he had to protect the line, and it is harder for him to poach an approach volley than a groundie from deep in the court.

Then for the 4.0 guy, I had to pick my poison because serving to 4.0 guys can get ugly in a hurry. Did I want to serve to his FH and have him *slam* the ball to my BH? Or did I want to serve to his BH and deal with his slice drop shot returns? I did much, much better serving to his BH and dealing with the drop shot and slices.

So that's what I did.

There's nothing wrong with serving out wide if you can exploit a weakness. But, that doesn't mean you should stand out wide to serve.

If you stand wide, you only have one option, which is the wide serve. Unless your opponent is not terribly bright, he/she should immediately spot this and move over a few steps and wait for the wide serve. Down-the-middle serves won't be a threat, because the angle just isn't there for them to be hit well. This is a killer when facing a deuce-side player with a killer forehand or lefty/strong backhand on the ad side. Your only option goes right to their strengths.

Now, if you stand in a reasonable area (just a little wider than serving in singles), the wide serve is more effective because, from that position, the DTM serve is a viable threat. The returner can't camp out wide without giving you a massive hole to serve to in the middle. As long as you throw in the odd DTM serve to keep your opponent honest, you can use the wide serve all day long (if that's your opponents' weakness).

It's the threat of a variety of serves that makes standing closer to a singles area so effective. It prevents your opponent from cheating over to one side to protect a weakness without leaving a gigantic hole on the other side.

Cindysphinx
08-18-2010, 08:43 AM
^Oh, I agree. I serve from the same spot every time: Midway from hash to sideline. If I feel I need to be ready for a certain type of reply, I can just move that direction after the serve.

I have never thought it wise to serve from way over in the alley like some people do, especially in the deuce court. A moonball over the BH of the net player is too much of a threat.

skiracer55
08-18-2010, 10:13 AM
I played a fun and challenging match tonight. And I saw something I had never experienced before. It's definitely something for you guys who play mixed to consider.

I'm 3.5; partner is a solid 4.0. Opposing 4.0 male was really good with his placement and slices and spins and volleys. He was also crazy fast around the court. His partner hits her groundies a ton and otherwise parks herself on the net and lets her partner take care of everything else. After the warm-up, we knew that trying to beat him was pointless but we might get somewhere with her.

So the guy lines up to serve to me in the deuce court, and he did something unusual. He served from very close to the center T. Hmmm. That's unusual. Most doubles players line up wide, at least halfway between hash and sideline.

As the match went on, I decided that that his service positioning -- normally a position you see from folks who aren't very experienced in doubles or from singles players -- was actually very smart.

He could serve hard up the middle to my BH. If I played a good shot back, it was likely to his FH. That's a nice match-up for him.

He could serve out wide to my FH. I could take it crosscourt, but that's fine by him.

What surprised me was that he also took away my FH DTL drive from that position. I swear, I ripped a FH up the line past the lady, a shot that is a stone cold winner 100 times out of 100; this guy reached all but one of them. He didn't necessarily win the point because he had to hit a defensive shot, but it was enough to make me have to hit the thing very aggressively or not at all. Had he been serving from a normal doubles position, he couldn't have tracked those drives down.

The only risk he took by serving from the middle like that was that I might crush a FH crosscourt so hard he couldn't reach it. In my dreams. He was plenty fast to reach any crosscourt ball I could hit.

How come more of you dudes playing mixed don't line up this way? I might have to have a talk with my 4.0 partner about this. He was having some difficulty reaching the woman's BH with his serve, but he positions very wide when he serves. Maybe he would have done better to mimic the other guys positioning.

Anybody of you fellas ever try this?

...and if you notice, a lot of the best ATP doubles teams do this, where the Bryans are a great example. Standing out wide to serve to the deuce court is really contraindicated. Everybody thinks "Well, I can get a great angle out wide" but the facts are, as you've discovered, that you can get all the angle you need by serving from near the hash mark. On the other hand, if you serve out wide and the returner gets to it, he or she can almost hit behind the net person. And if you're serving from out wide and you go for the T, it won't go through the court, it'll tail back toward the returner.

So do what the Bryans do. Start the point by serving through the court, then move in to the net where you can get an angle much more easily...

spot
08-18-2010, 10:36 AM
Serving wide is fine as long as the person doesn't have time to get to hit and hit even more angle back crosscourt. If you can make them hit defensive by going wide then by all means do so- you should be setting your partner up all day or at least giving yourself good approach shots.

To me I'd rather just keep going up the middle and try and make my opponents try and hit a tough inside out backhand to exploit the court that I leave open because of my positioning. (keeping in mind that I cover this with my forehand) Conversely on the Ad side I serve wide all the time- I am giving up the sharply angled crosscourt backhand which in my experience is a very low percentage return.

sruckauf
08-18-2010, 11:15 AM
Good post Cindy. I do this all the time. I actually vary rarely serve from close to the doubles alley, since it gives the returner such a nice view of DTL. I try to do as much as I can to help my net partner out, and I think the farther towards the doubles alley you serve, it puts them in a more difficult position to decide to stay or poach.

Plus.. some of the better mixed teams I've played are very good at throwing up lob returns when faced with a wide-angled serve coming at them.

Big fan of serving from the T or a few feet from it.

cys19
08-19-2010, 07:02 PM
I played several seasons of 8.0 doubles, going almost undefeated.

I'm a speedy 4.5+ player. My partner was a weak 3.5 in her late 50's with not much mobility, but she could block balls ok at the net.

I would generally position my partner 3 feet from the net, near the doubles alley, making it very difficult for my opponents to "find" her.

I would always make sure to play on the left side of the court - this makes it easy for me to cover lobs on either side of the court; it's easy to roll to my right behind my partner for a slam when the opponent tries to lob the deuce court.

When I served in the deuce court, I would always use the Aussie formation to take away the lob return.

travlerajm,

What was your conversion formula from point system to inches in regards to balance point? I remember it including the length of the racquet, which I need since I have an XL.

Thanks!

NLBwell
08-19-2010, 08:39 PM
Yes, Spot, I agree.

One problem with setting up near the T is that your partner is in your way unless she is camped way wide.



No, you serve down the middle and your partner moves toward the MIDDLE of the court. The returner has to hit it to the netman or hit a sharp angle with their backhand from the middle of the court to the short corner (or lob). In a fun match, I will line up to serve at the center stripe, position my partner at the center line (he ducks down) and actually TELL the opponents exactly where I am going to serve. As long as you have directional control of the serve and your partner is good at the net, there isn't much the opponents can do except a low-percentage angle (or a lob).

Cindysphinx
08-20-2010, 07:59 AM
^What I mean is that one advantage of serving from a wide position is that you are less likely to hit your partner. If you serve from a middle position and your partner lines up in the middle of the box, you can hit them. They can bend down, but you can still hit them with an errant serve.

I have had partners who serve from the middle tell me to stand near the alley so I won't get it. Not good.

NLBwell
08-20-2010, 09:00 AM
Keep your head down and butt up!

Jim A
08-22-2010, 11:46 AM
I move around quite a bit as to where I stand for my serve, but even in doubles I'll be somewhat close to the center when serving. It allows me to toss out front for down the middle a little more even for the body and slightly behind to try and hit that short sideline from the deuce and either wide or middle from the ad

For me at my level anyway the wider a person stands the easier it is to just "square up" with their body and be able to return serve..if a 3.5 can consistently bang it wide all night ..then congrats..but more often than not I'm going to get a good look at a 2nd serve more than 50% of the time

LuckyR
08-24-2010, 10:17 AM
I think that in mixed, it is very reasonable if you have the wheels and your partner is likely to get passed DTL for the reason that Cindy mentioned. However, for regular doubles (men's) I would get killed with sharp angles to my alley if I tried serving from the T.

spot
08-24-2010, 12:07 PM
luckyr- from the deuce court if you serve down the middle how many guys do you know that can crank that inside out backhand with a sharp enough angle to make you pay? thats a TOUGH shot- I'm thrilled to give that shot to my opponents.

Cindysphinx
08-24-2010, 12:14 PM
One issue with standing near the T to serve (in a normal doubles situation) is that it is easier for me to run around my BH. I line up more toward the T also, knowing the server can't hit the wide angle serve easily from there. Then it is only a step or two to hit my FH.

In contrast, if the server stands more wide (halfway between hash and side-line), my life is more difficult. Because of the incoming angle of the serve to my BH and the fact that I must start from a wider position to guard against the ace out wide, I have farther to go to run around my BH.

I love the geometry of all of this when I'm serving. If I stand wide, I can hit the ace out wide or spin the serve to the BH. In the latter case, the returner will struggle to hit that inside out BH or run around their BH. Trouble for them, good times for me.

LuckyR
08-24-2010, 01:22 PM
luckyr- from the deuce court if you serve down the middle how many guys do you know that can crank that inside out backhand with a sharp enough angle to make you pay? thats a TOUGH shot- I'm thrilled to give that shot to my opponents.

Well, unless you hit 100% of your serves up the T (in which case any serious opponent will be in a position to run around their BH on such a shot), you are going to hit some of your serves not up the T to keep them honest. I am not willing to give away that percentage of serves to shots to my alley (which my competition can pull off a high percentage of the time).

spaceman_spiff
08-25-2010, 01:22 AM
One issue with standing near the T to serve (in a normal doubles situation) is that it is easier for me to run around my BH. I line up more toward the T also, knowing the server can't hit the wide angle serve easily from there. Then it is only a step or two to hit my FH.

In contrast, if the server stands more wide (halfway between hash and side-line), my life is more difficult. Because of the incoming angle of the serve to my BH and the fact that I must start from a wider position to guard against the ace out wide, I have farther to go to run around my BH.

I love the geometry of all of this when I'm serving. If I stand wide, I can hit the ace out wide or spin the serve to the BH. In the latter case, the returner will struggle to hit that inside out BH or run around their BH. Trouble for them, good times for me.

The problem with standing wide comes in when facing someone with a decent backhand. The wider you stand, the fewer angles you have to work with.

Yes, you can hit the wide serve, but you can't do much damage down the middle. So, the returner can stand out wide and wait for the wide serve knowing that anything to his/her left will be within easy reach. If he/she has a good backhand, that means an easy return. If your opponent isn't smart enough to figure that out, then you're going to have an easy win no matter what you do.

My partners make me play the deuce court because I can hit strong BH returns, even when being jammed. For me, someone who stands closer to the middle and can stretch me either way is 100 times worse than someone who stands wide.

larry10s
08-25-2010, 03:45 AM
starting your serve closer to the middle like in singles works well for the up the t serve and like everyone said decreases angle, inhibits dtl return, gets the net man involved. it works as long as the returner cant hit a sharp angled return off the serve.
when the returner is killing you with sharp angle returns moving wide is sometimes an answer.
at the extreme if you stand in the doubles alley to serve you can serve extremely wide. if the returner does not shift his return location with your new starting place you will have many free points.
once he shifts and you go "up the middle" ie as much to the middle as you can get from your angle the returner will be contacting the ball from around where a body serve would be if you were standing more to the middle
HOWEVER when he tries to hit an angled return from there you are in the middle of his "up the middle " and "wide" targets because of where you the server is starting from
hope this makes sence
p.s. i usually serve from more to the middle like in singles so i can more easily go straight up the middle until i start getting beat with the angled returns

as i said here serving from a wide position for me helps if the player CAN hit the sharp angle inside out bh

spaceman_spiff
08-25-2010, 04:32 AM
as i said here serving from a wide position for me helps if the player CAN hit the sharp angle inside out bh

Well, it all depends on how well you can place your serve.

The whole point of standing closer to the middle (not necessarily on the T) is to open up the DTM serve and really make your opponent stretch and pick on his/her backhand, while still being able to hit the wide serve. This is assuming the player can consistently place his/her serve.

Of course, if he can't place his serves well enough to stretch the opponent, and he/she is hitting solid returns that are causing trouble, then the server's only option is to adjust his positioning to limit the damage.

But, if one's serves relative to the opponents' returns are so weak that positioning is used for damage control rather than attacking options, then perhaps serving practice would be more useful than strategy discussions.

Cindysphinx
08-25-2010, 04:46 AM
The problem with standing wide comes in when facing someone with a decent backhand. The wider you stand, the fewer angles you have to work with.

Yes, you can hit the wide serve, but you can't do much damage down the middle. So, the returner can stand out wide and wait for the wide serve knowing that anything to his/her left will be within easy reach. If he/she has a good backhand, that means an easy return. If your opponent isn't smart enough to figure that out, then you're going to have an easy win no matter what you do.

My partners make me play the deuce court because I can hit strong BH returns, even when being jammed. For me, someone who stands closer to the middle and can stretch me either way is 100 times worse than someone who stands wide.

I think part of the problem here is semantics, as we're using different views of what "wide" is.

Say that serving from a position near the T = "T".

Say that serving from a position halfway between the T and the doubles sideline = "midway"

Say that serving from a position near the doubles alley = "wide"

Understood that way, your first sentence doesn't make sense to me. If I stand wide to serve, I have more angles to work with, as does my returner. Did I misunderstand you?

spaceman_spiff
08-25-2010, 05:34 AM
I think part of the problem here is semantics, as we're using different views of what "wide" is.

Say that serving from a position near the T = "T".

Say that serving from a position halfway between the T and the doubles sideline = "midway"

Say that serving from a position near the doubles alley = "wide"

Understood that way, your first sentence doesn't make sense to me. If I stand wide to serve, I have more angles to work with, as does my returner. Did I misunderstand you?

Sorry, I was a bit unclear.

If you stand out wide, because you have no angle to hit a good DTM serve, you have in effect taken away any serve options that would make the returner stretch to his/her left.

So, if the returner has a solid backhand that gives you problems, you have effectively removed that serve as one of your options: anything to his/her left will come within easy reach, allowing him/her to hit the solid BH with ease.

That leaves the wide serve as your only option. But, that of course goes right to the forehand, which also can cause problems. With the threat of the DTM serve no longer there, the returner will just stand farther to the right.

Standing closer to the center (halfway between the T and midway) opens up that DTM serve so that you have an angle that will make the returner stretch. It also still leaves a good enough angle to hit the slice serve and stretch the returner that way as well.

Even someone with solid strokes will struggle to hit threatening returns if he/she is stretched, regardless of whether it's on the FH or BH side. So, serving from a position where you can stretch your opponent right or left is better than a position where you only have one option.

When you have a minute, draw a tennis court on a piece of paper and then draw the possible serving angles from central and wide positions. You'll see that, if you serve from a central position, the two sides of the triangle are farther apart when they touch the opposite baseline than on the triangle from serving from out wide. That is, your serving window from a central position is much bigger than from a wide position.

larry10s
08-25-2010, 08:07 AM
i agree and disagre at the same time:shock:
when you stand in the alley to take the extreme example the returner has to shift with you to be in the center of your serving targets
so you still have a wide(very wide)serve area to stretch him on his forehand side and if he shades to that side an up the middle relatively speaking or bh side to stretch him if you can hit the targets


as a serve and vollier the returns i have trouble getting to ie the sharp angled ones that give me problems . coming from the wide starting place makes it more difficult to get the return away from me.

larry10s
08-25-2010, 08:14 AM
Well, it all depends on how well you can place your serve.

The whole point of standing closer to the middle (not necessarily on the T) is to open up the DTM serve and really make your opponent stretch and pick on his/her backhand, while still being able to hit the wide serve. This is assuming the player can consistently place his/her serve.

Of course, if he can't place his serves well enough to stretch the opponent, and he/she is hitting solid returns that are causing trouble, then the server's only option is to adjust his positioning to limit the damage.

But, if one's serves relative to the opponents' returns are so weak that positioning is used for damage control rather than attacking options, then perhaps serving practice would be more useful than strategy discussions.

even the pros dont hit a down the t ace or weak or unreturnable serve down the t serve 100% of the time.
on a day that my down the t is landing more in the inside third of the service( dtm third) box instead of within inches of the T AND since im starting in the center i have to run somewhat diagonal to get to the angle return .......
starting wider helps

spaceman_spiff
08-25-2010, 08:18 AM
i agree and disagre at the same time:shock:
when you stand in the alley to take the extreme example the returner has to shift with you to be in the center of your serving targets
so you still have a wide(very wide)serve area to stretch him on his forehand side and if he shades to that side an up the middle relatively speaking or bh side to stretch him if you can hit the targets


as a serve and vollier the returns i have trouble getting to ie the sharp angled ones that give me problems . coming from the wide starting place makes it more difficult to get the return away from me.

That's true, but a wide serve (when your opponent is standing out wide) gives the returner a better angle to go outside your partner. This threat forces your partner to stand farther out to protect the alley, which opens up the down-the-middle return on any serves that don't go wide enough to take away that angle.

And, with you wide to one side and your partner wide on the other, a good DTM return off a subpar serve can split the two of you or at least put you both at a stretch.

BTW, I think the down-the-middle return is an under-utilized tool. When the netman isn't moving for whatever reason and the server is a bit wide, a good shot DTM can win you some easy points. But, you have to be smart with it.

larry10s
08-25-2010, 08:22 AM
That's true, but a wide serve (when your opponent is standing out wide) gives the returner a better angle to go outside your partner. This threat forces your partner to stand farther out to protect the alley, which opens up the down-the-middle return on any serves that don't go wide enough to take away that angle.

And, with you wide to one side and your partner wide on the other, a good DTM return off a subpar serve can split the two of you or at least put you both at a stretch.

BTW, I think the down-the-middle return is an under-utilized tool. When the netman isn't moving for whatever reason and the server is a bit wide, a good shot DTM can win you some easy points. But, you have to be smart with it.

a down the middle return is still coming TOWARDS me due to where im starting. easier than trying to catch up with the return that trailing away from me.
when the net player is a tree with no branches the dtm return to get to the servers bh is golden:)
i still prefer to serve from the middle and use the other locations if plan A isnt working

spot
08-25-2010, 10:05 AM
LuckyR- on the deuce side I serve 90% of balls to the backhand and 10% out wide. (yes... thats once out of every 2 or 3 games or so to go wide on the deuce side) For someone to run around a well struck serve down the middle they have to flat guess to be able to get to their forehand. And even still They ahve to run around leaving a ton of court open and still have to hit a good return of serve. I'm more than happy to let them try. I think that people hit far too many balls to people's forehands when few people can attack off of the backhand side.

I'll just say it sounds like you haven't tried lining up down the middle and hitting all the serves to the backhand. Don't stop when they get one point. Only stop when they show that they can HURT you with that return. Seriously I think you are grossly overestimating how many people can either hit that inside out backhand with a sharp angle or round around a well struck serve up the middle to hit that same sharp angle. If you don't have the control on the serve to consistently hit backhands then maybe this isn't the strategy for you.

Up until the 4.5 level or so people often play the deuce side because their forehand is stronger. In doubles when you serve down the middle you are getting the advantage of geogmetry plus making them hit an inside out backhand.

LuckyR
08-25-2010, 11:25 AM
LuckyR- on the deuce side I serve 90% of balls to the backhand and 10% out wide. (yes... thats once out of every 2 or 3 games or so to go wide on the deuce side) For someone to run around a well struck serve down the middle they have to flat guess to be able to get to their forehand. And even still They ahve to run around leaving a ton of court open and still have to hit a good return of serve. I'm more than happy to let them try. I think that people hit far too many balls to people's forehands when few people can attack off of the backhand side.

I'll just say it sounds like you haven't tried lining up down the middle and hitting all the serves to the backhand. Don't stop when they get one point. Only stop when they show that they can HURT you with that return. Seriously I think you are grossly overestimating how many people can either hit that inside out backhand with a sharp angle or round around a well struck serve up the middle to hit that same sharp angle. If you don't have the control on the serve to consistently hit backhands then maybe this isn't the strategy for you.

Up until the 4.5 level or so people often play the deuce side because their forehand is stronger. In doubles when you serve down the middle you are getting the advantage of geogmetry plus making them hit an inside out backhand.


Well, if you only hit out wide once every 2-3 games, it isn't really much of a "guess", it sounds a lot more like a certainty. Just as I am unwilling to give up my much more frequent wide serves, they would be crazy (or poor doubles players) to NOT be willing to give away one point every 2-3 games.

spot
08-25-2010, 02:52 PM
Like I said LuckyR- I'd try it before you talk about how it doesn't work.

LuckyR
08-25-2010, 04:56 PM
Like I said LuckyR- I'd try it before you talk about how it doesn't work.

I apologize for being difficult to understand. I don't disagree that it can work. You already said it works for you and I believe you. I am saying that if I hit one wide serve every 2-3 games against my competition, they are going to be running around their BH on serves to the T, when I start teeing off on their BH returns with my wicked FH from the center of the court.

spot
08-26-2010, 04:59 AM
LuckyR- and that means that they are running all the way to the ad side and hitting wide to your forehand which gives you all the angle in the world to work with. If they don't hit a winner off of that then they are in deep trouble in the point. Once again- I'll just suggest going out and try it because I think you are worried about what might happen instead of what actually does happen when you just pound the ball down the middle to the backhand. SErving down the middle on the deuce side to a righty piles advantages on top of advantages, but only if you have the serve accuracy to consistently hit your spots. If you can't consistently hit the backhand then the strategy wouldn't work for you.

LuckyR
08-26-2010, 07:08 AM
Two questions:

1) Do you line up wider on your second serves to righties on the deuce side?

2) What do you do when receiving from the deuce side and the server performs your exact strategy on you?

larry10s
08-26-2010, 07:11 AM
spot im with you if you can hit the t consistently no reason to change except once in a blue moon for surprise.( at non crucial moments) or if your getting beat on the returns.
btw rafa serves pretty consistenly to the backhand of his opponents and it seems to work.

spot
08-26-2010, 07:31 AM
LuckyR- for doubles I use a lot of kick serves on first serves just because I think that so few people can hit the inside out backhand angle to hurt me. So I do stand in the same place for first and second serves. I'd rather have a high percentage serve that I can hit to the backhand over and over than trying to hit hard at someone where I have less control. The times I'll adjust are when I play with a net player who gets nervous on weak balls coming to them. This strategy generates a TON of weak returns to the net person and if they aren't comfortable with that then you have to adjust.

If someone has a good down the middle serve then my mode of attack is to lob the net person. This is a crosscourt lob that will go to the server's backhand. If the net person doesn't have a strong overhead or if the server doesn't do a good job of generating pace off of the backhand then to me this is the highest percentage return for the returner. But for the most part I'm pretty shocked at how often my opponents serve to my forehand.

Cindysphinx
08-26-2010, 08:36 AM
Spot, this may be a gender thing, but I think I see as many weak FHs than BHs these days. A lot of women can smack their BHs quite well, but you'll see a lot of funky mechanics on the FH side.

Where I serve depends on what I see in warm-up. If I see shaky mechanics on the FH, I have no fear of going there. If the player looks balanced, then I will just hit my most effective serves and let them figure it out.

Also, I have noticed that if I hit a lot of slice, this will bother some women. If I hit slice to the FH, they will often push it wide and miss. If I hit slice to the BH, people often hit winners by accident (short angles or dinks I can't reach unless I had planned to S&V). I'm not sure why that happens, but I think serving to the BH is often not the best approach among the opponents I see.

And of course if I have a partner who is not good at net and is dumping easy volleys, I prefer to serve out wide so my partner is less tempted to poach.

larry10s
08-26-2010, 08:50 AM
And of course if I have a partner who is not good at net and is dumping easy volleys, I prefer to serve out wide so my partner is less tempted to poach.

good strategy cindy

spaceman_spiff
08-27-2010, 12:47 AM
Spot, this may be a gender thing, but I think I see as many weak FHs than BHs these days. A lot of women can smack their BHs quite well, but you'll see a lot of funky mechanics on the FH side.

Where I serve depends on what I see in warm-up. If I see shaky mechanics on the FH, I have no fear of going there. If the player looks balanced, then I will just hit my most effective serves and let them figure it out.

Also, I have noticed that if I hit a lot of slice, this will bother some women. If I hit slice to the FH, they will often push it wide and miss. If I hit slice to the BH, people often hit winners by accident (short angles or dinks I can't reach unless I had planned to S&V). I'm not sure why that happens, but I think serving to the BH is often not the best approach among the opponents I see.

And of course if I have a partner who is not good at net and is dumping easy volleys, I prefer to serve out wide so my partner is less tempted to poach.

Oh, you absolutely have to keep your eyes open for the player whose FH is the weaker side. They aren't as common amongst the men, but they are out there. Those with long strokes and/or extreme grips often struggle with certain serves.

Even people with solid FH groundstrokes can have weak FH returns. One of my regular practice partners is like that. If you serve reasonably hard or wide, he just tries to block it back, but he often ends up popping it up. It gets him into trouble in doubles.

But, even against these players, I still wouldn't recommend standing too far wide. If you don't have the option to serve DTM to catch them out on the BH, then they will just slide over to protect the FH, making it harder for you to attack it. Going down the middle from time to time will keep them honest, so you need to serve from a position where you can hit either serve.

It's the same thing with people with a weak BH playing on the ad side. They stand out in the alley to protect the BH, but it leaves a massive hole in the middle. If you hit a couple of good DTM serves and win easy points, it forces them to move over a bit, making it easier to then hit wide serves to the BH and win even more easy points.

Basically, if you have a good serve (not just power, but placement and spin as well), then the spot from which you can hit the biggest variety of effective serves is the place to be. There's no reason to limit your options by standing too wide.

MrCLEAN
08-29-2010, 07:27 PM
Don't play much doubles, but when I do, and I'm returning, it's much easier for me to return wide serves from both sides of the court, assuming the net player isn't camping on the sideline, I can go down the line or crosscourt. Knowing that, when I'm serving, I'll generally set up about 3 feet off the center service mark. From the deuce court (assuming the returners are RH), I generally go up the middle almost exclusively. It goes to the generally weaker side, takes away the crosscourt return, and forces them to hit inside out backhands to an approaching net player. On the ad side, I generally go to the BH, but not so wide as to give them a look at a DTL pass. I make allowances for a noticeably weaker FH or BH return, and will sometimes sneak closer to a sideline when serving to see if they notice and adjust. If they do not, I go for an ace out wide.

LuckyR
08-30-2010, 07:30 AM
LuckyR- for doubles I use a lot of kick serves on first serves just because I think that so few people can hit the inside out backhand angle to hurt me. So I do stand in the same place for first and second serves. I'd rather have a high percentage serve that I can hit to the backhand over and over than trying to hit hard at someone where I have less control. The times I'll adjust are when I play with a net player who gets nervous on weak balls coming to them. This strategy generates a TON of weak returns to the net person and if they aren't comfortable with that then you have to adjust.

If someone has a good down the middle serve then my mode of attack is to lob the net person. This is a crosscourt lob that will go to the server's backhand. If the net person doesn't have a strong overhead or if the server doesn't do a good job of generating pace off of the backhand then to me this is the highest percentage return for the returner. But for the most part I'm pretty shocked at how often my opponents serve to my forehand.


Good answers. I went ahead and tried the tactic this weekend. The first pair included a relatively weak partner on the deuce side (singles player) and it worked like a charm, he never seemed to catch on that I was going 100% of the time on the first serve to his BH. Although I have a kicker, my reliable one doesn't have insane kick, so I was going for the flat first serve and stepped into standard position for the second (this particular individual has an odd BH slice that he can place into the alley inside out, but he can miss if the serve has pace). The second and third pairs had lefties on the deuce side. I am still wondering what folks with doubles experience will do, though as you know I have my suspicions.

As to the lob, it is an obviously good option... for those with good lobs and that wouldn't be me.