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View Full Version : How do you handle big serves in doubles?


johndagolfer
12-30-2011, 10:31 AM
I am moving up a level and I have a feeling I am not going to given as many soft serves as I did last year.

I am also not playing singles this year so I will not have the liberty of chipping balls deep down the middle.

When you are facing someone who has a dominating type serve in doubles is the best option left to lob?

esgee48
12-30-2011, 10:40 AM
Depends on the pace and placement. If stretched out, lob high and deep. If you can set up (get to it), treat the shot like a half volley, i.e. short turn and meet the ball out in front. Go back cross court towards the server's alley. You want the ball to stay low and land just past the service line if the server S&V. If it's relatively slow, treat it like a ground stroke.

Kevo
12-30-2011, 11:03 AM
I agree it depends on how big the serve is. If it's really big, then you pretty much lose the point. :-(

That's just a fact of doubles. If you can get the ball over the net man's head, or cross court to the server then you should be pretty happy. Don't expect to be able to do much against a big server in doubles. Just try to do whatever you can to get into the point.

Mick
12-30-2011, 11:06 AM
stand 10 feet behind the baseline to return serve like an atp player :)

Xizel
12-30-2011, 11:26 AM
The lob. If he can smash like he serves from the baseline, that's just a situation of outclass.

sphinx780
12-30-2011, 11:42 AM
You're only other option from the stated above is to see if you can get more direction on your chip: work on getting it cross court and get yourself into the point. Focus on keeping it low (if you can...one thing at a time here) to avoid getting picked off easily.

goran_ace
12-30-2011, 11:50 AM
When facing a big server my mindset is that I want to get as a many back in play as possible. Don't let the guy get a lot of free points on his serve. Make him have to hit another another ball, make him play out the point.

Take a minimal/compact backswing, move forward/diagonally towards the ball and try to stay in front of it. If you are moving laterally you won't have anything behind your shot and it's just as tough as if the ball is past you. I want to put my weight/momentum into the return wit hmy feet and meet it out in front with my racket. I'm looking to just guide it back over the net and use the server's power against him (as oposed to trying to generate your own pace). My checkdown list is - first can I get it over the net, second can I keep it away from the net man, and then third can I place it where it's going to be a tougher first ball for the server (e.g. at his feet, short angle).

Last resort is to throw up a lob, but if you do that you want to keep it high and deep otherwise be ready to tell your partner to clear out if you leave it short.

goran_ace
12-30-2011, 11:56 AM
stand 10 feet behind the baseline to return serve like an atp player :)

I'm all for moving back, but I'd be careful to tell anyone to stand back there because sometimes they do just that - they literally stand back there and watch the ball go past them!

Still gotta get the feet moving forward towards the ball to get some weight behind it and to cut off the angle.

RoughOG
12-30-2011, 11:59 AM
Short slice to server's side away from their net man.
Their net man needs to run and cover the ball, your partner becomes a wall and puts away what comes over the net. HOPEFULLY

johndagolfer
12-30-2011, 12:12 PM
This is easy in singles, but getting a big serve cross court in doubles consistently isn't easy especially if he has a good net man backing him up.

Watching the local D1 team when I see doubles, and they all seem to have big serves, first serves are just hit it as hard as you can.

Do you guys think this is an option. Give them something they can't put away easy?

When facing a big server my mindset is that I want to get as a many back in play as possible. Don't let the guy get a lot of free points on his serve. Make him have to hit another another ball, make him play out the point.

Take a minimal/compact backswing, move forward/diagonally towards the ball and try to stay in front of it. If you are moving laterally you won't have anything behind your shot and it's just as tough as if the ball is past you. I want to put my weight/momentum into the return wit hmy feet and meet it out in front with my racket. I'm looking to just guide it back over the net and use the server's power against him (as oposed to trying to generate your own pace). My checkdown list is - first can I get it over the net, second can I keep it away from the net man, and then third can I place it where it's going to be a tougher first ball for the server (e.g. at his feet, short angle).

Last resort is to throw up a lob, but if you do that you want to keep it high and deep otherwise be ready to tell your partner to clear out if you leave it short.

Limpinhitter
12-30-2011, 12:18 PM
I am moving up a level and I have a feeling I am not going to given as many soft serves as I did last year.

I am also not playing singles this year so I will not have the liberty of chipping balls deep down the middle.

When you are facing someone who has a dominating type serve in doubles is the best option left to lob?

Stand in close and block the ball back. You can generate a lot of power against a big serve just by making clean contact.

Mick
12-30-2011, 12:29 PM
The lob. If he can smash like he serves from the baseline, that's just a situation of outclass.

well, if you and your doubles partner are decent servers as well, it comes down who serves better in the tie-breaks :)

goran_ace
12-30-2011, 01:03 PM
This is easy in singles, but getting a big serve cross court in doubles consistently isn't easy especially if he has a good net man backing him up.

Watching the local D1 team when I see doubles, and they all seem to have big serves, first serves are just hit it as hard as you can.

Do you guys think this is an option. Give them something they can't put away easy?

You're right - no, it's not easy to do. While it would be great to give them something they can't put away easy, when going through those mental checkdowns, most of the time you are just trying to send it back over the net and you won't get past hoping you can keep it away from the net guy. The goal is to extend the point. Make them have to put away that volley instead of winning it outright on the serve. Sure most of the time they will put away that ball, and either way you lose that particular point, but over the course of a set/match the errors can creep in and you never know when one point can make a difference or shift the momentum.

And I was speaking from DI college experience. When everyone has a big serve you can only do so much. Most of the time you trade holds, breaks are precious and few, so you have to try hard to manufacture opportunities where there otherwise are none.

papa
12-30-2011, 03:13 PM
stand 10 feet behind the baseline to return serve like an atp player :)

This is probably just a tongue and cheek comment but you really don't want to do this because you just open up the angles too much on each side. Tour players are very quick and manage to get to these shots but most players cannot.

papa
12-30-2011, 03:22 PM
If servers partner stays up at net, one of the best moves is a simple block lob over his head - not a hard shot to use and very effective especially if the server moves up each time.

I agree with those that suggest you not do too much with the return - just get the ball back with decent pace going after the servers feet.

So, in either case (lob over net man or block type return to server) keep the return conservative.

Mick
12-30-2011, 03:26 PM
This is probably just a tongue and cheek comment but you really don't want to do this because you just open up the angles too much on each side. Tour players are very quick and manage to get to these shots but most players cannot.

:) i picked that up when i went to watch del potro, verdasco, and other atp pros play live. they would stand really far back but some would move in as the opponent was about to strike the ball. if i did the same thing at the tennis courts where i usually play, I would hit the fence because there isn't that much space.

fuzz nation
12-30-2011, 04:31 PM
My return is certainly one of the weaker components of my game and against a big server, I'm usually just looking to punch a slice return low and cross-court away from that server's partner. I agree with goran ace in terms of making an effort to carry forward momentum into my move on the ball. That lets me quickly set up the racquet behind the ball and move through it instead of eating time I don't have to try and swing at that heater. That sort of return is more like a regular volley, but from deeper in the court.

Since my return can be rather slow and predictable, I need to hit well away from that server's partner up at the net, but I also have to keep that player honest. Early on in a match, I like to remember to lob that net player off my return or even test him (or her) with a quick punch right at 'em if not up the alley. Otherwise they'll eventually walk right into my cross-court return and blow my partner's shoes off when they get the inclination.

johndagolfer
12-30-2011, 04:54 PM
you all make it sound so easy. Yeah I'll just lob a big flat serve down the T or punch it cross court. Maybe I am just a bad returner :).

We had a team practice for doubles and I had guys hitting 100mph easily down the T or hitting wide spinners. Definitely sounds easier than it actually is

Cindysphinx
12-30-2011, 04:57 PM
Shorten your backswing.

If that doesn't work, shorten your backswing.

If that still doesn't work, try shortening your backswing.

If that doesn't work . . .

Change your receiving position. Try standing really deep. Then really close. Then shade toward FH. Then shade toward BH. Then try changing position when he tosses.

It is rare for me to come across a server (4.0 guys) who can hit all the spots at will. There has to be some spot he will struggle to hit. Find it.

papa
12-31-2011, 04:51 AM
you all make it sound so easy. Yeah I'll just lob a big flat serve down the T or punch it cross court. Maybe I am just a bad returner :).

We had a team practice for doubles and I had guys hitting 100mph easily down the T or hitting wide spinners. Definitely sounds easier than it actually is

Well, your right it isn't "easy" but better (and easier) than trying to take a full rip at the ball and keep it in. With practice, you would be quite amazed at how well you can do it - much shorter swing, getting the racquet on the ball, placement, don't change you mind, etc.

johndagolfer
12-31-2011, 04:52 PM
Well, your right it isn't "easy" but better (and easier) than trying to take a full rip at the ball and keep it in. With practice, you would be quite amazed at how well you can do it - much shorter swing, getting the racquet on the ball, placement, don't change you mind, etc.

I totally agree a full swing, as I have seen in dI and the pros isn't the best say to return these balls. For my forehand I basically just stick my racquet to just about my contact point and do a push topspin drive. It works well, but even then the last 2 matches I've seen, those balls were chased down by a good poach. My backhand would be the side I would slice block back more, and I am more afraid of the easy net kill on that side.

Question, do a lot of you who slice back serve returns in doubles not worry about a quick, good net man killing your partner?

esgee48
12-31-2011, 05:11 PM
John, if the guy's partner is that aggressive, then sent some shots hard DTL, just to remind him not to be that aggressive. I was watching some 5.0's playing doubles and that's the tactic they used. Just prepare for their reflex volley.

KMV
12-31-2011, 05:29 PM
A key to returning BIG serves (110 mph and above) is to keep your racquet head very stable and middle the ball at the point of contact. Taking bigger cuts at the ball help after you know you are sighting and middling the ball well.

I also prefer being position on and around the baseline to begin with. tanding way back allows more accomplished servers can get wider angles on their serves. Based on the opponents serve patterns, you can then adjust your position.

Ballinbob
01-01-2012, 11:47 AM
Stand in close and block the ball back. You can generate a lot of power against a big serve just by making clean contact.

This. I take a very short swing and keep my head still as possible in order to make clean contact. I was playing a guy with a big serve last week and I was able to hit some nice returns simply by making solid contact and blocking them back.

As for standing back, dont do it against good servers. If I see someone do that they will be getting a lot of slice and kick serves out wide.... Obviously standing back is a good strategy for some just dont overdo it

damazing
01-01-2012, 02:06 PM
Here are a few big serves - you can see how they handled them (or didn't)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLW2vbdQeho

Limpinhitter
01-01-2012, 02:28 PM
This. I take a very short swing and keep my head still as possible in order to make clean contact. I was playing a guy with a big serve last week and I was able to hit some nice returns simply by making solid contact and blocking them back.

As for standing back, dont do it against good servers. If I see someone do that they will be getting a lot of slice and kick serves out wide.... Obviously standing back is a good strategy for some just dont overdo it

If you're playing against a good doubles team, the net man is always looking to poach and end the point quickly. The reason you want to return from in front of the baseline is to give yourself the best chance to get the ball past the net man and down at the server's feet if he's a s&v, or deep if he's not. If you stand too far back, you're giving a good doubles net player too much time to catch up to your return.

johndagolfer
01-01-2012, 02:47 PM
Here are a few big serves - you can see how they handled them (or didn't)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLW2vbdQeho

Thanks for the video! I think it shows that very few slice returns are hit against big serves. There is also fine line between going for a shot and just trying to get it back into play. If that first guy got a first serve in I rarely saw them lose a point.

I guess if I am up against a big server it's try to get the first back and/or hope that he gives me some seconds to look at.

damazing
01-01-2012, 04:32 PM
Thanks for the video! I think it shows that very few slice returns are hit against big serves. There is also fine line between going for a shot and just trying to get it back into play. If that first guy got a first serve in I rarely saw them lose a point.

I guess if I am up against a big server it's try to get the first back and/or hope that he gives me some seconds to look at.

Just fyi regarding the video, the winning team has a 5.5 level player and a 5.0 player.

Off The Wall
01-01-2012, 10:59 PM
Question, do a lot of you who slice back serve returns in doubles not worry about a quick, good net man killing your partner?

Not really.

I pretty much volley back a hard serve back to the incoming server. So, I'm pretty close to the BL. Done to specs, it goes low to the server's FH or BH, depending on deuce side or ad. I don't see many poaches off of them. If the server's power makes my returns more randomly placed, then a poach is not uncommon. That's how it goes.

I don't worry about my partner getting killed because: a) he's too good to get hit by a volley, and b) if the return is a setup, the opponents are too good to pass up a clean winner for a chance at hitting him.

86golf
01-02-2012, 05:00 AM
You need to practice by having your hitting partner serve (60-70%) from the service line and you practice returning from inside the baseline. This will work on those quick reflexes and help you time it better because you have less time to prepare. When you play your matches, you will feel like you have more time.

I find that lobbing a big serve is very difficult to control. Unless you stand way back and give up court position and even then it is likely you will throw up a short lob and get your partner killed. I think it is easier to step in take it on the rise and just block it back.

Also, you mention a D1 school nearby. I've hired college kids for $20 an hour to hit with me. They'd be glad to bomb some serves at you if you give them a little cash.

I am moving up a level and I have a feeling I am not going to given as many soft serves as I did last year.

I am also not playing singles this year so I will not have the liberty of chipping balls deep down the middle.

When you are facing someone who has a dominating type serve in doubles is the best option left to lob?

mntlblok
01-02-2012, 10:48 AM
Here are a few big serves - you can see how they handled them (or didn't)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLW2vbdQeho

The serves didn't strike me as being all that "big", but you could do a lot worse than patterning yer serve returns after Rick Kepler's. I've tried to copy a number of his moves, having had the opportunity to watch him at the National 40's Clay Courts for a few years. Quite a character, too.:mrgreen:

One "trick" that I've developed on my own against big servers is a specialized slice lob. The "trick" part is that it's pulled off by using a very "open" racket face, standing *way* in, and actually taking a pretty good cut at the ball - but with a "flat" swing - not "upward" at all.

It takes some experimentation for getting the amount of "open-ness" of the racket face, and also how hard you can get away with swinging at it, but it's a whole lot easier than it sounds. It's actually pretty difficult to hit the ball out "long" with technique. Whilst experimenting, err on the side of what feels like "too open" and "too hard" a swing. You'll be surprised. *And*, the bounce off this shot will drive *some* folks batty - even leading to some outright winners when they don't anticipate the bounce. *And*, it seems that you don't have to "middle" the shot. Anything on the strings seems to work out pretty "well enough".

The height of this kind of lob is such that it would take a *very* high level player to hurt you with an overhead - especially if you can get yerself to swing hard enough at it.

Standing way in also cuts off the angles. Smart players automatically go straight at you with the body serve, and sometimes you just have to say "too good", but anticipating this might save the day. Also, standing way in allows you to catch the ball before the bounce gets up too high. I always thought it completely unfair that the really big servers could also get that serve to bounce so dern high.

Oh, and you may (or may not) be surprised at how often folks will double fault if you stand way in against their big, macho serve. :mrgreen:

Kevin

super-cool-guy-96
01-03-2012, 07:57 AM
Hit it back as hard as you can.

I like to try a backspin lob to the baseline which gives me time to get back in the point:shock:

In D Zone
01-06-2012, 09:56 AM
Take a few steps back from the baseline, feet planted wide, subtle hop as the serve toss the ball . Chip, FH /Bh Slice, Block, Short compact swing - whatever it takes to make contact with the ball. Key is to try to return the ball x-court away from line of fire where the opposing net person can poach the return. And if I'm able to control the serve, I'll hit it DTL once in awhile to the net person.