Australian Open

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Bungalo Bill, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Has any of you doubles players watched the doubles on TV? What do you think? Any interesting things learned? Tatics? Strategies? Serving placement? Net play? Movement? We had a doubles thread that disappeared so maybe we can get a little new one going.

    Any one catch Todd Woodbridge's match?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Only saw a few minutes...
    Looks like body serve works best overall, and should be employed most often.
    I always thought wide serves are low percentage, as your opponent has a bigger court, can hit down the line, short angle, or lob deep crosscourt.
    Up the middle serves are OK, but opponent with topspin can go down the line, and the serve lands shorter, giving the opponent an easier chance to return.
    Sorry, I was busy ducking the rain mostly.
    Oh, and short takeback return of serves.
     
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  3. habib

    habib Professional

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    These seem to interestingly enough be making a comeback in singles play, as well.
     
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  4. Farz77

    Farz77 Rookie

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    1. The William Sisters are killing with their 1 up - 1 back tactic. Venus in their last match with Stubbs did not serve & volley once.
    2. None of the top 4 men players play doubles, and perhaps more. they should, practice their net game.
    3. Federer & Wawrinka should play at slams together, after the Bryan Bros lost to them at the Olympics, they said Fed-Stan team were the most amazing doubles team they have ever played. They said their teamwork is so great.

    Great idea BB!
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Still, gotta do what you do best.
    Girls like to play baseline rallys, have great groundies, can pass equally well, but sometimes have trouble with volleys and backhand overheads. So they play back safe and sane.
    If Nadal played back, he'd do OK against the best men. If anyone had groundies like his, they could choose whereever they stand, with equal effectiveness, but more comfort at the baseline.
    Theory is, two up beats one and one, but theory gets proven wrong all the time in real life.
     
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  6. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Things I've learned from my very brief viewings of doubles matches in the Australian Open:

    1. Venus and Serena can't volley worth a lick.

    2. The players who are constantly active at net usually come out on top. Liezel Huber and Cara Black are shining examples of this on the women's side, as are the Bryans on the men's side. Huber and Black are the number one doubles team, with the Bryans only losing the top spot very recently. Coincidence? I think not.

    3. The top players use their serve to set up the point instead of always going for the ace. The majority of the serves are usually placed up the T or into the body, since the wide serve tends to open up the down the line shot, which forces the net man to guard the alley instead of looking to be aggressive and poach.

    4. Serve and volley is NOT dead, by any means. All the top men's teams serve and volley on almost every serve, seconds included. There are plenty of women as well who play serve and volley, Huber/Black included.

    5. The down the line shots seems to be one of the most important shots in the doubles game, especially on service returns. It makes the net player think twice before poaching.
     
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  7. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    I was taught to serve down the middle (in doubles) to limit the possible returns. In theopen I notice a lot of serves going to the backhand.

    It is interesting to think that professionals may have backhand issues just like some of us mere mortals.
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For lotsa pros, I'd say the majority, the backhand is more consistent, but not as powerful. So you tend to serve there expecting to first volley for depth, then move in for the putaway.
    If you serve only to the forehand of PROS, you'd lose, you'd lose your partner.
    As for middle.... I find it easy to go down the line when I get served up the middle. Lotsa top helps, and you gotta go down the line sometimes anyways, so why not when served up the middle?
    Venus and Serena volley better than any of us. They miss because they're not trying to volley, they're trying putaway shots against what they consider inferior players.
     
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  9. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I noticed a lot of serves going to the center line half of the court (middle half). Some up the T, some into the body. They also went wide and when I saw this, I noticed the netman move a few steps or hops over to cover the line. Lots of movement and team play was evident. I also noticed which teams played like a doubles team and which teams played like two singles players put on the same court.

    I also noticed a tad more lobbing. Not much.
     
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  10. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, that is interesting to see the one-up one-back formation used more often. Any thoughts on why?
     
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  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I saw the same. Also, I like Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama playing as a team as well. They look tough.

    Wonder what the women players here think.

    Yes, exactly! I wish more doubles players at the club level would realize this. Doubles is not the same power game as singles. Lots of clean hitting.

    Yes! Good insight!

    Yes, element of surprise, hitting there when their opponents are somewhat out of position.

    Good job!!
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    At my inferior level of doubles, I HATE IT when my partner insists on serving wide to the forehand EVERY time.
    Since bad players generally have better forehands than backhands, this tactic doesn't make sense.
    And why, at 3.5 or so, don't anyone possess a real first serve, then a real second serve, that's say 30mph slower but goes in all the time?
    We all watch TV tennis, every pro serves like the above paragraph, why don't my partners?
    Just ranting here, I watch the pros serve into the body, then move it around, then go right back to the hittingside hip.
     
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  13. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A couple of things some new (for me) some not so new:

    1- Watching women's tennis (in this case doubles) has a lot more practical application to my game than the men's game.

    2- When in 1 up/1 back baseline exchanges, the netmen cover the alley then go for the poach on a suprisingly high percentage of shots. Most often they end up not taking a swing, as the CC shot is just too much of an angle. But you can tell they are going for it.

    3- IMO the most underrated shot (and hence the one I will personally be concentrating on) is the BH overhead volley. Since you should be poaching aggressively from both sides (assuming that is part of your strategy, which it is for me), getting to high BH volleys but not putting them away often leads to breaks and saves, which after all is what doubles is all about.

    4- The receiver's partner concentrates more on the opposing netman's action than the return itself.
     
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  14. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Bill,
    I caught some doubles action when the Bryan brothers were on. I don't think WE can learn much from pro doubles. Everything is super fast and very different from the usual non-pro doubles we play :)

    The lack of discussion of grand slam doubles is indicative.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Backhand overhead...
    Turn sideways, watch ball, aim to hit it DEEP into the opponents open court, either down the alley or up the middle, but DEEP.
    Some real good atheletes can hit regular overheads on any ball that goes over the backhand side. I don't recommend it, as it takes them out of position after their shot, and if the opposition can volley, will usually get it back.
     
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  16. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I agree. I also agree that we shouldnt serve up the T all the time like we used to think. Hitting the serve wide is a play, a tactic that can be used in doubles if the players know why they are serving wide and how they are to cover their court in the process. Most club players just serve wide. And yes, serving to the backhand at the club level is a good one.

    Well, at the 3.5 level the game is much different than the pros. Most players dont have a real fast first serve for various reasons. I think a lot of them do drop their mph's but is more considered a careful ploy to get the ball in the box and take it from there.

    Most players at that level do not work on their serve, are afraid to fail, or simply dont know how. They also normally dont face polished returners that can take advantage of a weak serve.

    Because you dont have the right partner. If you played with me, both my first and second serve are bringing it. Twist, out wide, into the body, up the T, slice, topspin, flat, short in the box, deep in the box, you call it and I will get it to happen. :)

    Trouble is it is hard to find a good partner that takes the game as serious as you do.
     
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  17. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I have noticed the how shots are low and constantly skim the net. Even heavy topspin shots are hit short to dip at the feet. Nothing is high to drive on vollies, even passing shots. It seems much more desirable to keep the ball low than to hit deep (except in obvious situations). It is such a difference from watching the strokes in singles that go over the net by 3-6 feet.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good observation on the how ball !!
    All good players can crush high volleys into your partners ankles. So we try not to feed those tigers.
    But surprisingly, I've seen some rusty 4.5 Women who can hit long when called for, then really low skimmer angles in doubles. And, they can volley for real, return most any reachable serve, but alas, serve like ElenaDementieva.
     
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  19. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    This is because both Serena and Venus are so dominant at the baseline, there is no reason for both of them to be at the net. The one up and one back strategy works for them well because the net person puts the pressure on the opponent to play it safe crosscourt, which plays right into the hands of the sisters, who are the best baseliners in the game.
     
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  20. EikelBeiter

    EikelBeiter Professional

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    1. High percentage of first serve, it is probably better to serve 80-90% in as opposed to going all out the first serve

    2. When in control and at the net, they are very close to the net. Amateurs tend to stay stay a little too far from the net sometimes.

    3. Leander Paes hits his volleys sometimes harder than some most people smash :)

    4. When they poach, they move to the side as well as closer to the net, us amateurs often only move sideways, which limits the reach and makes the volley harder.

    5. I have noticed in a few matches that the person at the net, when the other team is serving, stands rather close to the net. I normally stand on the service line so i can intercept the volley when the return of my partner is not good enough. I think they figure if the return of my partner isn't good enough, they are going to kill the volley anyway, so i might as well move a bit closer to the net.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good stuff, Eikel....
    Unfortunately, most of your observations just don't apply to 4.5 and under tennis.
    We just can't get back to cover overheads that land 3' inside the baseline. We can lob them back, but not put away the overhead.
    We seem to mishit volley putaways rather than hit like Leander.
    That's why we don't close in too far.
    And when our partners are receiving serve, we tend to stay at the service line to help defensive tennis off the partners usually weak return.
    Even when our partners ARE serving, their puffball serves are easy to lob down the line, so we gotta cover that while are just served partner is stumbling around in no man's land.
     
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  22. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    Concerning the Williams sisters one up one back. Besides the obvious strength of their ground game, the weekness of their mid court game may also be a consideration IMHO. In so much of the womens singles game contact is made well above the waist if you don't have a decent mid court game in which you can't effectively hit below your waist (both receiving shots and hitting shots that stay low),your closing the net can be a liability.

    IMHO Because of the improvements in the mens service and return game more emphasis is placed on serving big and elicit a weak return rather than a serve that gives you time to get in.

    Big time movement from server's netman at the start of the point again to nutralize the return. BB I know you started the thread as it relates to AO, but in last years USO Bjorkman was all over the place and not only on the ad court service. I remember seeing him in Aussi position, middle, middle+ in just one service game of Ullyett's
     
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  23. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Actually there is a lot to learn. For those things that can, it is a matter of practice to get it to apply.
     
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  24. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    The only reason I stand at the service line is so I can still make fair calls on my opponents serves. If I was important enough to have linesmen calling my matches I'd be all over the net from the very first shot.
     
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  25. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    4- The receiver's partner concentrates more on the opposing netman's action than the return itself.

    Lucky R
    Yes, one option is for the receivers partner to key his initial move to what the returners netman does. You should be able to get most of the information you need by how he reacts. At our level: if his racquet goes up and back -guess what's comming, if he moves to poach - defend your territory, if he doesn't move a musscle and the ball blurrs between you and him - move toward your most advantageous net position to deal with the response to your partners return. And as posted before, your first priority is to deal with your partners weakest reply then his strongest in that order ortherwise known as; defend the position, attack the ball.
     
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  26. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, the linesman is there for those pro games, so no need to be on the service line calling it in or out.

    In fact, I have moved forward of the service line because it really is my partners call.
     
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  27. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Really? I was always taught that the service line was the net man's call and the sideline was the receiver's responsibility. I would think that it's probably easier to see it from the side than when it's whizzing straight at you.
     
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  28. W Cats

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    The only reason I stand at the service line is so I can still make fair calls on my opponents serves. If I was important enough to have linesmen calling my matches I'd be all over the net from the very first shot.


    And this would leave a highway to hit the highest percentage winner in doubles (yeah, I just made that up) an easy volley behind you and between your partner or a volley in your lap from the other netman if your partner's reply is weak.
     
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  29. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    That is what has circled around and around. That is until we realize that the returner calls the serve in or out in singles, so why not doubles? Did the returner all of a sudden lose his judgement?

    Perhaps one could argue it is because the return of serve in doubles is more difficult or that there is more pressure on the returner so it gives him one less thing to think about. Or even still, "two heads are better than one" for calling serves in or out.

    Whether you want to play that way, there is nothing wrong with it. I usually check with my partner and ask him to call the serves, I will move up into a more aggressive volley position.
     
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  30. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Yeah, I always have time to get back to the net before the next shot after the return. My partner has a very solid return of serve.
     
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  31. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    True, but since the netman only has to call one line (the service line) at least 80% of the serves are not within a ball diameter of the line so he can look away before the return is even struck the majority of the time.
     
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  32. Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket Hall of Fame

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    I think the most important thing I have learned as far as doubles go and something that is also evident from watching these professional matches, is that you can still be a tremendous doubles player and be on the winning side of the net, even if the opposing team has better volleys than you or your team.

    This is especially evident from the Serena and Venus matches and it is the fact that if you have the most consistently aggressive serve as well as return, you're probably going to win. Nothing is proving to be more crucial than these two shots in doubles, probably at any level.

    If you're getting weak returns from opponents, you don't need to be a great volleyer to be effective. If you're hitting great returns, it doesn't matter if your opponents are great volleyers. If you have a great serve, well, you're going to hold serve and in-turn put tremendous pressure on the weaker serves of your opponents. Consistently as well as aggression is equally important.

    I think if your team has great serves and great returns, everything else is less important, and you can afford a tad bit of flubbed volleys and faulty teamwork.

    With that said, I am not advocating everyone blows off every other shot and doubles tactics. I don't mean to understate the importance of being able to volley (or serve & volley) and play as a team, I just don't think this is a must-have to be successful, regardless of level.
     
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  33. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    Quote:
    I whole heartedly agree. The 3 most important shots in doubles are; Serve, Return, and Volleys - in that order. Sometimes in high school tennis if a team has a drought in talent, it can be more efficient to beef up on the doubles teams rather than singles because there are fewer strokes and shots to master.
     
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  34. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Ummmm, dont know what you are getting at. Looking away, having the returner call the serve, netman back calling the serve, is there something I missed?

    I think I mentioned a team can have the netman back or more forward depending on what they want to do. It is not a written rule that the netman has to be back to call the service line.

    And this "only call one line" can be debatable especially if the server hits a wide serve which causes the returner to take his eyes off the call on whether it is in or out. Please tell me you haven't been in that situation.

    And looking away before the return is struck is a bit decieving. That would depend on the pace of the serve and that he has a fraction of a second to do so.
     
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  35. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I stay at the service line to have some extra time in case the other netman poaches. I do not call the serves because I am focused on the other netman. If you play against better players, you will get hit by the ball as you turn to look at that serve.
     
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  36. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Yes, of course. Pablo Cuevas and Luis Horna have won a slam in doubles and qualified for the year end championships with their massive groundies. The Williams sisters are essentially two singles players who just happen to be playing doubles at times. They have great serves and overpowering ground strokes, which is good enough to beat most teams. But they're far from the best in the doubles game. The best doubles players have much more complete games.
     
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  37. EikelBeiter

    EikelBeiter Professional

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    The reason i used to stand around the service line when my partner returns, is if the return is not good enough i still have a stance to get the ball. But as we get better, the opponents also gets better, and when your partner hits a weak return which the other side can easily poach or put away, your chances of getting it back are very slim even if you stand on the service line. Therefore i think when the playing level gets higher you might as well move up closer to the net, and then when your partner hits a good return, you are close to the net allready and have a better chance of winning the point.
     
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  38. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Yeah, that way you can just blame your partner for hitting such a crummy return. It IS always our partner's fault, after all.
     
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  39. EikelBeiter

    EikelBeiter Professional

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    Well if he hits a crummy return and some guys hits a put away volley on my feet and I miss the ball.... then it is still my partners fault yes, or maybe a very good serve. But that is not the point really. The point is if the return is good, you have a better chance of winning the point since you are allready at the net. If the return is bad, you pretty much allready lost the point once you get to a certain level.
     
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  40. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    1. Size isn't everything in doubles, Fish & Isner. Big booming serve but low volleys will always be a problem.

    2. Movement, situational awareness like what the Bryans have really all important.

    3. Touch n feel at the net is more important than ground strokes, Leander Paes cross court volleys n drop shots.

    mawashi
     
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  41. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    That is fine Nellie, I am not saying it is wrong to do so. I am saying that you do have a choice to do it or not.

    A lot of doubles players think that is something they have to do. It is not.

    Because I dont have a set partner, I often ask my partner what he prefers.

    I personally prefer not to call the line so I can be in better position and put more attention on the opposing netman in case he makes a move. Because I am a step or two up, I feel I am in better position to take on a poacher.

    That is all it is.
     
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  42. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    BB - I was just trying to agree with you about the receiver should make the service call, even if I am standing right on that service line and could have a great look at the ball.

    What really gets my goat is that I will move up to the net on the wierd occassions when the the serving team plays 2 back (like when my partner is ripping return winners), but my partner gets ticked off that I am not calling the serve.
     
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  43. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    One of the things I noticed is how involved a player is in the point when they are NOT hitting the ball. In other words, two players could be engaged in the rally and I am watching the players that are not hitting the ball.

    I notice them inching over or moving to a position that will help their situation or partner. They are not just standing there watching the rally.

    These are some of the things you guys can take back to the court.
    1. Get more involved in the point even though you are not hitting the ball.

    2. Positioning is very important.

    3. Practice your up the T serve. Work on that half of the court. Just being able to hit your first serve in that half means a lot for play calling.

    4. You do not have to hit hard.

    5. Communication is very important.

    6. Letting your partner know what you intend to do at the net is important.

    7. If you play in a one-up/two-back formation understand its strengths and weaknesses.

    8. Keep moving.

    9. When returning serve, it is important to put it in play. Maybe use the BOX-TO-BOX thinking I talk about sometimes.

    10. Good volleying is without question an important stroke to practice and master.

    11. It is okay to hit out wide on the serve on occasion. Just make sure your partner knows you are doing so and the strengths and weaknesses of doing it.

    12. Stay positive with your partner. Dont get down on them. Always high-five on a missed opportunity. It helps your partner shake it off. Everyone needs encouragement or to a receive a feeling of acceptance when they fail. Being that for your partner is huge!

    13. If you get a ball that should be put away, put it away! Dont tap it back allowing your opponents a chance to hit the ball again. This is something I see all the time in club doubles. Balls that are easy putaways dont get put away. This gives the opponents a chance to win the point and many times they end up winning the point!

    The next time you are at a match or watching a match, pay attention to the things that are not obvious. Like the person not hitting the ball. Their footwork. So much of what we see is the person hitting the ball and the upper half their body executing the stroke. Watch the other stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
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  44. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, that is why I ask my partner what he prefers. He is the returner and has more pressure on him than I do at the net (at least for the returner of serve).
     
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  45. W Cats

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    One of the things I noticed is how involved a player is in the point when they are NOT hitting the ball. In other words, two players could be engaged in the rally and I am watching the players that are not hitting the ball.

    I notice them inching over or moving to a position that will help their situation or partner. They are not just standing there watching the rally.

    These are some of the things you guys can take back to the court.
    1. Get more involved in the point even though you are not hitting the ball.

    All great stuff BB.

    Your points are in line with someone who I highly respect in the area of the doubles game - Pete Collins.

    Pete refers to the non-hitter as the "Pivotal Player"

    Pete I believe is the head pro at Augusta and has put on workshops internationally on doubles play. His materials are called Succesful Doubles. I found him on the Texas High School Tennis coaches website where he put on a clinic for them. I believe that for 3.0-4.5 players your doubles game will improve significantly without any changes to your strokes just by understanding and applying his approach.

    I have a few of his DVD's and they are worth their weight in gold.

    Yes I know this sounds like a shamless plug but honestly I've never even talked to or have met the man. I just appreciate what he has to offer.

    Gary
     
    #45
  46. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    No, that is great! Plug not taken. :)

    Do we sell the videos here? And I really like the "Pivotal Player" words. That is outstanding and a great way for doubles players to conceptually visualize the involvement they need to have when they are not hitting the ball.

    Hope he doesnt mind I borrow the phrase! Thanks.
     
    #46
  47. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    #47
  48. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Thanks for all the great advice, BB. I will do this the next time I watch some matches. I would say that my biggest weakness in doubles is my movement when I'm not the one doing the hitting. Or as my dad would say about basketball, "moving without the ball". I'm not good at recognizing when my partner is pulled off the court and end up just standing there like a statue like John Isner the other night. I've got a lot to work on and I'll be sure to take all your advice very seriously the next time I play. In fact, I'll probably print this post out right now to help me get it into my thick head.

    Thanks again for the help. I really appreciate it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
    #48
  49. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    You are welcome. I like what your dad said "moving without the ball." Players will gain a deeper appreciation of doubles if they watch the not-so obvious. It is there I believe a lot of learning takes place.
     
    #49
  50. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    #50

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