Clay court doubles

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Chelsie1, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. Chelsie1

    Chelsie1 Rookie

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    How do you defend against a drop shot return of serve to the deuce side on a clay court in doubles? We played a team where the deuce court receiver had an excellent drop and even when we knew it was coming, the server couldn't get to it. I've been told the server's partner (me) has to be able to recognize and cut off the drop shot. Following the serve is not always feasible given our age. I've also thought about having the server's partner (me!) stand on the middle service line. I've seen that a solid serve makes it harder, but not impossible, to drop. I have a pretty good drop shot and I know it's real easy when the server hits soft, short, and stays back. What say you all? Thanks.
     
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  2. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Well, there's your partner's serve issues. But for what you can control, moving to the middle is a good idea. Planed poaches from the normal position or the middle are a good idea and should result in an easy put away. Fake poaches are a good idea. Mainly, add some variety in your positioning and movement and keep the returner worrying about what you are doing.
     
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  3. lostinamerica

    lostinamerica Semi-Pro

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    We serve and volley so a drop shot return is not terribly effective. We S&V in doubles regardless of surface. Admittedly, we play less on clay than hard courts but when we do, our doubles tactics do not really change.
     
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  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    In addition to what NBL said . . .

    If server can S&V, she can take off pace to give herself time to move up.

    Also, line up Aussie. Perhaps the opponent would have more trouble changing direction on the dropper.

    Planned poaches are probably the first thing to try, though.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Server should vary the serve speed and spin, bounce height and depth.
    If you know they're going to dropshot, where should server go after serving?
     
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  6. Chelsie1

    Chelsie1 Rookie

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    Unfortunately, the server cannot make it there in time...But yes the serve was predictable so we'll work on that.
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Obviously the server cannot get there, if he serves and then stands there awaiting a deep return.
    After ONE dropshot, any decently intelligent server should take two steps IN, ready to move forwards.
    YOU, at the net, cannot take responsibility for weak serves from your partner.
     
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  8. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Same thing it happened to us, two nights ago in the first inter-club match and we went down 0-5 in the first set.

    I've been telling my partner to move up to the net, etc Tried some poaching, including some fake ones and so forth, like people suggest here.

    Eventually we warmed up and made a come-back and although we still lost the first set 3-6, won the second one 6-1 and the TB 13-11.

    He probably varied his serve a bit and managed to come faster to the net(and also be able to back paddle if need be), but overall, we just put more pressure on them and they lost their touch. Still the warming up/finding our shots was the deciding factor, i.e. I've hit my strongest FH at the end of the second set...

    Personally I'd just improve the serve (as I never had that problem against my own serve).

    GL!
     
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  9. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    If the server is tossing up weak serves that get dropped, the returner would mostly likely crush the same weak serve down the ad side to the server's left.

    Weak servers and Aussie formation = an average returner's paradise. For a great returner, you just gave up the point before the serve was struck. :( terrible plan IMO -

    Maybe you meant I-Formation which makes much more sense-- I forces the server to make a signaled call- left,right or stay- the returner then has to pick crosscourt, up the middle or down the line- whether it is a lob or groundstroke

    Aussie and I Formation are completely different

    Aussie is designed for the specific purpose to stop a devastating cross court return- Aussie is not the solution to a drop shot from a returner.
     
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  10. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I guess I don't get the dilemma. I can't think of a better setup for covering dropshots than a return of serve in doubles hit to the deuce side of the server's court (from the deuce side of the returner's court).

    1- The server is likely standing inside the baseline from having just hit the serve

    2- The server's momentum is forward, unlike it would be having just hit a groundstroke for example

    3- The server's netman can retrieve the dropper with their FH

    So I would ask a countering question: how does this server retrieve dropshots in the middle of a rally when they play singles?
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I know the difference.

    What can I say? There are people who can drop well in one direction but will miss in another direction. And some net players are bad at I formation but can handle Aussie.

    Aussie is designed to stop a good cross court return. It has other uses also. It is good if the net player has trouble with BH volley. It makes players hit over the highest part of the net. It can make it easier to serve up the middle and reach the FH or BH as needed.

    Trying Aussie is better than trying nothing.
     
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  12. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    I and the 4.5 buddy of mine reading this thread with me, would much prefer seeing Aussie formation any day than the normal doubles setup or I-Form when a server is tossing weak serves. The server would be running to the baseline alley to dig for every return -

    And yes, Aussie is great at preventing a crosscourt lob, but that isn't the problem for the OP. The problem is the server has a weak serve and they are slow.
    In the OP's situation, they didn't indicate that a drop shot is the only return the returner could hit, simply that the returner was dropping the serves.

    If she opens up the court in Aussie and leaves that entire side open, then the serve tosses up some weak serve, the point should be the returners. It is simple to send a weak serve over an open net in front of the return. This a poor plan for the OP's problem IMO. I stand by my opinion, that Aussie Formation is a bad choice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
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  13. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I assume this is against a second serve?

    If it happens consistently against a first service then it seems the level difference between the players is too much.

    If it happens consistently against a second service perhaps the server should take some more risk against this particular player.

    But I think it is mostly a serving issue.
     
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  14. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    If you are playing 4.5 men's, then I agree with you.

    OP did not state the level, but I doubt we are talking 4.5.

    You can see players hitting drop returns at 3.0 and 3.5. Server doesn't have the variety or skill to serve better and lacks the transition game to deal with the drops. Net player is not comfortable with I or planned poaches.

    Then what?

    I have seen Aussie work in situations at lower levels when it should be suicide.
     
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  15. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Cindy,

    at 3.0 or 3.5, any returner should be able to direct a soft serve into an open court.

    Let the OP try your solution in a practice match and my solution - that will provide the OP the solution to her original question.
     
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  16. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    I am not trying to bash OP, but.....
    The answer is for the server's partner to pay attention and cross on the drop shot return!

    OP said he/she knew it was coming and still could not get to it? If you see it coming and are 2/3 steps off the net in the middle of the box, you can practically WALK to the opposite alley and get there in time.

    I can see the problem if you are playing two back.

    sorry if I seem condescending, I'm an old guy with bad knees myself, but the answer seems to be, take off for the opposite side (i.e., poach) the minute you see the drop return being indicated by the position of the returner's take back.
     
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  17. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Buddy it doesn't have to be a drop shot return: i.e. what was killing us for almost a set Tuesday was an acute, angled, short, low return when my partner was serving.

    He was way too slow to get to it and I didn't feel comfortable going all the way to his side, b/c he wouldn't have defended DTL either...

    I didn't have the same problem (as I was serving harder and better placed) and eventually he started to be able to move up and down the court with more ease and we won 3-6 6-1 13-11 (TB).
     
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  18. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Drop return and "acute, angled, short, low" return are two completely unrelated things. True they are both short, but that's about it.

    It depends on how acute and angled the shots are. If they are much shorter than the service line, they are ungettable. They are part of the triangle that you give to the other team. All you can do is hope that they miss the shot (it is a low to moderate percentage shot depending on the quality of the serve.

    If it is gettable, then the server needs to line up wide and S&V, then they can get the shot. The netman has no chance for that kind of shot (unlike the OP's topic of a drop shot).
     
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  19. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    ..........
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Personally, I think it's the server's responsibility to mix up his serves, pace, spin, and location. Then, server has to take 2 steps inside his baseline to cover the return that is most often hit. He can always volley a deep return.
    Netperson should not cross, because if the ball lands service line deep, crossing netperson is retreating backwards, and both guys are next to each other. It's the server's responsibility to serve better and cover drop shots.
     
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  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Really? At 3.0 and 3.5? How long has it been since you've played 3.0 and 3.5?

    I guess you can take my word for it, or not. I can tell you that Aussie works in situations in which it should be suicide, and it worked especially well at 3.0 and 3.5. Some folks don't understand what it is. Some folks will worry that the formation means a poach is coming. Some folks will play two back immediately when faced with Aussie. None of this makes sense, but at 3.0 and 3.5 Aussie can trigger some real freakouts.

    Say the deuce returner has been hitting FH Xcourt drop shot returns and killing the server. Say the serving team lines up Aussie. You are right that this should not work.

    But the Aussie formation would allow the server to line up near the hash and serve straight ahead -- to the BH. Returner has to do some footwork to run around the BH and hit a change of direction FH drop, or returner has to hit a BH change of direction drop. Can returner do these things? You'll never know if you don't try.

    I do agree with you and others that there are other things that should be tried first (serving better, S&V, planned poaches). Just don't forget about Aussie.
     
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  22. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    My record at 3.5 this year is 23-2 Cindy
     
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  23. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Cindy,

    Every 3.0 woman on the mixed 7.0 team I play on can hit into into an open court at will off of a soft weak serve which is exactly what the OP is describing

    Our 3.0 women get no slack from the four 4.0 men on our team (two of which will most likely be bumped to 4.5 as they played up and won more than 65% of their 4.5 doubles matches) - and yes these women get the 100-110 mph serves from the 4.0 men on our team for practice .

    Hitting into an open court from a soft serve isn't something special like you make out Cindy. I have played 7.0 mixed with 3.0 women last year and won matches with a 3.0 against a 4.0/3.0 and 3.5/3.5 combo

    If a women were serving weak serves to my partner and a 4.0 guy lined Aussie, my partner would pass both of them down the open court without hesitation. She wouldn't ask what to do. She would just do it. ;)
     
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  24. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, OK.

    It sounds like the 3.0 women on your mixed team are a good deal more solid than those on my teams over the years (or myself, when I was 2.5-3.5 over about a six year period). I can't think of anyone who could hit consistent drop shot returns with change of direction off of FH and BH.

    Dang. I just learned to hit drop shot returns off of FH and BH this year, at 4.0. I guess I am a slow learner!
     
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  25. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Cindy,

    I never wrote these 3.0 women or men are dropping the weak serve that the OP has described - they would simply redirect a weak serve to an open court (preferred deep to the baseline near the alley.
    As opposed to I formation- the server's partner moves

    I am simply telling you if a 3.0 woman playing on the deuce side with me see a 4,0 guy line up Aussie, my partner is hitting a groundstroke deep into the open court just vacated by the 4.0 guy as he lineup up in Aussie -

    You have the misconception the the OP's opponent must hit a drop shot in the return - the OP never wrote that-

    And yes, the 3.0 women on my mixed team have been to state several times with the 4.0 men they play with - one was a 3.0 last year and was dominate- she was bumped and also played 4.0 this year at 18+ and 40+ and she will be bumped.

    These 3.0 women are playing against 4.0 men in 7.0 mixed and it does make them better- that team is 15-0 in regular season matches since last summer. The 4.0 captain played everyone in the local playoffs last year after he knew the team was secured a SC state playoff spot -
     
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  26. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    But . . . Yes, he wrote exactly that.

    OP asked how to deal with drop shot returns when server couldn't reach them.

    If that is the situation, if serving team then lined up Aussie, and returner reacted by hitting deep DTL returns, then I would say Mission Accomplished. The Aussie formation would have achieved its purpose of causing the returning team to do something different -- thereby abandoning a winning tactic.

    That doesn't mean the serving team will win the game. The server would have to serve, then cross to the ad side and hit a BH. This might work perfectly well, or not. It probably won't be worse than losing point after point because of unplayed drop shot returns.
     
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  27. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    No the OP did not

    The OP asked specifically about drops shot returns to the deuce court.

    Here is the OP's original post -

    Your Aussie plan would be picked apart by 3.0s and up like I have told you many times.

    Groundstroke to the open court - point over .
     
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  28. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    "Buddy it doesn't have to be a drop shot return: i.e. what was killing us for almost a set Tuesday was an acute, angled, short, low return when my partner was serving."

    I must have misread the OP. I could have sworn the words "drop shot" or "drop" were used no less than 5 times in the original post. sorry.
     
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  29. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    #29
  30. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    Kind of skimmed this so apologies if I missed it but try mixing things up, where you serve to, using the I formation etc
     
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  31. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Thanks that's what I thought and as we progressed we dealt better with those, but not the netman (me).
     
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  32. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    Just so you know... It is possible to poach out of an Aussie formation just like you can in a normal one. I'd be willing to bet I could confuse the heck out of your 3.0 lady and probably peg you a few times :)
     
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  33. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    I am sure you could if my partner couldn't hit a soft serve - That isn't my point. But I guarantee you I would repay you 3x over- once you hit me once-

    The OP has a problem- weak serve, drop return deuce court - my solution to the OP's problem is I formation

    Cindy's says Aussie-

    What's your solution to the OP's problem ?
     
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  34. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I give up.

    I honestly don't understand what you are saying, g4driver. I could have sworn we were talking about how to respond to a returner who hits drop shot returns to the deuce court. But then you suggest OP is saying nothing of the sort.

    I have a weird feeling I am missing something or having a reading comprehension problem, so I'll bow out.

    But remember, I said Aussie IN ADDITION TO the other strategies suggested. The other strategies would be better choices if the serving team can execute them, but Aussie should not be off the table.

    Good luck, OP.
     
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  35. Chelsie1

    Chelsie1 Rookie

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    Thank you very much!

    You've given us much to think about and work on.

    We're talking about a strong 4.0 woman-doubles only, with a decent-I wouldn't really say weak- but predictable serve on that particular occassion, but who, like me, is not as fast as she used to be. The deuce returner was a lefty with an "EXCELLENT" fh and bh drop shot that consistently landed 1-2 (OMGoodness!)yards from the net, but that was not the only shot she could hit. It was definitely working that day. We've decided to focus on mixing up and delivering better 1st serves and following them in. And putting more air under the serve in order to get in. I'll try to see if I can detect a drop shot, but if I leave too soon I leave my alley open. But like someone suggested, I might be too close to the net. If it gets real bad I may get in the middle. (Isn't that part of the fun--trying to figure it out!?)
    On another note, I, too, get real excited when my opponents play Aussie
    to counter my crosscourt return from the deuce side There are just so many options: hit the netman, drive deep/ slice midway/ or drop DTL=Gold.

    Thanks again! Much appreciated.
     
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