Doubles Question regarding LOBS and Court Position

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by smoothtennis, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    When the opposing team has a 'two up' formation on you, and you lob over their heads to the baseline, what is the best position to take for your team, or what have you had the most success with?

    I have had one guy play back, and one guy take the net in this situation and it's been successful most of the time. But is this the best tactical position against a really good team 4.5 level?
     
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  2. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Some will tell you that both should retreat in the situation you described while other will advocate one staying up and hopefully the returner will be able to re-lob your opponents and regain position.

    The "up" player, in the situation where one doesn't give ground, should make sure he doesn't limit the partners choice of shots as he get the lob - in other words don't get/stay in the way. If you prefer to stay "up", fine, just move a step or two to the alley or crouch. If your partner is returning a ball over your head (which you should have probably gotten yourself) reposition yourself to the other side of the court maybe a half-step behind the service line, but again, stay out of the way.

    If you decide to retreat along with your partner, don't go all the way back unless he sends up a lame duck. Stay around the baseline and work on regaining position. Nothing quite like being in close as your opposition is delivered a juicy overhead - some of those shots really sting.
     
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  3. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    papa good advice BUT i think the op is lobbing the 2 up guys and hes wondering what does his team do. thats how i read it.ICBW So... if your lob is a good one and they have to turn their back to retreive it both of you take the net (service line since you may get a lob back). if not keep your position and see what type of overhead you get and play the point out from there.
     
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  4. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    If it was a good enough lob to force at least one player off the net to cover the lob I would advocate a one up one half position. The one up should assume the ball half of the court while his/her partner is just a step or two behind the T and opposite of the netman position. In other words if the lob went deep into opponents ad court your netmant should take up a regular net position on your duce service box and look to put away a weak reply to your lob. While you, the initial lobber would take up a position a step or two behind and to the left (toward the ad court) of the T where you could run down another lob with ease or cover a possible crosscourt reply.
     
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  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I think that if you lob well enough to make someone turn and run down the lob, you and your partner should both go to the service line. In this way, only a perfect lob will get over you, yet you are in position to close the net if the reply is a groundstroke.

    When I have to turn and run down a lob, I love it if one opponent stays back. 'Cause that is where I am going to steer my shot to get back in the point.
     
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  6. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    As LeeD would say it depends. lol.

    It depends largely on how good your lob is (you've said you got it over their heads to the baseline, but how time does it take? the shorter the better) and how good your opponents (in relation to the lob) are. If they really struggle to get to the lob, close in as much as possible and stop before they start to hit. If they can comfortably run down your lob, I would be careful because I don't know if I would get a driving groundstroke or a OH. Am I missing anything?
     
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  7. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    I am with Cindy on this one. If your team gets a lob over the heads of your 2 opponent’s head, you need to move in to a bit inside the service line IMHO. Exactly where is determined by how well you close to put away a weak shot, how good your overhead is and how good your lob was. From here, you can close and angle off a very weak shot. The majority of the time you will get an overhead where you can end the point now or on the next shot (you said 4.5 play here). In the unlikely event they hit a good lob, most at the 4.5 level will still take it in the air unless it lands on the baseline (and I would argue you are always better off hitting it out of the air because if you let it bounce and/or let it get behind you, your opponents will certainly be moving in). In this situation, the percentages are clearly in your favor and you should and will win the majority of points if you get a good lob over their heads and it bounces before they hit it.

    You are giving up critical court position by staying at the baseline after a good lob and not following it in. By not coming in, you are letting them off the hook and they will probably notice you didn’t come in behind it before hitting the shot (again, most 4.5+ players will notice this, I would). If you don’t come in they can float or push a shot deep without you having an opportunity to put away that floating shot, taking the pressure off them. This means all they have to do is get the shot back deep anyway they can and they are back to at worst a neutral position in the point. But if you do come in, you eliminate that just float it back and stay in the point shot as you can close on it and put it away. By coming in they now only have 3 options: one, go for a go-for-broke shot (very low percentage), two if they are smart, roll it to your feet and hope you get lazy and float the volley which they can now come in and thump (my first choice if I can get back to the ball in time) or three, hit a defensive lob and hope to get it deep because if they don’t, you should have an easy volley or overhead (higher percentage and possibly your only option if it was a good lob).

    Not coming in makes no sense to me. You gained the advantage in the point with a good lob. Don’t waste it. Also keep in mind that the lower the level of play, the more likely you will get an easy overhead or weak reply you can close on and angle off if they get it in play at all.

    Good tennis

    TM
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
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  8. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I love it when one or more of the lobbers stands near the svc line in no-man's so I get to pretend they are a big orange cone used in practice and blast my overhead smash (or big Fh) right at the target. Thank goodness for doubles players who like to return from no-mans land, as they always give you a nice target.

    One or both should come all the way to net. One can stay back if you are not inclined to chase if the lob is returned as a lob.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
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  9. GuyClinch

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    I think Cindy is right. I have heard that in doubles you should act like their is some invisible string tying you together (but you have to keep this string tight.) So thus you should move right and left together - and back and forward - and so on.

    Pete
     
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  10. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, wouldn't you think that if you lobed your opponents that it might be prudent for the diagonal player (whichever one of you that is diagonal to the player taking the lob assuming he is running back to get it) to close on net favoring the middle. I mean, once your opponent is lobed your in an aggressive offensive mode. Unless your re-lobed the up-front player is in an excellent position to get a put-away shot.
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Strongly disagree, sorry.

    If you are *running with your back to the net*, you are not going to drive the ball at my feet if I am standing on the service line *when you hit your shot.* Once I see you aren't lobbing, I will close a few steps and can handle your groundstroke. Remember, we are talking about a lob that got over both opponents and bounced, touching off a mad defensive scramble.

    The worst outcome for me is that you get a lob over our heads. By being at the service line, we ought to be able to make sure that doesn't happen. Closing the net too much increases the chance that your return lob will touch off a defensive scramble for us.

    Coming "all the way to net" is a bad idea in this situation because it is unnecessary. As I said, you can close once the weak groundie is on its way to you. Also, your partner should not be a spectator at the baseline and should be coming to net. When both players are at net, you don't want them "all the way to net"; you want them staggered a bit. IMHO.

    Cindy -- who wants to throttle partners who won't come from baseline to net when they see an opponent's ponytail swinging as she runs down a lob
     
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  12. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    cindysphinx merrychristmas, the lessons and work are paying off, keep it up . the fprce is with you . trust your instincts.
     
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  13. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    Almost everything depends on the quality of the lob, the degree of communication between the two players and their overall skill. Having the ability to react in a variety of ways, rather than one rigid strategy, will win you more points.

    If you hit a defensive lob and, especially, if it is short, it is no advantage to be at the net. The instant the lobber knows his lob is going to be a problem, he/she should alert the partner to get back.

    If you hit an offensive lob that makes them scramble- then you are likely to get a relatively weak response- a defensive lob back, or some weak stab at a ground stroke- In either case you should be prepared to move either forward to dispose of a weak sitter, or back to deal with the defensive lob.
     
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  14. brad1730

    brad1730 Rookie

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    I think the lob returner has a 4 choices 1) lob back, 2) regular rally ball return, 3) go for a fh/bh winner or 4) hit an overhead with either speed or an angle.

    I don't think a 4.5 level player will choose to lob the return unless the player is really under pressure. Most players of any ability won't go for the fh/bh winner off a lob. That leaves a regular rally ball return or the overhead.

    Personally, I like it when 1 person is at the net and 1 person is back. The net person can take away at least 1 angle of the overhead and possibly poach a regular rally ball. The back person should be able to handle the rest.
     
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  15. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    ^OP said you got the lob over their heads to the baseline.

    There is not much chance of a good overhead. One player would have to turn, outrun the lob, and then get under it and set up for an overhead. Assuming we're not talking about a lob that went to Mars, that isn't going to happen.

    If, however, the lob was ridiculously high and the opponent can run back and set up for an overhead, then I would start backpedaling off of the service line to play the smash. You'd have plenty of time in that scenario.
     
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  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Read the OP again.

    You are describing nice 3.5 ladies play, but OP is speaking of a really good 4.5 men's. There is Nothing about sending them scrambling, but simply a lob over the net players, which often leads to a overhead smash at really good 4.5 men's or at min a big Fh that won't allow you more than one step towards the net. Nothing in this implies just because a lob is back close to the baseline that I will need to scramble and if I have to hustle, my "Bucharest Backfire" will work 80% in these cases. This is not theory for me, as I have played this level and above for years and enjoy the few at that level who will make themselves a target as you suggest. Occasionally I run across a player with real good hands who tries your method, but he finds out pretty quickly that good overheads trump good hands a big majority of times. I actually played several matches with a partner like that last season and he got hammered by smashes (which he could rarely handle) each match till he asked why they always smashed at him?? I explained it was because of his positioning and when he started getting further back, everything changed. Both of us started getting the smashes and had a chance to handle them. The biggest difference is many more smashes were missed without him giving them such a good target, "Him".

    Honestly unless you hit that 1-2 out of 10 really "more lucky than good" lobs, it doesn't matter too much where you are, if you lob you will lose the point with good 4.5 Men, if not off the smash, then off the weak reply it gets. Most lobs don't even get to bounce before they get smashed; even if they do go over the net man's head.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
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  17. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    If you have another team on the defensive, you should both take the net - with one staying slightly further back (around the service line) to cover the counter lob. That's how a high level team would play.

    ^^^ if you are a "4.5" than you should easily volley that overhead/grounds stroke from the baseline, even if it is blasted
     
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  18. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    @ 5263

    it clearly states in the OP that the ball made it to the baseline so your last post is void. I'm sure that smoothtennis is not moving up on lobs that are being smashed, so the question is about when the lob gets over the player and beyond the baseline.

    @ the OP
    Two up would be best, preferably in a stagger formation having the player closer to the ball closer to the net and their partner (c/c) is slightly further back anticipating the returned defensive lob

    EDIT: I agree with Nellie ^^^
     
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  19. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting POV. Wonder why it is called no-mans land if you can "Easily" play some of the most offensive shots from there??
     
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  20. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    No,
    it clearly says to the BL, which is where serves come from and NOT beyond the baseline. You want to return serves standing on the svc line?? You have to know where you are going before you know what kind of return he will hit.

    As for getting to and hitting overheads, I can usually judge it by what I can get to. If I can't get it, it is usually just out. If I can get to it for the smash, it is usually going to fall in. Sometimes I still get the smash on balls my partner thinks may have even been out or past the BL, SO being at or just beyond the BL has little to do with this. I'm beginning to see that you guys are not facing players with much of an overhead or very big Fhs. Maybe 4.5 is just much weaker in your areas. It's called no man's land for a reason, as it a place that you should never pick to face an offensive shot from, as it is just foolish against a strong 4.5 player. Hey, but I love playing you guys who choose to do it that way, so keep it up.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
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  21. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    My take on the OP is that "over their heads" means they have to bounce the lob and it will bounce close to the baseline. So, I'm thinking no overheads out of the air. Of course, that leaves overheads off of a bounce. I don't like to go to the net to handle an overhead from a well setup smasher. (But you'll know how ahead of time if they'll have the time get off a killer smash.)

    I'm far more willing to confront a forehand at the net.

    The point is, watch your opponents; if they have the time to set up and get off a powerful, offensive shot, don't attack. If not, be at the net.
     
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  22. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    OK, lets pretend that the lob in question is the best lob that has ever been played for a 4.5 in your region and you haven't been able to smash it and you can only track it down and hit it in a defensive manor. What set up would you LEAST like to see your opponents in/what positioning would be most effective against your defensive stroke
     
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  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    5263,

    You seem to be suggested that you and your 4.5 pals can overhead any lob, even a really good one that gets over you, bounces and is near the baseline.

    If so, you should be on tour.

    'Cause I've watched pro men's doubles, and when a good lob gets over both players, they turn and run it down and play whatever shot they can. The player who is not going to play the lob usually retreats to the baseline also.

    And do you know what the other team is doing while this defensive scramble is going on?

    Closing the net.
     
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  24. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Very fair question, to which I would suggest clearly that you would want to have a least one player inside the svc line, close to IVP (ideal volley position) or at it. Whether the other should stay back would tend to be based on known tendencies, like do they lob almost every time or how the initial lobbing team was positioned at the time of the lob, etc....

    If I'm as defensive as you state and chasing a lob, having them both in good volley position would be the toughest to deal with, and would force me to try to reply with a lob that could be short and get crushed. I would need to try to make sure it was well deep, which could lead me to missing long, as I'm in a very defensive position.

    What I have trouble with is when supposed good players choose to position themselves in no-mans land to return any shot in situations where

    a) they don't have to do it for any good reason
    (for instance to serve and volley, you have to, as it is a hazard of the play, requiring a very special serve or awful returner, and partly why it is dying so fast)

    b) they have good legs to move around and cover the court
    (to be a good 4.5, you would expect to have this most times)

    No-mans land is just poor decision for position to choose to receive anything other than a floater, and even that is better taken closer to net.

    **disclaimer is that if you are not mobile for whatever reason, that can be a different story.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
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  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    First, in the OP, There is NO mention of the lob bouncing.

    Second, YES, any of the good, mobile 4.5s can get to most lobs and hit and the overhead.

    Third, is that is exactly what I said from the start, is that you should * Close Net*- not go to No- mans land at the svc line. Even the slower ones tend to get inside the svc line some.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
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  26. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Thank you all so much for all the replies and food for thought. I have been playing quite a few of these lobs all fall. I have a good feel for the shot, so most of the time they have had to let it bounce - this is an OFFENSIVE lob by all means. The partners I play with currently have speed and athletic ability to cover well- so now I have some things to consider.

    Given the type of partners I have, I like the idea of one guy in the IVP, and one staggered back ie, 'California Doubles'. There is merit in many of the comments here that are diverse in the way they would approach this position.

    PS. Cindy - very good reasoning and great advice and you are absolutely right about the speed and flexibility from the service line at least at 4.5.

    ....and no I don't stand at net if a person has a smash opportunity - geez, LOL.
     
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  27. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Nice PC post you make.
    Are you saying that you wouldn't come to net if someone is hitting an ovrhead from the baseline? But would rather stand at the svc line to make this rtn as Cindy suggested?

    Guess I was thrown by, " is this the best tactical position against a really good team 4.5 level?
     
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  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Just to be clear . . .

    I don't think you should close the net (to service line or closer) when anyone is hitting an offensive overhead. Duh.

    I am saying that if a lob goes over the head of a 4.5 player such that he has to turn and run it down, he is not likely to hit an offensive overhead smash as a reply.

    Also, I am not saying Thou Must Always Go To The Service Line in this situation. You can and should adjust depending on what your opponent is doing *and what your partner is doing.* The service line, IMHO, is a good starting point because it protects against the Worst Case Scenario -- a return lob that forces your team off the net.
     
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  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    And here lies the total problem.

    To make it simple, you almost never want to take a position at the svc line if you don't have mobility problems. Most Really Good 4.5 players can move well. The svc line is the worst place of the 3 choices to be when the ball is coming at you, with few exceptions. I really don't even consider it a choice for the most part.

    Of course if age, gender, or injuries slow you down, you must pick your poison in this game, but that is a different subject.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
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  30. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    True, but since the baseline is on the court, the ball hits the court before being contacted. The OP DID mention the ball getting to the baseline.
    You have, intentionally or not, decided to answer a question different than the one that was asked whenever mentioning taking the ball in the air.
     
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  31. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, OK. Please understand that I have *not* said that you must plant your feet on the service line and play the next shot from there no matter what. I am saying that you will adjust based on what is happening.

    I mean, if your mobility is so good, then you could split on the service line and close the net to handle a drive, no? :)

    Anyway, I don't mean to quibble with you over whether the best strategy is to split on the service line or a few feet in front of it. I personally find it easier to move forward to close for a volley than to move back to cover a challenging lob, but that's just me.

    The point is that you need to position to *come in* to a place that will let you cover as much court as possible -- the lob and the drive.
     
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  32. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    So are you trying to say the ball would have to actually touch the BL to meet his question.
    I think it is pretty reasonable to expect that if I hit a overhead on a ball that would have bounced on the baseline or a ball that did actually hit the baseline and bounced up to get hit as an overhead, it would clearly fit his OP.
    These are the most normal ways I would be taking ball in this area. I don't often (as most really good 4.5s) get sent scrambling, just because a lob is hit to this area. Maybe at your level that is how it works, but for good 4.5 players, lobs are not such an emergency as they seem to you.
    Maybe you are right that he meant to describe a ball that can't be hit with an overhead?? He didn't say that and there was no reason to assume that. Does a ball being lobbed over your head while at net, mean that YOU can't go back to hit an overhead?

    It's all just noise anyway, as the only point I'm working at here is that the svc line is a very poor choice regardless.
     
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  33. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    I did clearly say the ball would have to hit the baseline.
    Nowhere did I say or indicate that he meant to describe a ball that can't be hit with an overhead. Just because a ball has bounced, it doesn't mean it can't be hit with an overhead. YOU (to mimic YOU) are the one who has decided that I said an overhead can't be hit off the bounce in this case. If you can find where I said that, quote me.
     
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  34. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    But the OP didn't say that. You are just making noise now, which is fine. I didn't decide you said anything, but only asked you to clarify your unsupported positions and indicated that with 2 question marks.
    Keep playing in no-mans lands and finding excuses why it ok to be there.
    It's your game of course.
     
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  35. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    It's amazing how people can argue over the most ridiculous things.

    The OP threw up an open ended question. There's a ton of variables. Without seeing some sort of video where you can judge and best guess the players' abilities, how can anyone determine anything?
     
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  36. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    I may be wrong, but if a guy is literally at the baseline and is going to hit an overhead - IVP is where I would set up - ie, inside the service line but not right on top of the net.
     
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  37. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Really? I'd much prefer to be back to respond to an OH smash, similar to returning a serve. I don't have enough faith in my hands being good enough to pick off a ball travelling 100 mph or so...I'd much prefer to give up some real estate and let it bounce first.
     
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  38. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    If Lob goes over, then run in to the net, both of you. and stand just inside the service line. If Lob doesn't go over then both of you stand back and hit another lob or if you have time, rip a passing shot up the middle.
     
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  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I was watching some Bryan Bros play on Tennis Channel this weekend, and lo and behold, this exact scenario came up. What are the odds? :)

    Anyway, one twin was at net and the other at baseline. Both opponents wee at net, so Bryan Brothers threw up a lob. It got over both opponents, which touched off a mad defensive scramble. Both opponents went to the baseline. One of them reached the lob and played a groundstroke. What did the Bryan Brothers do when all this was happening?

    Well, I immediately thought of this thread, so I watched the feet of the deep player (in deuce court). He came in and split step *directly on top of the service line.* Once the groundstroke was struck, he closed the net and hit an easy short angled crosscourt volley winner.

    I guess 5263 would have hit an overhead smash had he been dealing with that lob . . . .
     
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  40. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    nice research Cindy
     
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  41. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    In defense of 5263. I think he was only stating his case for really good 4.5 players. LOL
     
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  42. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Couple of important distinctions here...

    First, I think it's a bit of a stretch to assume that even a strong 4.5 player would possess the mid-court skills and hands these boys have.

    Secondly, the Bryans can accurately read the likely response of their opponents when such a lob is put up. If they are reasonably certain the response is going to be a groundstroke and not an OH smash, then the positioning they assumed makes sense. On the other hand, if the opponent's response is an OH smash, I seem to recall seeing them both retreat towards the baseline more often than not....
     
    #42
  43. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    #43
  44. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Right, Leander Paes...pretty good hands too.

    Haven't seen that at the 4.5 level recently. Comments?
     
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  45. W Cats

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    On the first lob L&P gauge that the lob that was put up was shallow and really didn't make any of the bros. scramble, so they retreated to a defensive position.

    Second lob put one up that made one of the bros. scramble so they took up a more offensive position.

    In my book it seems like good tactical decisions for a good doubles team from 3.5 on up. The same tactical decisions that I coached my #4 boys doubles team that finshed 12th in Divisional and my #1 doubles team that finished 2nd in the State H.S. Tourney.
     
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  46. W Cats

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    The vid clip does bring out someting interesting that I would like to discuss in a new thread. Solat OK with you if I highjack your clip?
     
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  47. jrod

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    right decision by L&P.

    I think in general if you hit a lob deep like this with both opponents up, it makes sense to come in since an aggressive OH seems like a low probability response. However, in this case one opponent was back and was able to get into position to hit an OH smash.

    Paes demonstrates why he is one of the best volleyers in the game by hitting a winning volley off the smash...In fact, he seems particularly delighted with himself! However, at the 4.5 level, I don't know too many players who are all that comfortable volleying 100 mph overheads down the middle for winners. I have pretty good hands, but not THAT good.
     
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  48. Fedace

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  49. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Um, Bob is a lefty. Mike was the one who hit the "overhead".

    After viewing it again it didn't look quite like an OH but more like a fed overhead slice....little hard to tell from the nose-bleed camera angle.
     
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  50. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    That figures.. Mike's overhead and serves are weak.......:( If i were Mike, i would aim for the family jewels and hit the overhead with intention of taking it OFF.....
     
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