How Come I'm Not Holding?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, May 8, 2009.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    When I play doubles, I usually wind up serving first (or second, if our opponents serve first). This is for various reasons. Two partners showed up rusty and wanted me to serve first. Another has a weak serve. Another feels she needs time to "warm up" before serving.

    In the past, this has not been a problem. Lately, though, I have had all kinds of problems holding serve in doubles early in the match. I think two things are happening.

    I think I am serving with a bit less pace and more spin than in the past. There is nothing to be done for this right now, although I have been working on it. When I meet women who are flummoxed by spin, I usually do well, so it's not the end of the world.

    The real source of the problem is that I simply don't know my opponents well enough at the beginning of the match to know what will work best against them. So I stand back there preparing to serve, and I have no plan. Should I S&V? Should I stay back? Should I come in on my second shot instead of S&V? Should I aim to the BH, or should I just go down the middle? Should I ask partners who are weak volleyers to be conservative and not try to take difficult balls, or should we plan a poach? On my second ball, what should I do if the returner has come to net -- lob or drive?

    So a typical service game might be . . . I serve up the middle and come in. Returner cracks a return at my shoes, which I miss. Love-15.

    Next serve is up the middle, and I stay back, still stung by my missed volley. Returner hits a floater. My partner dumps it into the net.

    Next serve is up the middle. I stay back and rally with deuce court player for a few shots. I miss first.

    Next serve is out wide. I come in. Returner lobs my partner, and I can't run down the lob. Game over.

    As the match goes on, I tend to figure these things out and get a sense for my opponents' weaknesses and strengths, but early on is difficult. What kind of plan do you have when you serve early in a match?
     
    #1
  2. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Messages:
    24,466
    Location:
    FT. Lauderdale, Florida
    Same as I have late in the match>>>> don't double fault, get my first serve in.

    Good luck.
     
    #2
  3. Xisbum

    Xisbum Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    670
    Location:
    Elvisland
    I hate serving first and go to great lengths to avoid it. Would much rather serve 3rd or 4th - even in singles. ;-)
     
    #3
  4. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    5,997
    Hard to say because every service game is different. There is not a lot of room for error in doubles, you (and your partner) just have to do a couple things well:

    1) Get your first serves in
    2) Do not botch easy poaches/volleys

    Over the winter my serve has really hit a low and I have the same problem. I am serving at 10% first serves. This puts so much pressure on my 2nd serve that I'm also double-faulting more. And playing against better returners, I'm starting to see more of the return hitting my shoe as I'm S&Ving, and so I'm missing more of those. And of course I'm still being partnered with 3.5s even in 4.0 matches, so I'm seeing alot of the botched poaches also.

    But I'm also getting broke routinely in singles as well because I'm missing first serves and double-faulting. So the last few weeks I started taking my hopper out to work on serves and I'm starting to see a slight improvement, but still frustrating as hell that my serve went from being a weapon to a liability for no apparent reason. I'm having alot of 'yips' moments with my serve toss as well and then hitting the frame.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2009
    #4
  5. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Messages:
    5,639
    Are you doing a dynamic warmup before the hitting warmup begins?
    Are you getting enough practice serves?
    Do you arrive at the court with a fixed game plan in mind as to how you are going to use your first six serves to hit wide to either side and to the body so you'll have all these options for the match, and be able to keep your opponent guessing?
    Do you have the attitude that start of the match is all about execution of a game plan, and not trying to figure one out as you go along?
     
    #5
  6. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Messages:
    23,292
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Make sure you warm up your shoulders like Pete Sampras before the match starts. and in the first game, go for the body serve and jam the returner. and get your 1st serve in. this tend to force a weaker return in the 1st game. and put balls in Play and make your opponent play and make them hit winners. Let them know only way they can win points against you is if they hit a Clean winner. this puts tremendous pressure on your opponent..
     
    #6
  7. eagle

    eagle Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    1,586
    Location:
    Kona, Hawaii
    I think you have the right idea.

    Body serves. It doesn't give the returner a lot of angles to hit.

    Also in doubles, you'd want to control the net. So, don't stay back especially if you are serving.

    With both of you at net playing the person at the baseline, you have a better chance of winning the point.

    r,
    eagle
     
    #7
  8. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Messages:
    23,292
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    You have know one thing. even if the return is hit at 100mph, you still have to volley the ball in doubles and put it in play. You have NO excuse for missing volleys in doubles cause you don't get stretched out too often. Say to yourself,,,, "I have NO reason to miss volleys in doubles EVER."..
     
    #8
  9. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2006
    Messages:
    3,364
    I bet you do know Cindy - are you watching how they react in the warm-up?

    While you many not know 100% what will work best, you should at least have an idea of where their weaknesses are at the end of the warm up. Go to that weakness first.

    Also - you should know your strenghts and go into the game with your own game plan based on your strengths. So if you are not sure, use your game plan as the starting point. If your are a strong S&V player. If you like the baseline - serve, try to move them around and stay back until you get a chance to come in.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2009
    #9
  10. Racer41c

    Racer41c Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Messages:
    779
    So here's how it goes for us. I'll have all the same problems your describing, only it can happen at any time. For example, last night I held about 75% of my serves, I was serving pretty well. My last 2 service games we won at 40-15 and lost 0-40. I actually served better in the 0-40 and we made better shots overall and we didn't make a single UE. The other team returned well, made better shots and constructed points a bit better.

    So how do you start off a match? I would recommend asking your partner how you want to start off. "Easing into the match" isn't going to be real effective, essentially no plan. Just a few simple questions to get an idea of what to expect. It really helps if your concentrating on serving and playing and not wondering what your partner is or isn't going to do.

    Lastly, serve with confidence. If you go tenative, the returner can go aggressive and your playing defense.
     
    #10
  11. eagle

    eagle Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    1,586
    Location:
    Kona, Hawaii
    Forgot to mention earlier that you need to have a plan every time. Communicate with your partner. Before each play, serving or returning, you guys need to know what you guys are going to do. Use signals or huddle together.

    Also, the NET PLAYER has to be very active. If you play one up, one back, the net player had better be aggressive and ready to put away points that come within his/her wingspan.

    I still recommend that you guys always always work towards taking over the net. "Easier pickins" at the net.

    r,
    eagle
     
    #11
  12. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    802
    I try and serve a bucket of balls before the warmup, even if its by my house a couple hours beforehand so I feel good about it heading into the match.

    when i warmup onsite I just go for placement and about 75-80% to start, making sure I can hit my spots or come close

    I'm not the greatest volleyer from the service line so I'll often approach on my own terms, typically after their return and try to get a bit closer to the net or get an easier 1st volley..

    I try to give some different looks as well..on the deuce side I'll go body, short & wide, towards the T, and the ad its backhand backhand down the T (usually just miss) & in the body to get a reference for later..

    of course the answer to all of this is if you win the spin is to have your opponent serve first :)
     
    #12
  13. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    : offers Raiden a warm mug of cocoa:

    Dude, this just doesn't sound right to me at all. I remember your serve. You didn't double-fault, and the thing was a rocket. I can only assume you have improved since then. I can't believe there is anything wrong with your serve.

    It sounds like a loss of confidence, with a side order of uncertainty because of the double-bump. Smart money says it will pass. Hang in there, Bucko!! :)
     
    #13
  14. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    Nope. We get a 10-minute warm-up, so 3-4 minutes of serves at most. The private clubs will not allow us to warm up on site, and it is rare that we have the ability to warm up outside at a nearby public court. Nope, we play our matches cold.

    Nope. I figure I have to see them hit before I can decide what serves make sense.

    Uh-uh. I find that certain game plans fail miserably against certain players. For instance, I might decide I will S&V. I hit the first serve well and out wide, and it goes in. I am in business. The return is a lob over my partner's head. She makes no move to play the ball, so I reverse direction and try to hit a running BH up the line, or a running BH lob. I miss. Point to opponent.

    The next time I serve to this opponent, what do I do? Come in again? Stay back? Well, we can't abandon the game plan because we lose one point, can we? So I serve to the BH and come in. Whoops, another lob. Same result. So coming in with a game plan and sticking to it for even one service game is enough to get us behind in the match. Before you know it, my opponents are cheerfully serving at 1-0.
     
    #14
  15. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    802
    that's so odd because it was Raiden's note on turning his palm down on his serve that has helped mine so much since then!
     
    #15
  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    35,712
    For my doubles teams, the first server depends who's looking into the sun and who can handle, which amongst us is ready to hit 3 balls INTO the correct court, who is actually warmed up both physically and mentally, and who knows where the opponent's backhand really is......
    Best thing to start a match is to make the other team hit at least 3 balls, you NOT making any mistakes.
    Personally, I'm terrible at getting my game going, so I usually ask my partner to serve first, even if they're a full level lower. Some people just can walk onto a court and hit some good shots right off the bat. Let those types serve first.
     
    #16
  17. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    I know!! Raiden has a great serve. It's shaking my faith in tennis to hear even Raiden is struggling to hold. If it can happen to him, what hope is there for me?

    I think I have an idea for Raiden, though. A long time ago, we had a thread on how often people have to catch their toss. Raiden said he rarely catches a toss.

    Maybe that's it, Raiden. Maybe some Toss Discipline is in order to get you through this little valley? Just decide you're not going to hit any toss that isn't exactly where you want it?
     
    #17
  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    You know, there's kind of an unspoken code in doubles, at least with the people I play with: The Most Senior Player serves first. That would be the person who isn't shaking like a leaf because she was only bumped up to 3.5 this season. Since this is my second season at 3.5, the first server is me.

    The other part of the Unspoken Code is that The Younger Player serves first. Even though I am 47, I get nailed under this one too.

    What would make sense, frankly, is for my partners to serve first because I play the net better and am more comfortable there. Our opponents are going to be tight and nervous also and may float a few. If I play my cards right at net, I can get some easy poaches and really get into their heads. I just can't get my partners to deviate from The Unspoken Code, however.
     
    #18
  19. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    I don't think that you are far off. At the beginning of matches, I like to keep it simple. I serve down the middle, have my partner guard the lines so I can used to his/her movement, and I come in on the serve to, a point slightly behind the service line. There is no magic about this position, except that I can get there without rushing, so that I am relaxed and set up for a volley/half volley, or can retreat for a deep lob over my partner. I start serving only second serves so that every first goes in, if possible. That way, I have less stress and I can focus on the point and get the serve going better later in the match.

    Also keep in the mind, that on many doubles matches, the first several games are a feeling out process with breaks of serves by both teams.
     
    #19
  20. Dishiki

    Dishiki New User

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Messages:
    78
    Defer serving, even if you win the spin. You get your feet wet, into the match, and get to see how your opponents hit, and if you break then it takes pressure off on your serve. If you don't break, you are no worse off than the beginning of the match i.e. on serve.
     
    #20
  21. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Messages:
    420
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    And then he started playing 4.0... No seriously, my good serve at 3.5 is below average at 4.0. It all depends on the returner.

    Agree on the toss discipline. Sometimes I think practicing the toss is more important than the swing. I know for me, if I put the toss in the right spot, I'll usually hit a good serve.

    One time I was practicing serving and could not get it right. So I just practiced tossing for about 10 minutes. After that, my serve was awesome (for that day anyway...).
     
    #21
  22. eagle

    eagle Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    1,586
    Location:
    Kona, Hawaii
    Cindy,

    Sounds like you are playing singles .... with you hustling to the ball each time. :)

    Why isn't your partner doing more? Since you are serving and moving towards the net after your serve, then you really don't have time to react to a lob. So, your partner who is at net should be shuttling back if she sees the receiver is going to lob the ball. She has more time to react. If you notice that your opponent is simply lobbing the ball all the time, then you and your partner should be alert to this.

    r,
    eagle
     
    #22
  23. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Up until maybe the 4.5 level the default plan for serving should be to hit the backhand. Make someone show that they can do something with the ball on their backhand side until you worry about anything else. After that adjust accordingly. Forget about serving up the middle or changing it up or any of that crap. Pound the backhand until they give you a reason to change.
     
    #23
  24. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,782
    Exactly what I was going to say...JR! Cindy, play *your* strengths if you don't yet have the opponents' weaknesses figure out.

    While I agree that Cindy's partner may have to do more, I really disagree with the strategy you've presented here.

    If Cindy is serving, her partner is at the net. If Cindy comes in, she should not come in all the way even with her partner (who is already at the net). It is Cindy's responsibility to get the lob if it goes over her partner...she is in *much* better positioning for it (provided she hasn't gone too far in).

    When at the net, her partner is responsible for her alley and the middle shots...Cindy's job is to cover the lob and the wide angle (in her direction).

    This is best executed when the serve is down the 'T', which takes away the wide angle return from the returner, and more often than not sets up the net person for a play at the ball.
     
    #24
  25. Xisbum

    Xisbum Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    670
    Location:
    Elvisland
    Excellent advice; and don't be discouraged by losing a serve every now and then, especially if you get an early break.
     
    #25
  26. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Messages:
    420
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Agree, but sometimes the returner will start to cheat over really hard. In that case I'll go for the middle just to keep them honest.
     
    #26
  27. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    5,997
    I think the problem is I started fiddling with my serve grip and motion during the winter during block times while I was playing sets without actually ever spending time with a hopper. So that lack of repetitions left my serve in an unstable state that also carried over into usta matches.

    My toss used to be better, but now that I'm always thinking about my serve mechanics, I think I am getting screwed up on my toss as well. Thats why I'm putting in this effort to practicing serves lately to stabilize it again.
     
    #27
  28. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    790
    i agree with spot's assessment and strategy. +1. pound their backhand. i think i hit 90% of my serves in singles and doubles to the backhand side. it's the weaker wing for 90% of the people you face. and i like the idea that you keep doing it until they give you a reason to stop going to that well.

    as for raiden's yips. makes sense to me. raiden's serve at 3.0 was probably near unreturnable. and at 3.5 it probably earned him a lot of free points. and now at 4.0 it's probably not causing too much havoc. so all the free points he got at 3.0 and 3.5 on serve made it very easy to hold. less free points at 4.0 means he now has to work harder to hold. that 10% first serve percentage is likely him trying to compensate by going for too much which consequently puts an awful lot of pressure on his second serve.
     
    #28
  29. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    5,997
    In doubles it is quite obvious who should serve first. It should be the person who you want to have more service games in the set. That is usually the stronger server. I've never seen a case where the weaker server holds easier than the stronger server. This is because even a strong volleyer can't do crap if their partner doesn't hold their own during the serve. In mixed I am always more likely to hold, despite my better volley skills. Same goes with a 4.0 doubles match I had last week where i was partnered with a 3.5 guy. The guy got broke every time whereas I held 3 out of 4 times (and yes I actually served well that day which is a rare occurence).
     
    #29
  30. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    5,997
    I don't think the problem is that the higher level players are having an easier time with my serve, its that the serve is less dependable at landing in the box and placed where I want it than it used to be. I definitely lost something on it. Also I want to add that I started noticing my serve problems in my 3.5 blocks against guys who I almost always used to hold against.
     
    #30
  31. eagle

    eagle Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    1,586
    Location:
    Kona, Hawaii

    Hi Topaz,

    Different strokes for different folks. :)

    Yes, Cindy can cover the lob especially if that is mostly the kind of return they are getting from her serves. Must be heaters. :)

    I don't know how fast Cindy sprints to the net, but it sounds like she struggled to cover the lobs because her partner was a spectator growing roots at the net and forcing Cindy to reverse course and try to play defense. Poor Cindy.

    If your play for that point is to serve and volley (again having a play agreed upon by both before every point), you cannot hesitate. Once you strike the ball, you speed towards the net. If she hits a heater and returner lobs it back, Cindy could still be on her way to the net. With her partner alertly knowing that the ball is going to be a lob, he/she can start moving back to cover it.

    Admittedly, there's no cut and dry approach that will work 100%. I guess I forgot to add the YMMV to my previous post.

    Cindy can take suggestions here and try to apply them on the court and hopefully some will stick and work for her.

    I just hope she gets more help from her partner.

    r,
    eagle
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2009
    #31
  32. Rule26

    Rule26 Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    151
    Agree with preponderence of serves to the backhand and mixing up for opponents under 4.0 -> Much Depends on your doubles partner - some are more static than others. A good poacher for a partner motivates my serving game to really hit spots instead of trying to get creative with spin and power.
     
    #32
  33. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    790
    i think your problem is that you don't practice for 4 hours each day and do strength and weight conditioning for another 2 hours. and you failed to hire a nutritionist to optimize the perfect balance of carbs and proteins in your diet. :) lol. i got nuttin.

    oh and if you're having problems with your serve. i'd like to challenge you right now. :twisted:
     
    #33
  34. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    790
    i would argue it works even at the 7.0 level. you ever see nadal play federer? probably 90-95% of his serves are to the backhand. you think fed doesn't know it's going to the backhand? or that rafa doesn't know that federer knows that it's going to the backhand? doesn't matter because the moment you cheat over too much. . . BAM . . . ace to the open forehand side.

    i've never played 5.0 dubs but even at the 4.0 and 4.5 level -- i still hit 90% of serves to the backhand side. it's not a secret. i only change it up when i start eating fuzz. or worse when my partner starts eating fuzz. :oops:
     
    #34
  35. Dishiki

    Dishiki New User

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Messages:
    78
    The server is responsible for the lob. If they are serving and volleying they should not close more than a foot past the service line, so that they can cover the lob. There is absolutely no way the net person can cover an effective lob from where they are starting.
     
    #35
  36. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Messages:
    588
    If I do not know my opponents and they are right handed, and I serve first (which for some reason, I usually do); then I serve down the tee, down the middle as much as possible. The percentage shot coming back to my team should be easier to return because the percentage shot will be into the middle our my court. This way, we do not have to hit angles. Sometimes, I S&V, if I hit a harder serve; if I flub and hit a not so hot serve, I will stay back.

    This is the type of serving I do if I do not know my opponents, or have not figured out their weaknesses yet.

    If they are lefties, I may serve wide to the deuce court to see how they return from the backhand side, but I still will probably default to the down the tee serve, just because then I won't get an angle back.

    I will toss in other serves to keep the other team thinking; but most of the time, I'm aiming for down the tee in dubs.

    spoke
     
    #36
  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    35,712
    Raiden...
    Personally, after 30 years of doubles, I find the stronger server or the better player does NOT necessarily hold serve more often than the weaker player.
    My partners never hit a solid deep ball when they get a high forehand volley at the net. They have no overheads, no low volleys, can't poach on even service line depth overhead TO them, and generally are useless.
    Me, on the other hand, can help them hold serve by always poaching deep down the center, big overhead back to within 8' of the baseline (I"m old, so can't get all the way back), can cover more than my half of the court with GOOD DEEP shots, and constantly fake and move around while at net.
    So my serve gets broken because my partner can't put a way a lob that lands middle of service line right at him........:):):)
    However, when my partner doublefaults 5 times, he gets broken regardless of what I do....:shock:
     
    #37
  38. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW

    Cindy- A couple of things. Serving first because your partner takes longer than you do to warm up, is completely reasonable. Defering the serve to the other team won't solve this issue as you need a few service games to read you opposition anyway.

    My take is a couple of things: first, relax. It sounds like breaks happen all of the time in your matches as serves are not a big weapon. If your serve is not a weapon, it is either a liability if you are DFing all over the place (which doesn't sound like your situation) or it is a neutral mechanism to start points. Secondly, I have had good luck coming up with a "pattern" of first and second serve types and placements that I feel is optimal given many factors: warming up my shoulder, suprising the returner, ad vs deuce side as to spin and BH vs FH. Of course I sometimes deviate from this preset pattern for various reasons. But there are many 3 set doubles matches where I serve the pattern the whole way through and still suprise the deuce court returner with a slicing body serve on first serve of the third point (even though I have used that exact serve every single service game). Given that returners don't generally pay attention to the location of missed forst serves and that you are only serving in doubles once every 4th game 99% of returners never detect that I am using a pattern.
     
    #38
  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    I tend to stop at the service line, even if I could get closer. 'Cause of this whole lob problem.

    Here's what I think, which is the Art of Doubles way of handling lobs.

    If the lob goes over my partner's head, it is her ball. If my partner sees that we have opponents who lob, she should start off the net a bit and anticipate the lob. It is not against the rules for the net player to see a lob, take a few side-shuffles back, and hit their overhead. Especially when I warned her before the point that I am coming to net so I will not be back there to help with any lobs.

    I keep having this conversation with partners:

    Cindy: "OK, I'm going to serve up the middle and come in to net. So be ready for the lob, because I won't be back there."

    Partner: "OK. So if a lob goes over my head, I'll call a switch and you can go get it because it's on the diagonal for you."

    Cindy: "No, be ready to hit your overhead. She's going to lob us all day unless we make her pay with our overheads."

    Partner: "OK. So if a lob goes over my head, I'll call a switch and you can go get it because it's on the diagonal for you."

    Cindy: "Um, OK. Maybe instead of starting right on top of the net, shade back a bit and that will give you a head start. And pay attention to her racket, 'cause that will give you some warning. But I know you have a good overhead, let's use it!"

    Partner: "OK. So if a lob goes over my head, I'll call a switch and you can go get it because it's on the diagonal for you."

    * * * * * * *

    My partner's weakest overhead is many times better than my strongest running BH drive down the line. She should try to hit that overhead.

    I think it is asking a lot for me as the server to be responsible for the serve, handle the wide return, handle middle returns, handle all low and hard returns that are too hot to poach, *and* handle any lobs going over my partner's head that could be played as overheads.

    And the only thing partner is supposed to do is protect the alley? No wonder I can't hold.

    Cindy -- who has deemed herself incompatible with one partner because she hugged the net and considered 0% of lobs to be her responsibility
     
    #39
  40. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,782
    Not if she is already at the net!

    You are the one who has the better play...it is going over her head. As a good net person, she should be up, closer to the net, and ready to volley. Also, she is in front...you can see her, but she can not see you.

    By all means, if it is a short lob, then she can step back and hit her overhead. However, since you are the one not yet at net...you have the better play at the ball.

    Her job = protect the alley and *anything* that comes to the middle. If you put your serve at the T, she should be volleying in the middle. The idea here is, if you put a serve at the 'T', the net person is essentially giving up the alley...because that is going to be one h*ll of a return for the receiver to hit. Very low percentage, and if they try it, they will most likely miss it. More likely, the receiver will hit toward the middle (then the net player gets it) or lob (your ball) or try wide to the server.

    As you come in, you should not try to close too close to the net...don't go passed your partner, or neither of you will be able to get the lob.

    Now, if you're starting off with your net person further back, of course, this won't work...but I thought we were assuming a net player *at* the net, ready to volley. Lobs should not be her responsibility.

    My .02! :) YMMV.
     
    #40
  41. Dishiki

    Dishiki New User

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Messages:
    78
    I agree, you are not responsible for all of those things, and your partner is responsible for a great many more. If you serve up the middle, your partner should be taking anything in the middle, unless it is low and away. She should give her alley away. If the opponent can hit a winner from the middle down her alley, good for her, it's a low percentage shot. Secondly, you aren't covering a wide shot if you serve down the middle. You are cutting off the return at the service line. And you should be cutting off the lob. Your partner is thinking or should be thinking "serve down the middle, move my butt and cut off the return." They are going to be in no position to handle a lob, because they should be angling either towards the net or laterally across. If you encounter someone who is killing you with lobs, have your partner start in the same spot, but then once the serve is hit, drop to the service line. You essentially switch the balance of the net in that instance; you've become the "terminator" and she the set up person.

    From reading alot of your posts, I think part of your problem is partnerships. You seem to have a lot of players that can do only what they can do, and will NEVER try to adapt. If you can't adapt you will lose. I am constantly shifting strategies during a match, and my partners are always open to trying something new.

    I'll also go back to deferring serve. I know you still have to read the players and how they return, but it gets your blood flowing and relaxes you. You have no pressure that first return of service game. If you break great, if not who cares. Plus, you will most likely get to see how the server hits some groundstrokes, which will give you a clue as to what you can exploit when they return.
     
    #41
  42. Dishiki

    Dishiki New User

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Messages:
    78
    Topaz, you beat me to the punch, and I agree with everything you said.
     
    #42
  43. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,782
    Yes, yes, yes...this is what I was trying to say...only you've done a much better job with it!
     
    #43
  44. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    Topaz, in my experience it is impossible to maintain control of the net -- which is the advantage I am seeking by S&V -- unless my partner is willing to hit her overhead.

    Yes, some lobs are deep and too high to reach. Not as many as my partners seem to think. I mean, they have to try to reach these balls in singles. Yet in doubles, there is way too much abdication of responsibility for lobs and unwillingness to back up, IMHO.

    The other thing is that I think a lot of ladies start too close to the net. This is because they are not comfortable volleying from the middle of the box.

    If you are playing lob queens -- if you are seeing lob returns -- the server's partner *has* to adjust. It is reasonable when your partner is serving to start at the middle of the box or even farther back. You can from that position creep forward as the returner is hitting, or just split-step and step into your volley, or maintain that deeper position to better attack the lob.

    I think the servers' partners get into a mind-set that their only job is to poach (and few do even that!). They have an additional responsibility, IMHO. They have to help punish and discourage the lob, and that requires anticipating overheads. If I see myself getting lobbed, the first thing I do is start away from the net, looking to hit an overhead. If the returner tries to put it at my feet, then I will simply have to play a more defensive volley.
     
    #44
  45. Xisbum

    Xisbum Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    670
    Location:
    Elvisland
    For what it's worth, this is what one local teaching pro says about positioning in doubles:

    Wonder why the SCWDC Rating Team has not moved you up although you make great shots? Good chance that your court positioning (or lack thereof) is a factor. Though you make a few great volleys, you are being lobbed over or passed and your team is losing more points because of you than you are winning.
    *If many of the points your team plays end up with your partner covering a lob over your head, you are at fault.

    * The key rule in court positioning: You are responsible for every shot which comes to your half of the court! Your half of the court is divided lengthwise by the center strap of the net back to the hash mark on the baseline. If you're at net and think you just have to yell, "Yours" or "Switch" and it's your partner's problem, you are wrong. Sure, even top teams are lobbed over once in a while, but not often.

    At net, position yourself so you are seldom passed or lobbed over.
    - Where to stand at net. Stand no closer than halfway between the net and the service line, plus one step back unless you are tall or a great jumper. Sure, when you stand close to net, it is easier to make volleys. But, meanwhile, your opponents can easily lob over you and put your team in a tough defensive position.
    - Stand a little back from the middle of the court and move forward to make a point-ending volley. If your volley is not a winner, get back!
    - Most people can make volleys when they are standing close to net. We look for people who can hit low volleys - they are the ones who move up.

    Stand in the middle of the service box. In addition to standing more than halfway between the net and the service line, you should stand halfway between the singles sideline and the center service line. Sure, you might get passed down the line once in a while, but you are protecting the most vulnerable part of your team's court -- the middle. Remember than the net is at its lowest at the center strap - 3 feet. Most teams hit a majority of their shots down the middle, so you should protect it.

    I think the second * is most germane to this discussion.

    Now another teaching pro might say something entirely different, but thought I'd throw this hat into the ring to see what happens. :)
     
    #45
  46. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,782
    ^^^That's from the ski club emails, right? Personally, I've seen some really ridiculous stuff come in some of those emails.

    Again, I've been taught (=beaten into my brain) that the net person is in charge. In fact, when I play with a new partner, I tell them...if you go, I'll cover. I can see them, they can't see me. It is easier for me to move up and over, then for them to move back.

    I want them tight on the net, ready to volley, and covering that middle and the high percentage shot. If I'm *already* at the baseline (serving) then the lob over their head is really my shot. I don't think my partner, who is at the net, should have to backpedal and hit what will be a very weak shot, when I can simply scoot over and hit a stronger shot. By not coming all the way in and even with my partner (think kind of a staggered position between the two of us), we can cover just about anything. However, if I come barreling in after my serve, and expect my partner to move back...we've totally given up the offensive position that you get when you serve and have the advantage of putting the first ball of the point into the court.
     
    #46
  47. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    That teaching pro is correct, IMHO.

    I swear, there are a lot of people who are terrified of hitting an overhead. Just the other night, I was doing a S&V from the ad court. Return is a high ball over my partner's head. I was on my way in, so was able to play it as a high FH volley. My biggest problem was that my partner was completely in my way. On account of how the ball was so low and I was so close to her when I volleyed it that I cannot see how it didn't occur to her to just hit her overhead.

    Here's what Art of Doubles (1st ed) says about this issue:

    "If you are the server's partner, you must remember that your server is coming to the net fully focused on his job, expecting to have to play a wide volley or back you up if a ball returned up the middle is unpoachable. . . . . If, as the net player, you expect your partner to cover those volleys *and* be responsible for all service return lobs, then the question is: What are *you* doing out there?"

    These growing pains are, I think, the remnants of 2.5-3.5 doubles play. At those levels, the switch play is the default. Lob? No problem, just sidle on over to the other half of the court and see if your partner can run it down. Heck, you don't even have to say "Switch." Your partner is glued to the baseline, so she knows to start running as soon as the ball is struck.

    I'm playing 4.0 now, and that attitude is getting me -- getting *us* -- killed. I *have* to be able to S&V sometimes. These 4.0 women do to me exactly what I do to people when I return: Smack it and come to net. If I don't S&V, then I am under immediate pressure. Not to mention that I need to S&V to ward off sharp angles and drop shots, because I will never reach the best of these without a S&V head start.

    So I do want the S&V option open to me. If my partner expects me to get every lob that is thrown up -- if she is no threat with her overhead -- I have no choice but to stay back. That's a problem.
     
    #47
  48. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,067
    I am playing a 4.0 match tonight. I am going to keep a mental tally of how many lobs go over my partner's head and how many poaches she makes. I will report back. Stay tuned . . . .

    Cindy -- thinking this exercise might help her keep her mind off of the score :(
     
    #48
  49. Xisbum

    Xisbum Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    670
    Location:
    Elvisland
    I've heard this same thing - cover your half of the court - from teaching pros in every clinic and lesson I've ever taken in Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and here. Since I've always been more comfortable as a singles baseline player, it's been really hard for me to accept this doubles concept - but I think it's the difference between 3.0-3.5 and 4.0 and above doubles play. You can get away with "switch" and baseline play in 3.0 and in many 3.5 matches, but never in 4.0.

    As you say, it gets you killed.

    But then again what do I know? :)
     
    #49
  50. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,782
    Let me be clear, I never meant for the server to stay back at the baseline. Merely to not come crashing all the way in, even with the net person, so that they are able to cover the lob that goes over their partner's head. I also never said that the net person shouldn't hit an overhead. My comments were about positioning, and what type of ball each person should be looking to cover. It won't work, however, unless you place the serve at the 'T'. You also need a brave net player...not someone who won't commit and be afraid. (<---that would be me btw!)

    The court can be divided more than one way, and which way you should pay attention to changes not just within the match, but also within the point sometimes.

    This was taught to me by a pro who spent a significant time at Bollitieri's, so I'm pretty sure it is legit, and not for 'lower level' play.

    Xis, I'm pretty sure I've seen the pros 'switch'...not sure what you mean by saying that higher lever players don't do it?
     
    #50

Share This Page