Legit Doubles Strategy?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Spancake, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. Spancake

    Spancake New User

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    Hey everyone, I was wondering if this doubles strategy is legit, and if it would be effective. As you know, there are 3 main up and back formations in a doubles: Regular Left & Right, I-Formation, and Australian Formation. Each of these formations has its benefits. As a returner, once you see a formation, you know what you must do. If it be the Australian Formation, they your most likely going to have to hit a down the line shot.

    Now say I am serving, and you are my partner. Can you move around the court before and during my serve? I am assuming yes, but if you can't, then correct me. Anyways, if you could switch formations in such a short amount of times, you may be able to confuse your opponents. For example, we line up in the regular left right formation. Right as I begin my toss you move over to form the Australian formation. Your opponent suddenly realizes that they must hit a down the line shot instead of the easy cross court shot. Unlike a normal Australian Formation, the returner only has a matter of seconds to realize what shot they must hit.

    Different combinations could be used, some more effective than others. I understand that the server would have to serve in the middle for each serve, which cuts off his/her angle, but I think the pros out-way the cons. Discuss.
     
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  2. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    You are not allowed to intentionally distract your opponent. I know you pointed out that you'd be the serving team, but as a receiver, the net man must pick a spot and stay there until the ball has been struck. I'm not sure if the same rule applies to the serving team.
     
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  3. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    My partner was doing this last week (someone who I dont play with regularly), and my opponents kept calling "LET!!" right as I was about ready to serve it. (I was actually glad that we agreed that he would stop it because he was distracting me as well by moving around as I served)

    The funny thing about hindrance is even if you dont mean to distract, the way the rules define it is that anything that you conciously do that can be distracting can be hindrance.

    I dont think it's necessary anyway. In all 3 of the documented strategys, you can signal to your partner that you are either going to cover your own side, or cross over to the other side to poach. (or in the I formation you can signal which way you are going)

    And the Austratialian and the I formation are not meant to be used constantly thru a whole match, they are just things you throw in here and there as your opponents get keyed in on their returns. It's not like singles where they have to return from both sides, you're basically hitting the same return over and over and over again (especially if your opponents dont have a spectacular serve).

    I prefer the method where you just demonstrate that you covering a certain area but are full well going to quickly move to another (right before they hit the ball).

    That's just as good as moving back and forth constantly which can really only lead to distract someone. Moving back in forth is dumb anyway, it's not like you are invisible, they can see where you are as you move back and forth, especially if you are making a big scene out of it.

    (Ive had my returning opponent do this as well on my serve, he would wander from the centerline sometimes as far as the side net while I was in my service motion. I was never sure if it's legal or not, but it's sure distracting as all heck if it's done in an abnormal manner)
     
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  4. vndesu

    vndesu Hall of Fame

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    power out at net player.
    both play net to pressure opponets.

    simple
     
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  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not sure what you're asking.

    The server's partner can do whatever they want with their movement within reason. Elaborate fakes are fine.

    I don't think trying to shift from regular to Australian would work very well. If I'm at net, I don't know when you are tossing. So I can't be sure I will time such a switch properly.

    If I do it when I hear you make contact, I think that is too early to bother anyone, not to mention how I might actually run into your serve.

    Also, if we line up regular, then I as server will line up midway between center hash and doubles alley (and many people line up even wider). If you are going to shift to Australian as I toss or serve, then my opponent will know to go down the line. I might not make it over to cover if I start so far from the hash. If I suddenly change my serve position to the hash when I don't normally serve from there, this will telegraph the plan, I would think.

    Just some thoughts . . .
     
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  6. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    This is only partially true. The rules say you can't do something where the primary purpose is to distract your opponent. However, that doesn't mean you have to pick a spot and stay there. If that was the case, then you couldn't fake poach. You can move in order to change your position from an australian position to a standard position. If the other side keeps calling lets on you, tell them they are full of it, and/or start calling lets on them everytime they do a fake poach, or whenever they move when you are about to hit the ball.


     
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  7. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Yes, you can. As long as your PRIMARY purpose in moving is NOT to distract your opponent.


     
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  8. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    from the CODE

    i just found this from THE CODE:

    HINDRANCE ISSUES
    34. Feinting with the body. A player may feint with the body while the ball
    is in play. A player may change position at any time, including while the
    Server is tossing the ball. Any movement or sound that is made solely to distract an opponent, including, but not limited, to waving the arms or racket or stamping the feet, is not allowed.

    Thus you are allowed to change your position, or feint with your body at any time.
     
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  9. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    You can start poaching once the ball is struck. You can be called for hindrance if you poach during the serve motion. Besides, why would you poach as a receiver during a serve anyway?


    click here
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
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  10. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Wrong. The code states specifically: "A player may change position at any time, including while the server is tossing the ball."


     
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  11. heartman

    heartman Rookie

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    "without causing a distraction". If I'm on the returning team and I think it's a distraction, I'd call a let every time. After all, it's my call.

    Seems a bit silly, don't you think. I'd make fun of an opponent who resorts to such nonsense.
     
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  12. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    The USTA Q&A guy claims otherwise.
     
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  13. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Which guy? Can you post a citation?

     
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  14. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    This is my interpetation as well. And like heartman said, your opponents can call let everytime if you do that. (because you are distracting them)

    It all depends on the extent that you are doing this. It's true you can feint (it says 'feint', not scramble back and forth like a chipmunk) toward a new position, but if you are covering enough ground to go between regular and austrailian formation, you are causing a distraction.

    It doesnt matter if you dont think it's a distraction because it is distracting. (watching some guy wander back and forth in front of you while you are trying to focus on the server is distracting and amounts to the same sort of effect as someone waving their racquet or making some other form of nonsense)

    Besides, like I said, it's stupid. When you are the returning team, you can move while the server isnt even looking (in his ball toss), and will end up in a totally new spot he didnt account for. (although if you made like Mr. Boojangles when you did it and you distracted him, that's hindrance)

    When you are the server's partner, the Returner can see where you are! It doesnt matter how many times you wander back and forth, by the time the returner strikes the ball, he still knows where you are. (and like Cindy said, if you dont know when your server hit the ball you could be in a bad spot)
     
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  15. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Your interpretation goes against rule 34 of the code. It clearly says you can feint when the ball is in play and you can move during the ball toss. If an opponent is going to try to call a hinderance on a simple feint or a movement (I am talking about changing position, not waiving your arms and/or stomping your feet, which I agree would be a hindrance), then he is going against the Code and I am going to call him on it.

     
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  16. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    How about this as an interpretation - you should be pretty still before the serve, but after the serve, you can move all you want (but not wave your arms, shout, etc. that are intentional distractions) That is essentially how you must play the I formation.
     
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  17. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Click on the link I posted in post #9.
     
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  18. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Thanks. This is what it said:

    "Q: I played a tennis match today against a doubles team where the net person stood on the middle line and reached her racket into the box where I was serving to her partner. I know you are allowed to stand close to the centerline but are you allowed to place your racket into the box and obstruct the servers view just to intimidate the server?

    A: Players may not make motions that are meant to intentionally distract the opponent, even prior to the point being played. They must stop when asked to stop. The next time they act in this way, you can deem it intentional hindrance, loss of point.

    The receiver's partner may stand anywhere. Once the receiver's partner takes a position, he/she should remain there until the ball is struck. If the receiver's partner moves away before the ball is struck then it could be deemed that the only reason they took such a position was to hinder the server, and that is not allowed.
    This has been a very controversial issue, open to many interpretations, some differing from mine. However, I stand by my interpretation.
    Waving your racket into the service box while standing outside the box is not permitted."

    I added the emphasis. Please note that his position directly contradicts the written position stated in Rule 34 of the Code, which states you CAN CHANGE POSITION during the toss of the ball.




     
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  19. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Main Entry: feint
    Function: verb
    Date: 1741
    intransitive verb
    : to make a feint
    transitive verb
    1 : to lure or deceive with a feint
    2 : to make a pretense of

    Feinting is not the same as moving. There is actually a big difference.

    From a distraction standpoint, I think you can move as far as a few feet either way and it is justified as feinting. In that case I would agree with you, that's it's perfectly legal. (so is moving or changing your position on the return while the server isnt looking, as long as you dont create a huge disturbance while doing it)

    But if you are wandering all the way from the sideline over the center line and back, then you are causing a distraction. (whether you want to think it's legal or not, it IS distracting to the returner thus it goes against the idea of fair play)

    Like most things it's all subjective and you'd have to be there. If you were at my match, you would of seen my partner wander from sideline to center line multiple times as I was in my service motion.

    It distracted ME, much less my opponents. When you see someone doing it to that extreme of an extent (and maybe they have a big stupid grin on their face while they are doing it), you can only determine that it's to distract the returners.

    The beauty of what my opponents did is they called Let before I managed to serve the ball. Whether it's justifyed or not, the point stops there (maybe they are not ready, possibly because they are being distracted). In most of our matches there are no officials, so if you want to argue about something silly as your right to make like Mr. Boojangles as they are trying to return, you may be in for a long tennis match.....

    (it's a useless thing to do anyway so it's far easier to just cut that out, and use hand signals or just simple feints which are more effective anyway)
     
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  20. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    It's a "legal" strategy. As long as you're not doing it with the intention of distracting your opponents, it's OK.

    I'm not sure it's a "good" strategy. I think you're more likely to get burned than you are to sneak in a winner.

    I think it's a novel idea. It's like going in motion before the snap. But, a good defense will adjust and adapt.
     
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  21. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Yes, but you opponent gets to decide if they are hindered or not in the hinderance rule. So it doesn't matter if in your mind the purpose of your movement was distraction, they get to decide.
     
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  22. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    I don't think that someone can just claim "hinderance" at any time. What's to stop them from using that as a gamesmanship ploy? Poach - Hinderance! Big windup then sneaky dropshot - Hinderance! Throw a lob up into the sun - Hinderance!
     
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  23. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I agree with you, but my point was that folks don't call hinderance on themselves, the other team does. This is true even though the rules state that part of the criteria for hinderance are what the primary purpose was for the activity (and naturally only the person doing the activity knows what is in their mind).
     
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  24. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Not true. Do you have anything to back up your statement?

     
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  25. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    So basically you are saying the code is wrong, that you cannot move during the ball toss. Unfortunately (or fortunately), i do not respect your a-thor-ah-TIE. :twisted:

     
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  26. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    It may be a legit strategy, but the net man should prepare to have his head torn off if the other team gets pissed. I know if someone tried that crap on me I'd try to plug em. :mad:
     
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  27. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Yet you respect a South Park character?

    [​IMG]
     
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  28. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I sometimes see this, and if the netman net is not stable and set, I will pass him is even leaning the wrong way because it is hard to recover.
     
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  29. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    But just "claiming" and hinderance does not mean that one is automatically awarded. You can't claim a hinderance on a perfectly legal motion, just because you may find it distracting. There are LOTS of things an opponent may do that you find annoying and distracting, but if they have a legal right to do them then you can't claim a hinderance.
     
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  30. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    No, I said no such thing. Move all you want, but be aware that folks can call you on it, is all I said, since it is their call, not yours.

    Ultimately tennis is governed by the good will of the players, not the rules. For example, what is to prevent someone from calling a groundstroke that hits the T: "out"?
     
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  31. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    First, I never said that a claim of hinderance would be awarded 100% of the time. As an aside given what the OP described, my guess is that many/most would award such a call, since the OP's description is of a behavior that is not commonly done (at least where I play).

    Secondly, you are incorrect when you say: "You can't claim a hinderance on a perfectly legal motion". Sure, you can. Whether it will be awarded is another matter entirely, but it is the team who "feels" hindered's responsibility to vocalize the call, not the other team.
     
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  32. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Well based on that logic, folks can call a hindrance on me if i am wearing orange shorts, since it is "their call". However, as long as I am within the rules of tennis, i will keep on doing what I am doing. If someone tries to call a hindrance on me even though I am staying within the rules, I will not let them have their way.

     
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  33. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I cannot agree more with the bolded statement...
     
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  34. notujoo

    notujoo Rookie

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    the server back and the other in front right?....
     
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  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm surprised there is even a disagreement on this subject.

    The Code clearly says players can change position during the server's toss. The Code clearly says players can feint while the ball is in play. The Code clearly draws an exception for activities that are "solely" to distract, giving two examples of obvious distractions.

    It seems indisputable to me that you can fake movement or change positions when your partner is serving. Your intent isn't "solely" to distract, although any distraction would be a welcome side benefit of the movement. Your intent is to be someplace unexpected when the opponent strikes the ball. I do this all the time to people, and they do it all the time to me.

    Yes, players can claim hindrance for any reason. They can claim they were hindered by the sun or the wind or what they had for lunch. As these are not valid claims of hindrance under the rules, the opponent should laugh directly in the person's face and claim the point.

    Same thing for someone who tells me I can't fake a poaching move or change my position when my partner is serving in the hope that the receiver will miss due to indecision or will make a bad decision about what shot to hit.
     
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  36. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Well said Cindy! But I would add: "the opponent should laugh directly in the person's face, knee the person in the stomach and claim the point."


     
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  37. Spancake

    Spancake New User

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    Wow, I am surprised that this topic got so popular. I really appreciate everyone's responses. Based on what was stated here, I am think that my strategy is legit even if my opponents do consider it to be "hindrance" just as long as the sole reason is to provide an element of surprise. Nonetheless, the distraction does help. In fact, I'm pretty sure why the server's partner also moves a lot during the serve... but couldn't I call that hindrance since it is their sole purpose?
     
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  38. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Well, if you move before the serve is even hit, you are not accomplishing any "surprise". They can clearly see where you are going.

    You are right that they have a little less time to focus on it, but if you wanted to accomplish that, just use signalling and move afterwards which is even better. (good players sometimes can decide where to return the ball even as late as when it bounces and you can sometimes move too early then, so why not get them when it's too late?)

    However after reading your strategy, it does differ that from what my partner was doing last week.

    My partner was going back and forth between the sideline and past the center line. Sometimes 2 or 3 times before I would finally get the serve in.

    This is where this is all subjective. There is a reason why they mention stamping your feet and waving your arms, those are not allowed because those are not normal activitys and their only purpose is to distract someone.

    When you wander back and forth in front of the returner, sure you are changing positions but most of all you are only serving to distract your opponents. (because there isnt a good reason to do that, you have no plan at all about where you are going to end up when the serve happens so there is no purpose for wanding back and forth other than to distract someone)

    If you are just changing positions (moving from set place to another) like you are suggesting maybe that's not as bad.

    And certainly if you are just moving a few feet to give the impression you are going somewhere that's not as bad.

    But lots of seemingly legal activitys can be hindrance if you take them to some abnormal retarded conclusion (like my partner was).

    My opponents didnt even claim hindrance, they just called "LET". The returner has a right to stop you from serving if they are not ready.

    And blakesq can claim to be as stubborn as he wants about it, but unless he's prepared to just go home and not play, he may not always get his way, the rules when it comes to hindrance are not always as black and white as all that.

    Also something to keep in mind is that depending on what level you are playing at, players may rarely see the austrailian formation or the I formation.

    So even standing in those positions right away is pretty dramatic at times. I was playing 3.5 last year against a bad 3.0 and a really good 3.5 ringer, and we decided to do it only against the 3.0's return. (he was also the captain)

    He actually argued that we were not allowed to do it and we refused. He was so flustered and confused that most of the time he returned it right into the net.

    Or sometimes you hear the "hey! You're on the wrong side! Hey! You're on the wrong side!". Then you try to explain it to them (or sometimes we just ignore them and continue), and they are usually confused.

    And the worst was last week, because we were playing two 3.0 players that used to be on my old 3.0 team. We had a lot of success just throwing the Austrailian in there randomly which is why I didnt really care for my partner wandering back and forth all over the net because that's not really necessary.
     
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  39. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I would think it would be interpreted that running back and forth across the court while the server is in his motion would be purely a distracting move. It would certainly hinder the receiver's ability to return the serve, much more than any effect it would have based on court positioning. The last guy who persisted in such jerky behavior (as well as waving his arms around) ended up with several welts on his body as I finally quit trying to be nice and miss him.
     
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  40. magmasilk

    magmasilk New User

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    I >>> Aussie?

    Regular formation shift to Aussie sounds hard but maybe a last second move from I to Aussie could be effective?

    The standard return for Aussie is DTL. The reply to I is to chose a spot and stick with it. A last second move from I to Aussie wouldn't put you in the path of the serve and may mix up the returner if he/she was initially thinking cross-court. Also, if your partner bounces the ball 10 times it could be easier to time correctly.
     
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  41. Spancake

    Spancake New User

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    That's a pretty good idea about the 10 bounces... but yeah, denying their initial intention was what I was going for.

    To JavierLW, and everyone else - I play high school tennis so, like you said, I doubt many of them have seen the Australian or I-Formation. So for the first 3 or so service games maybe just starting with them would be effective but after they catch on, maybe that quick formation transfer could get them even more frustrated? Unless we are going back and forth between the sideline and past the center line like Javier's partner, I see no reason why they could call a let on us. In fact, I doubt most of the players in my league know about such a rule, since most of them are pure singles players teamed up and put on a doubles court.
     
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  42. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Id still say you should just stick lining up in whatever formation and utilizing hand signals. It's not like you have to spend 2 minutes between every single point anyway. If you play regular formation on one point and then line up in austrailian on the next point, that doesnt give them a whole lot of time to really focus on it. Especially if you are mixing it up well.

    If they have to worry about the possibility of you poaching that makes it even tougher to deal with. (sometimes just noticing that you are doing hand signals is enough to make them overthink it)

    (im not suggesting that because of any possible rule breach, I just think it makes it easier on you because singles players ALSO are not used to having people wandering around while they are trying to serve either)

    Also like I keep saying you are not "surprising" them by doing this anyway, they can clearly see where you moved to. When you signal and leave later, they dont know if you are going to go or not so it's a lot more to deal with for them (since that's when they have to actually focus more on the ball). (think about it, instead of 3 or 4 possibilitys, they have to worry about 5 or 6 now, not including the times that you might fake that you are running across)

    A funny thing happened in my first USTA match at 3.0 in 2002. My partner and I knew what the I formation was and decided to do it in this match. We were playing a team of a really old gentleman and a middle aged guy.

    I think the younger guy had never seen it before but the older guy had, so they actually held up their hand, turned their backs to us (this was right at the start of the game), and they proceeded to have this long drawn out conversation on it.

    Because of this, I decided that while their back was turned, we moved back into the regular formation (just to be funny and screw with their heads a little). So they turned around after this long conversation about what to do only to find that we were going to just do the normal play.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
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  43. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Rickson, I think you have been hitting one too many onehanded backhands. Where did you get this stuff? From the onehanded backhand club? You do know that players that hit with only half their body have half a brain.

    :):):)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
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  44. rqtguy

    rqtguy New User

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    If you play at 4.0 level or above in doubles, we usually refer to the I formation
    as the "I want to lose the point formation". In fact if you can maneuver your opponents into this formation during the course of play you will almost always win the point due to the fact that the "up" man postion player will block their partner's view of the shot and they are vulnerable to any angled shot.


    How come nobody mentioned the baseline formation where both partners are on the baseline when serving. Last year when I watched Dinara Safina play doubles at the Pacific Life Open, she used this strategy quite well.
     
    #44
  45. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Wow, whoever "we" happens to be doesnt know what "they" are talking about.

    The whole point of the (real) I formation is that the net player signals which side he is going to cover, and the server covers the other side. As the returner you dont know where the net player is going so that gives you something further to worry about.

    It sounds like you watch the pros, have you ever watched college tennis, they play I formation all the time. Ive seen them play two back a lot as well as a defense against it, but I rarely see two back on the serve (that's the real "losing" position because you give up the ability to poach the return)

    Maybe you are refering to the I position that newbies might play where one person gets stuck right in the center of the court at the net, and his opponent is in the back not knowing what side to cover?? I agree that it's a bad strategy in that case.

    My partner (the same one who was wandering back and forth) wanted to do that. In singles, he is a big time pusher/retreiver type player (I call him the super-Pusher because he's beating players of the caliber that dont usually lose to pushers).

    So he figures if I stand around at the net in the center or just randomly go wherever I want, that he'll be able to scramble anywhere in the back court to clean up whatever gets past me. He used to play 3.0 and Ive seen him win a few matches that way at that level (with a really good partner who was a major force at the net), but I still think it's a dumb strategy.

    As soon as the ball goes behind me, it presents a huge problem because I dont know where he's going to hit it, and if my opponents are really good, they come running to the net and Im stuck on defense anyway. Id much rather establish that Im covering a particular side and my partner is on a certain side.
     
    #45
  46. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I like it! The "I want to lose this point" formation!

    I've never, ever won a point in practice with this formation. It takes forever for me to get out of a squat, for one thing. Think "Fred Sanford getting out of a chair." So I am late for the poach or I have to start too early. Second, unless my partner has a great serve, the opponents just lob it back.
     
    #46
  47. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I have the same exact problem, which is why I prefer just throwing the Austrialian in here and there and using signalling.

    However just because I cant do something doesnt mean it's not a good formation, that's not logical. (that's like when Im playing with people who just stand there at net and let the ball sail over our heads when it's lobbed, and then they just shake their head about why I served and volleyed and say "tsk tsk tsk, they'll do that to you everytime......")

    When I play with my normal partner these days we do this when I am serving sometimes because he covers a lot of ground at the net and he's very quick on his feet.

    When he's serving I dont bother. By the time Im standing upright the ball is probally going to pass me by anyway. (plus my partner has service placement issues and a lot of his serves go out wide which is not good for the I formation or the Austrailian formation)

    I think the key to any of these formations is you want the server to send most of the serves down the middle or maybe have a serve that puts some pressure on the returners. A flat hard serve that is easy to block back that goes wide is not good.

    Usually if Im playing against someone trying the I formation, I consider what the server is doing over the net player. A lot of times the server will move too early (they have all that time from the serve to the return, etc....), and you can just hit it to wherever they go and avoid the net player entirely.

    Or you can hit it right down the center (both opponents are moving away from the center). Im not sure how you defend that yet.
     
    #47
  48. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    We are discussing it in another thread.
     
    #48

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