"Move In!" - Doubles Topic

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Bud, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Nothing annoys me more than playing fairly high level doubles with a doubles newbie, who is constantly guarding the alley from a low percentage passing shot.

    When I'm in a cross court rally with the opponent going 5.. 6.. 7 balls, here's my partner doing absolutely nothing but guarding the alley :mad: They are not even executing a head fake or pretending to move into the middle to poach the ball to put pressure on the opponent.

    For these people, I start barking... "move in!" It's not pretty but eventually it works. I then explain that with the ball I'm hitting to the opponent (deep and spinny), it would be very low percentage to try a passing shot down the alley. If the opponent did hit that shot, I'm playing back and could probably cover it unless it was very hard, flat and accurate. If they do make it 10% of the time, then kudos to them.

    It's a thing of beauty when a partner finally gets into the rhythm and starts moving back and forth between the alley and center of the court during a CC rally.. waiting for the right shot to poach.

    Anyone else deal with this frustration?
     
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  2. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    This was me two years ago. I was formerly a singles player and felt I had to "cover" my side. I guarded the heck out of that line. When I finally saw the light this, combined with better net skills has made me into a much more effective doubles player.

    Now I essentially spend every match daring the opponent to hit the line. I spend so much time near the middle of the court cutting off cross court balls that I frequently get comments about how much I poach when really I am just in a position to cut off balls without "poaching" per se. Nice post.
     
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  3. ibeeskeef

    ibeeskeef New User

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    I agree totally about the frustration. It is nearly impossible to win a doubles match unless your partner is willing to get involved at the net in these situations. That is one reason mixed doubles is so frustrating for many men. Most of the women I have played with in the past don't seem to be willing to poach on a crosscourt groundstroke as often as their male partners would like to see.

    My question to you, however, is this. After 5..6..7 balls from the deep corner, why have you not found a shot to move to the net yourself?
     
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  4. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Absolutely so true in the "modern game", an outcome of poor instruction, students telling their coaches how they want to play and your average coach capitulating. Caught some of the Bryans Davis Cup at Austin against Spain last night on Tennis Channel (don't know if they won or not and it doesn't matter) but the commentator expounded on how they and their rackets were always in the middle (one being a lefty) and how they moved continuously towards the net in UNISON. Geometry Watson!, minimize the angles for your opponents to angle-off winners.

    Tangentially on the topic, maybe, the OP's "alley rat" partner got stuck playing with a top-ranked super-senior guy I occasionally get find myself on the court with. He is great at singles, definitely his game, but he's clueless at doubles. I'm no slouch myself and the first time we teamed up, all I heard from him was: "Watch your alley!!!." He was so good at singles that in club/rec doubles he could pretty much win on his single-handed--BUT in doubles you have a partner--ME-- who wants to play and have some fun too! I found it intimidating and if I didn't have game myself I would have succumbed to his orders to literally cover my alley by standing in it ALWAYS.

    After a few games of this I told him, "Look, why don't I just sit down on the bench and you can cover the whole court." He shut-up after that but I could tell he wasn't happy about someone asserting their right to have a shot at playing too. If the opportunity comes up to play "with" him I immediately go to the other side of the net and listen to him berate his newest partner to : "Cover your alley!!!", while I trash-talk and rib his partners: "You might as well sit down on the bench and enjoy watching your partner play good singles."
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
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  5. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    i am a singles player that just started to play doubs. you def have to communicate prior to playing to get it clear about covering the middle and moving up etc.
     
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  6. b33rfairy

    b33rfairy New User

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    Move In

    Yeah, in my opinion, if ur tradin ground strokes and it's reached 7 AND there has been a deep ball to your opponent and he's not moving in, he's not bein aggressive enough to win. You can't wait for the short ball.

    At the same time, if you hit the deep ball wide, then yeah he should check his alley but be ready for a shorty anywhere. Also, I like to chip short and charge rather than exchange ground strokes CC.

    I was watching some Davis Cup on TC and the commentator said, "He who owns the middle owns the match" or somethin like that. But poaching isn't always ez. You gotta have a good sense of timing and some speed and confidence, IMO. Maybe ur partner has a minimum of any of these.

    AND I will not happily take instruction by a singles person who has no doubles rep.
     
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  7. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    It would be pretty rare for me to get into a protracted CC rally from the baseline as I am likely to already be approaching the net myself, but when it does happen, I have the opposite complaint: if I get the ball to the "inside" of the opposing baseline player, my partner will usually be all over their return, but if I get a crazy CC angle into the alley, they don't cover their alley and get passed.

    To be fair, most of my partners cover both shots correctly but if they are going to make an error it is as I described.
     
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  8. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    This is usually a mistake in doubles unless it is for a winner. I think it is better to work the low middle until you can win it (ie. hit an outright winner) wide. Going wide early is a recipe for giving the opponent choices.
     
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  9. PushyPushster

    PushyPushster Rookie

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    No offense, but you simply don't understand what your partner is doing. It's a complex set of tactics that I often employ myself. For the first 90 minutes of the match I stand like a statue on my side of the court being totally ineffective. Then, when they least expect it, I dart across the net and strike like a cobra. Our point, baby. Of course, that would never have worked if I hadn't spent the first 90% of the match lulling my opponents into a false sense of security. It's called strategery.
     
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  10. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Great post! Perfect description of the doubles epiphany :) It's amusing to see how many errors opponent's can make when you tempt them with the wide open alley (especially on the serve return).

    When playing 4.5 doubles, the opponents also hit deep with lots of spin as well. Me approaching the net on such a shot is low percentage (point suicide). So, I keep rallying, hoping my partner will place some pressure on the opponent by moving into the center (or even head faking).

    Sometimes, when I begin to get frustrated, I'll go with a hard flat shot (low percentage) directly at the net opponent (which is frequently put away with a drop volley) or I'll try a TS lob down the line (over the net man) just to mix up the point and perhaps create some confusion.

    Your point is well taken however. I will, from now on, look for the best opportunity to move in and volley myself in this situation. I'll plan on hitting that extra special CC ball really deep and spinny and then approach.

    This is why I love this forum, because there are so many people with experience and different perspectives.

    Lol! Good one :) After 90 minutes however, the match would have been over for 45 minutes with a probable loss.

    Just to be clear to others reading this topic, I'm specifically referring to decent singles players (4.0+) who just start playing doubles or have little understanding about the importance of owning the middle of the court. They don't move their feet during the point and basically grow roots 2' from the alley, protecting it from any potential low percentage passing shot. This allows the opponents to feel free and easy on their strokes... with no pressure.

    When I'm playing with a lower level player, I don't tell them to move in during the point. However, after the point I do point out the importance of at least pretending to move in. Their slight movement offers some doubt in the opponent's mind about whether they will poach or not.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
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  11. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    Nice post. I have been working in this area for a couple of years. Since I changed to the continental grip for both forehand and backhand volleys, my bh volley has become much stronger, and consequently at 6'4" with a 74" wingspan, I can position myself much farther off the alley than I would have thought possible. I still have partners who get antsy and remind me to "guard the line", but if I haven't been passed there at least a few times, what the heck am I trying to guard? It's my desire to fill the middle and push opponents outside, because at 3.5, that tactic will always be a winner.
     
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  12. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    In a little experiment during my tourney match this wseekend I decided to experiment until it hurt me. From the duece side I started with my right foot on the T and moved forward once my partner hit his serve. There was so much room down the line I thought anyone could hit it there. After the guy missed down the line 3 times in a row he started going cross court into the tiny window I had given him.

    I honestly think the "success" of making me play volleys was better for him than missing down the line.

    Eventually his partner started playing two back ... instead of making me cover the line.
     
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  13. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Shall I add another "Nice post" to the list? Seriously, you've hit it, Bud. And Dizz. And Mike.

    As the receiver, I love to go DTL early in a match...even if I hit the net...just to show them...I WILL. And I do, throughout the match.

    But as a partner, I'm huggin' that middle line. If my opponent hits a good one DTL, I'll be the first one to do an Andy Roddick -- raise my racket and say "Good One!". But I'll turn my back and say to my partner, "Now do it again." Until they can prove they can do it over and over and over, I ain't guardin' it.

    Michael, come play with me anytime. You'll never hear me say...guard that line.
     
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  14. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    A wide open alley is so inviting many will keep trying to hit that beautiful passing shot DTL... even if it costs them the match ;)

    The key to guarding the alley is to immediately recognize what type of shot your partner hits to the opponent. If I'm hugging the T and my partner hits a weak CC shot (especially to the FH side), I immediately slide over and cover the alley. If my partner hits a good deep/spinny shot I slide over and prepare to poach. If I get passed, I applaud the opponent's DTL pass.
     
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  15. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Well against my competition if you try to "work the low middle" you are going to get poached.

    I don't disagree that there are issues with going wide, but in reality if the netman covers the alley, the other baseline player can cover the center and the opposite alley.
     
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  16. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Good points.

    There are very few rules in doubles that always apply.
     
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  17. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    i havent read past this post
    but if you are playing "fairly high level doubles" this would not be an issue.
    if the newbie doesnt belong there you have to teach them
     
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  18. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    Bud, at 4.5 level aren't your opponents and yourself serve vollying 100% first serves and a large majority of the seconds. So how often do you actually get a 7 stroke cross court rally at 4.5 level?
     
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  19. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    I play 4.5 doubles and the example was playing with a partner who plays 4.0+ singles. They play doubles occasionally so don't understand the difference in the dynamics between the two games. Generally, if I'm playing with an open level partner (who plays mostly singles), they are good enough where it makes little difference.

    Many 4.5 doubles teams do not serve and volley on first serves. The CC rallies can be fairly frequent if you have two good baseliners. Both know to keep the ball well CC and high enough (6'-8' above the net with depth, spin and pace) where a poach is nearly impossible or very difficult.

    However, the net man still needs to move their feet (drifting toward the center and back) so any opportunity ball that presents itself will end up poached. If they just stand still 8'-10' from the court center line, not moving then the opposing net player WILL move in and poach at any opportunity.

    The bottom line is when the net players are not constantly moving toward the center and back during the course of the point, the CC rallies can go longer than they should. When that happens, I'll go for a low percentage shot (hard flat directly at the net man or a TS lob over the net man) just to end the point or mix up the dynamics.

    - - -

    I recently watched a 4.5 USTA SF match and there were a number of lengthy CC rallies. However, the net guys were looking for any opportunity to poach. They were both drifting left to right during the point.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011
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  20. djNEiGht

    djNEiGht Professional

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    i'm enjoying this thread and with many things i read on this forum i will put into practice.

    about 99% of my games are pick up doubles. it's a nice thing to see when you get some 4.0+ players matched up and get to see them play. All types of strategy employed.

    My favorite scenario is when all of the players are within the service line and closer and it looks like they are playing hot potato.

    trying to keep an open mind and learn the game of doubles (oh and singles too)
     
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  21. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    If they don't serve and volley, what is their plan to win the point? UEs by their opponents? Wait for their partner to poach before the opponent's partner poaches? If you're playing back, there must be a reason.
     
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  22. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Apply the same logic to singles? Is modern singles played by mostly S&V? No. Most modern doubles isn't either. The only people I see playing true S&V doubles are the old-timers who learned tennis 25+ years ago.

    With most of the people I play doubles with/against... points are won by winners, net poaching, going down the middle, volleys or forced errors. I also S&V if up 40-x or down 30-40 as it takes the opponents by surprise many times.

    Now, if you mean approaching the net and volleying after a nice approach shot then yes, that still happens :)
     
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  23. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    If both teams are playing new-agey tennis, with one- up and one-back, they're gonna' cancel each other out. The first team to play right, take over the net AND possess decent volleys will win.

    I'm a bit immobile, so I camp out at the service line so they can't drop shot or lob me unless they're darn good at it and I'll concede a couple of good ones in a match. At ye' ol' club, my One Back partners are being chipped and drop-shotted mercilessly. I took a look back at my last two partners as he/she served and they were taking a step BACK after serving instead of taking steps toward the net. They are missing getting to the cross-court return by ONE STEP every time! I've resorted to telling my partners to PLEASE, please, just take ONE STEP towards the net and you'll get to those chips that you're missing by ONE STEP. Some of them get it, I hate to coach the un-coachable on the court and only do it out of self-preservation to win--it's awfully hard to break well grooved BAD habits.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
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  24. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I can't see how winners can be hit from the backcourt against a doubles team. Or hitting down the middle or forcing errors from the backcourt. And, the serving team serves and volleys currently, no? Certainly on first serves.

    It takes high level groundstrokes to beat a competent volleying team. They do that by coaxing a short volley from the volleyers and then blasting away from a short distance. So, it's a race to get a short volley before the volleyers make you hit a high groundstroke that would be volleyed away.
     
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  25. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    When's the last time you played tennis 1985? :) You seem incredulous that S&V doubles tennis is rarely played any longer.

    Most doubles teams, as Tom stated, play 1 up and 1 back or even both back... coming in only on a decent approach shot.

    I was watching a USTA tournament recently and I don't think any of the doubles teams S&V more than 1 of every 6-7 points max.
     
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  26. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    i would disagree with that
    the 4.0-4.5 teams i play against everyone is coming to net asap
     
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  27. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Coming to net ASAP and S&V are like night and day. I come to net ASAP but rarely S&V. If I'm serving to a decent player with hard, flat groundstrokes... I won't S&V unless it's on a very important point. It's a surprise tactic. Otherwise, it's suicide.

    S&V is exactly that.. you serve and are immediately in on your serve.. EVERY point (or at least 90% of them).

    Did you see the last Nadal vs Llodra match? Llodra got murdered playing S&V tennis. Everything at net was either returned to his ankles or was a clean winner right by him.

    Again, that's not S&V tennis. I believe the modern term is all-court tennis.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
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  28. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    thats one way to get to net
     
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  29. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I am incredulous because it simply shouldn't work (unless you had serve returns like Djoker). All it takes is the server to get a good look at his first volley and the return team is in trouble. On a decent serve, that should happen.

    Are these USTA tournaments Open level?
     
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  30. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Do you watch doubles at all? Many pros play 1 up / 1 back until they make a nice approach shot. Some even play 2 back. If S&V was so easy and effective as you state why aren't all pro doubles players doing it?

    I stated earlier that the level is 4.0-4.5 (although many 4.5's play down from Open)

    - -

    Here.. watch Nadal / Lopez (tournament winners) play doubles at IW earlier this year. This is how most modern doubles is played (at club or pro level). A 5-minute final game and not a single S&V... or even a net approach by Lopez (serving).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLNbnpqhIB8


    Check out the point at 2:10... perfect example of what this thread is referring to (6-stroke CC rally). If I was in Nadal's position (deuce court net), I'd have been drifting toward the centerline to poach that ball at 2:18. IMO, that was a poachable ball with Nadal's skills. It made it a bit tougher that Cilic received a ball to his FH, giving him the option of either going to the middle or down the line. He chose the middle with a very flat FH and won the point (Lopez was moving left - out wide - to hit another FH instead of a BH and got caught when Cilic went to the middle). Nadal was pretty wise to cover the line. Had it been to Cilic's BH, Nadal would probably have tried to move to the center and poach.

    http://youtu.be/aLNbnpqhIB8?t=2m10s
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
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  31. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I think Nadal/Lopez are not the norm. The Bryan brothers would be or Fed & Stan. They'll play both back in defensive situations, but S&V otherwise.

    Are you saying 4.5 play like Nadal-Lopez and Open play like the Bryan Bros.?
     
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  32. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Look, I'm not going to convince you so let's end it here .. go ahead and play doubles that makes you comfortable :)

    I don't want to turn this thread into a p1ssing contest
     
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  33. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Sounds good. Where in SD do you play?
     
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  34. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Mostly at Balboa Tennis Club (Morley Field)

    http://www.balboatennis.com/
     
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  35. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Marc is in a funny situation. Most of his competition is in mortal fear of his partner, yet his partner is not a great doubles player. Marc clearly makes the strategic decisions for the team and when playing well, has great touch. He is lacking in power, however. His serve is not fearsome, neither are his groundies, pace-wise, though he can thread the needle to get his partner easy putaways at the net. Clearly the team does batter when he is at the net and the other team makes the mistake of hitting balls to him there rather than hit to his partner at the baseline.
     
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  36. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Ah yes. I know it well. Is the Fred Kinne honor display still up in the clubhouse?
     
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  37. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    I believe it is

    I rarely go in there but to use the bathroom and occasionally watch a match on the large flatscreen ;)

    - -

    I just Googled him as I wasn't aware of who he was. Beside his contributions to tennis, he also wan a Pulitzer Price for covering the 1978 PSA flight 182 airline disaster when that 727 crashed in North Park (where I live and about a mile from Balboa Tennis Club).


    Just before the crash, September 25, 1978:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSA_Flight_182

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2089992/posts
     
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  38. jagmeister

    jagmeister New User

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    My experience from 4.5 sectionals

    I played three 4.5 matches at #2 doubles this past weekend at Sectionals. Whether a team serves and volleyed depended on their comfort at net. Most of the players were average volleyers and did not serve and volley. But all looked to come it on approach shots. The more accomplished doubles players all served and volleyed during the season.

    For what it's worth, watched some of the 5.0 doubles matches, all of the players were coming in on their serves -- at least their first serves.

    Btw, my partner and I served and volleyed the entire time. With the exception of one difficult match against topspin lop specialists, we controled the net and won without too much difficulty. We eventually won the other match too.

    I also tend to guard the line too much on service returns. It is a difficult habit to break. I think it's because I don't want to give up an uncontested return down the line since we are both serve and volleyers. Something I definitely need to work on.
     
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  39. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    you have earned alot of respect from me for that post:)
     
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  40. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    I'm a slow learner ;)
     
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  41. UWBTennis

    UWBTennis Rookie

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    I'm sorry but I was under the impression that low balls tend to generally be better defense against poaching, am I wrong? If I am please explain to me why because it would save me time that I'm spending on learning to hit topspin while keeping it low (a truly time consuming task).
     
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  42. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    A high CC rally ball is easier to execute time after time. A dipping TS shot at the net man's feet is a good play but much lower percentage.

    Any CC rally ball that is 1-3' above the net is easily poachable. If this is your CC rally ball, make sure the opposing net man is no closer than 8' to the net or be prepared to come forward when it's poached. An experienced doubles player will be salivating to pick off such a CC ball after 2-3 exchanges.

    Start rallying CC in doubles with 6-8' net clearance and watch how many balls go unpoached. The ball I'm referring to isn't hit flat but with lots of spin and depth. Your goal is to continue pushing back your opponent at the baseline until your net man get the opportunity to pick off the ball (which brings us to the topic of this thread)... getting your net man to keep moving in toward the center, taking any poaching opportunities.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
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