Net play in 4.0 doubles help or hindrance?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Lawn Tennis, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    In my experience, playing at the net in doubles is not helpful more often than not at the 4.0 skill level. I'm not a great net player but by no means weak at the net, and if I'm up against somebody in a neutral rally who can hit solid groundies, they will win 60% of those points. I have had the same experience in reversed roles. In a neutral position, most of the time the net player will eventually pop up one of my well-struck groundies for an easy put away. The options for the player at the baseline are many. My favorite is splitting the net player and back player which results in a weak reply and sometimes miscommunication among partners.

    With this in mind, I feel that at the 4.0 skill level, it is beneficial to be at the baseline in a neutral rally. The reason I bring this up: last night, my friend and I lost to some decent net players, but I'm certain if we would continue playing them, the basline doubles game would prove more effective. I'm not saying that doubles teams should play back all the time. I am saying that the team should gain the upperhand via the baseline and quickly move forward just as seen in the ATP singles tour.

    Keep in mind, I am not saying that every time it is beneficial to stay back in a neutral rally. I'm just saying that most of the time, perhaps 60%, it is advantageous to rip 'em from the baseline.

    What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
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  2. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    I can see your point, but I'm not sure I agree 100%. The winning position in doubles is the net. If you and your partner have good net skills, only a few things can beat you: a truly great lob (not a common thing in 4.0), an excellent down the line shot (more common, but still hard to pull off time and time again), or a miscommunication on a shot down the middle (won't happen too much with good players). Hard-hit shots targetting the net man (or men) are often low percentage and you really have to hit them to beat a good team of net players. If everyone is back, you can easily hit 60% pace rally balls crosscourt ad infinitum until someone dumps one in the net.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
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  3. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    IMO, you can get away with weaker volleying skills at 3.5 and 4.0 as a singles player staying at the baseline and coming in on short balls. However, volleying is much more critical when playing doubles. 3.5 players with hitters and setters win at the net, not back on the baseline. I play both singles at doubles at 4.0, and volleying is crucial doubles. I would guess I hit five times the volleys in doubles compared to singles. Just a guess, but my volleys in singles are much rarer than in doubles.

    The 4.0s I hit against in doubles win at the net, not back. The strongest 3.5 doubles teams I see on the courts win at the net. Volleys are a skill. In doubles, the three biggest skills are getting the 1st serve in, the ROS and volleying. Just my thoughts.
     
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  4. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    ..........
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
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  5. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Sorry, but i won't sugar coat this.

    I think you are just not a good net player and are trying to make an excuse for staying back.

    Work on your net game if you are serious about doubles.
     
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  6. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I would have to agree.

    I tend to play mostly singles for exactly that reason - my baseline game is strong and while my net skills are ok for singles, they are not good enough against good doubles teams at my level.

    And note that 'net skills' is not just about volley technique. It also includes knowing when to attack the net, where to position yourself, and how to move when you're 'off the ball'. I find that last part particularly hard. In singles, I expect to hit every shot, I'm always on the balls of my feet, and I know where to position myself at the net when I come in behind a shot. In doubles, when my partner is making a shot, I find myself losing focus, not remaining on the balls of my feet, and not adjusting my positioning at net correctly to account for the shot my partner has hit / is about to hit.
     
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  7. escii_35

    escii_35 Rookie

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    At the 4.0 level people will have gaps in their game. Why am I a 4.0? BH, serve, ball redirection and consistency.

    Through years of mens night and social mixed I improved my serve, positioning and overhead but those darned static volleys just lagged. One day a nice tennis pro laid it out, "You have a glacial first step and lousy twitch." ... ouch ....

    For those of us not going pro or snagging a scholarship winning is about maximizing percentages. Pushers are a prime example. At the 3.5 level they win all the time. Once you reach 4.5, unless you have some serious wheels (shirtless) the percentages are in your opponents favor.

    My lowest winning % of at level doubles comes at mens night where everyone knows my game. The best, USTA mxd 8.0 where you never see the team again.
     
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  8. ian2

    ian2 Semi-Pro

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    "In a neutral position, most of the time the net player will eventually pop up one of my well-struck groundies for an easy put away." Sure this happens, but at 4.0 and above a far more likely outcome is net player putting the volley away...

    My regular 4.0 doubles partner and I figured, through trial and error, that "two back" is the most efficient formation for us when receiving serve, given that both of us have better-than-average goundstrokes but are mediocre volleyers. However it would be stupid to give up the net position when serving, as that would take the pressure away from the opponent's return of serve and rob us of the opportunity to quickly finish the point at the net if the return was less than stellar. And even in the "two back" situation the money is on transitioning to the net behind an aggressive approach shot, and finishing the point there.
     
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  9. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    To everyone: Thank you for the participation. You seem to feel 4.0 doubles requires one up/ one back to get the most out of your team. You must be on to something as all of you are coming to a similar conclusion.


    You're half right.. my partner does not like the net at all. My volleys are 4.0; good touch and little to no problem with covering half the court - one area which could use improvement is the body shot. Any advice? I use the tecnique where the racquet is always in the bh volley position to be ready for the body shot. As far as making an excuse: I really do feel that baseliners will eventually overtake net players just as it happened in singles15 or so years ago. Apparently nobody feels that way even about the measly skill rank of 4.0.

    Hmm. Are you sure at 4.0?

    I think this is the best strategy (compromise) for me and my team. Great post.
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm working on my net game, I really am.

    But I'm finding that the combination of solid topspin groundstrokes coupled with a nasty lob often beats two 4.0 players who are hell bent on taking the net. It is just too easy to put it at their feet if they try to anticipate the lob, or lob if they try to close at net.

    Without an offensive lob, two taking the net beats two at baseline, definitely. Once you back them off of the net some, it isn't so hard to hold your own with groundstrokes until you have an opportunity to approach.
     
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  11. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    No... doubles requires two up to get the most out of your team.

    It's just a matter of how you get to be two up.

    When you're serving the most straightforward path is for the server to follow his/her serve up to net.

    When receiving there are more options: either receivers partner starts at the net and receiver attempts to work his/her way up there, or they both start back and try work their way to the net together. Either way, the goal is the same.
     
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  12. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    even in high level college doubles matches (5.5 level tennis), I will often see players at the baseline because their groundstrokes are so well developed and, coversely, their netgames under developed, that they have a much better chance of whacking groundstroke bombs.

    Myself, I am alway going to net because I think if I am given a ground stroke or a volley of equal difficulty, I am much more likely to win the point with the volley.
     
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  13. KoaUka

    KoaUka Rookie

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    ^ What he said. Chip and charge works well
     
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  14. tennis4josh

    tennis4josh Rookie

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    I do not agree. I play 4.0 doubles and rarely see baseline player forcing an error from the opponent at the net. Typically the net player pops a volley only when he is caught off balance or when he is exchanging reflex volleys with net players on the other side of the court. There is more to a good doubles net player than good volleying skills. The net players job is to not let the opponents get comfortable in a baseline exchange. He should do everything possible to distract the opponents playing from the baseline. If he is just waiting at the net for a ball to come his way then he is not *playing*.

    I agree that one up one back does not work in all the cases. If you are not able to get your serve returns past the opposing net player, it's better to have your partner start from the baseline and then both of you work your way to the net. But remember that most of the winners in doubles are hit by the net players.

    -Josh
     
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  15. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    The top spin lob is tricky on both ends, but boy does it feel good when struck cleanly.

    I have a friend I've partnered with. He never comes to the net but has a killer forehand. Very rarely do any of the net opponents come up with a decent reply... I mean it's frightening how hard and flat he hits it to the extent that good net players move either back or to the side to avoid being clobbered.
     
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  16. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    Ok people. I just pulled up a youtube video of the Bryan brothers playing Nestor and Zimonjic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C-pEt8d9ts

    I am astounded by how many points are won by the baseliner and/or lost by the net player. Many of their volleys pop up aka. shots which would be "cake" from the baseline. Now keep in mind that these guys are the best in the world and perhaps reconsider the possibilities at the 4.0 skill level. I wonder if net play and its inefficiency in doubles in many situations will be revealed just like it did on the singles tour many years ago. Maybe eventually we will see better quality tennis that makes sense and attracts more fans to the doubles tour..
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  17. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    You're really missing some important points in your observations. You're so focused on the moment the point was won/lost that you're not taking into account what lead up to that moment.

    For example, let's say my partner hits a well-placed serve that forces a weak return, which I step over and put away. The point was not won because I'm good at the net; it was won because my partner hit a good serve that set me up. It's the same as if the setup was for an easy mid-court put-away on his side: it was the serve that really won the point. Similarly, if I hit a weak and/or predictable shot that my opponent smashes at my partner, the point was not lost because my partner is bad at the net; it was lost because I hit a weak or predictable shot.

    Instead of focusing on the last shot of the point, pay attention to the one or two shots that preceded it. In good doubles, most of the time the point is won or lost with those shots.

    Also, if you're constantly finding yourself in neutral rallies on serve, then your serve isn't good enough. If you're constantly getting into neutral rallies on return and losing, then either you're not doing enough with your returns against weak servers (against whom you shouldn't be getting into neutral rallies) or you are hitting good returns and not doing enough with your following shots. (Against good servers, you'll probably be on the defensive most of the time, so neutral rallies should be rare.)

    On serve, you should be working on placement, variety, and the ability to spot your opponents' weaknesses and tendencies so that you can exploit them. On return, you should be working on either hitting more effective returns or on strategies for your following shots.

    The goal is to set yourself up with easy put-aways. The easiest putaways are floaters at the net, because their are more angles to work with and less chance of hitting out. Even a mediocre volleyer can have a field day if he and/or the partner are good at setting up points.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yes. Exactly. In women's 4.0 doubles, I am finding very few women who have a serve that is so strong that they have any business coming in behind it routinely.

    I am finding the opposite with the men (8.0 mixed). My partners have so much smoke on their serves that the opposing guys often cannot return them at all or return very defensively (or maybe their return games aren't so hot). Still, my male partners simply will not follow these serves to net.

    It's weird because I find myself thinking that my female partners should stay back and my male partners should come in.
     
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  19. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    It's not always about the power though. There are people who can handle flat serves no matter how hard you hit them (I love it when the other guy goes for the heater; the faster they hit it, the faster it goes right back at them off my racket). Even mediocre pace can cause weak returns if the placement is good and forces the returner to stretch. Sometimes, even a completely mediocre serve to the weakness (usually the BH) can be more effective than a smokin' flat serve to the strength.

    A good server is one whose serves consistently cause weak returns, not necessarily one who consistently hits hard serves.

    If your mixed partners are causing such weak returns all the time and don't want to come to net, you should be poaching on almost every first serve. If they hit a weak return DTL when you try to poach, your partner should be able to chase it down from the back.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  20. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Show me one 4.0 that hits groundstrokes with as much pace and accuracy as any one of the 4 guys in that video, and I'll agree with you. Hardly fair to highlight the popped up volleys without remembering what kind of shot caused the volley to be popped up. I contend that true 4.0 net skills will defeat 4.0 baselining in doubles. Will they lose points, sure, but its harder to hit perfect passing shots and lobs for 2 or 3 sets than it is to stick good volleys for the whole match.
     
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  21. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    QFT. I have a pretty good flat serve, and I use it very sparingly in doubles. At my level, even the women can handle pace. When I do serve flat, it is twice as effective because it is unexpected. Serving is all about mixing it up and finding the returner's weak spot.

    In doubles, I S&V about 100% of the time on first serve, and about 75% on second serve. It puts so much pressure on the returner, and if you know how to position yourself, most lobs present no problem. And if someone is hitting topspin lobs off your serve, you have a serving problem not an S&V problem.

    However if your net game is poor (either in execution or positioning), then you probably need to stay back more. It's like any weakness in your game--you try to avoid it if possible.
     
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  22. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    Conventional wisdom isn't ALWAYS right.

    The conventional doubles wisdom notwithstanding, I agree with you about staying back until you can create an opportunity to move up. I get so sick of people who automatically buy into conventional wisdom regarding tactics simply because it IS conventional wisdom. No, you don't have to be at the net to win in doubles. What you DO have to be is skilled in other areas if you want to stay back more. I play a ton of doubles and I am at the net less than half the time. In fact, I only come to the net as opportunity presents itself. However, because I played singles almost exclusively for years, I developed a very consistent, very accurate lob, and I use it any time I get a good opening. I also have developed a strong down the line shot. You can use whatever strategy you like---there is no one size fits all in spite of what ANYONE says. You simply have to understand the fact that to employ certain styles of play, you have to have the strokes that allow you to do so successfully. When Evert and Borg played, everyone said you couldn;t win coming in. Then when Navratilova and McEnroe played, everyone changed and said you couldn't win staying back. It's about 80% based on what the current trend in professional tennis is and that always trickles down to everyone else. You can win using whatever style you like if you are good enough at it and execute it strategically and consistently. It is possible to win without a big serve. It is possible to win without a great backhand. It is possible to win without an awesome net game. It is possible to win without staying back. And it is possible to win without coming in. Depending on your skill level and mindset, it may be more or less difficult to do so, but as with any strategy, it is not all about what it is but also about how well it is executed. With racquet technology what it is today, you can absolutely win from back in the court. You have to have shots to do it, but that applies to being ont he net as well. Your margin for error is greater at the net because of the angles, but you have more time to prepare and hit if you're further back. Mixed bag. Do what works for you and don't apologize to anyone for your strategy. As a lifetime KC Chiefs fan, I hate to quote Al Davis, but he was dead on target when he said, "Just win, baby."
     
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  23. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    Disagree.

    It all depends on what you do well. Your volleys may, indeed, be superior to mine. In fact, I'm sure they are. But I spent years developing strong, accurate passing shots and lobs, and I hit them every bit as well as good 4.0 doubles players hit their volleys---usually better. It isn't about one shot being better or worse than another---it is about how skilled the player is at executing that shot. There is no hard and fast rule here. My passing shots and offensive lobs are better than most 4.0 volleys because that's my game and I built it that way. It works.
     
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  24. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Mmmm, yes and no.

    Rafael Nadal does not "consistently cause weak returns," but I would say he is a "good server." I think that definition is setting the bar too high.

    I would say a good server is someone who can serve in such a way that the returner cannot do whatever he wants with the return. If your serve is good enough to prevent the returner from hitting lobs, drop shots, sick angles, teeing off and generally having his way with you, then you are a good server.
     
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  25. ian2

    ian2 Semi-Pro

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    To OP: thanks for posting that youtube video, very fun match! Somehow I'm not seeing what you are seeing though... I see a "traditional" doubles game, with both teams aiming to take control of the net. There are quite a few groundstroke winners, as expected for this caliber of players, but far more points ending with a volley winner.

    This might be a better illustration to OP's point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QQR_gpyweU&feature=related. A bit more unorthodox doubles. Still, the majority of points are won at the net.
     
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  26. jjs891

    jjs891 Semi-Pro

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    I much prefer that someone hits at me with a hard flat shot than facing someone who can bend the ball with spin and vary the pace and angle. If I know the ball's coming at me, all I have to do is to get the racquet out front and block with a firm grip.

    Also in doubles, it's not always his and my half of the court to cover. Often times both partners can be in the same half of the court to cut off the angle, dependent on where the previous ball lands in the court.
     
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  27. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    A vast majority of points put away by volleys were either set up by a solid groundstroke or just as easy to put away from the baseline. Also notice that many put away volleys are the result of the opponents losing control of a volley.

    I know it goes both ways.. sometimes the volleyer sets up the baseline partner, but if you analyze each point and then tally, you will see that most are the other way around.
     
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  28. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Just to be clear, I agree with you. One shot isn't necessarily better than another. But I can tell you that the net is the winning position in most doubles matches. Your passing shots might be good, but are they good enough to hold up over the whole match? I'd be floored if they are, since even the pros have strokes that break down under the pressure. Passing shots have to be pinpoint perfect to beat a good net team, whose volleys only have to be somewhat precise to be winners.
     
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  29. tennisee

    tennisee Rookie

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    Just wondering - The OP has the username "Lawn Tennis", so I thought the thread might refer to that but I'm guessing that's not what you play? I play exclusively on lawn during the lawn season, and no one at any level plays two back...
     
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  30. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    Never stepped foot on grass unfortunately. While not used now as in the past, lawn tennis referred to tennis as we know it regardless of the surface. The name distinguished it from table tennis and similar sports rather than describing the surface.
     
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  31. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure I'd agree about Nadal. I would say he's an adequate server. In the past, like so many other clay courters, his serve was just good enough to start a neutral rally, and he worked all his magic after that. His opponents didn't win many points directly from their returns or the following shot, but he himself didn't win many points directly from his serve or the next shot. So, not bad but not great either.

    Lately, he's added a bit more power and has focused on improving his placement, and it's won him some more easy points. But, he's still nowhere near someone like Ivanisevic. Even though he can serve roughly the same speed, Nadal just doesn't have the placement and variety that Ivanisevic does (even today on the old folk's tour).

    That's why I mentioned power earlier. There, you've got two guys who can produce pretty much the same power, yet one is an adequate server and one is a fantastic server. The difference comes down to placement and spin.
     
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  32. 813wilson

    813wilson Rookie

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    LT, I agree with Ian's view. Now I may have tallied a point or two incorrectly(because the video moves quickly) but here are my observations.

    1-Spaceman had a good point about the set up of how the point was ultimately won. In that, a great serve/return/groundie is what opens the court for net and closing opportunities.
    2 - There were 50 points shown in that video(again i might be off by point or two). Interestingly:

    Serving team won 25 points, 12 of which were won by the net player on the serving side. 13 won by the actual server.

    Receiving team won 25 points, 16 of which were won by the receiver and 9 won by the receiving team's net player.

    Seems like a pretty standard doubles to me with a goal of closing the net when available.

    AND, thanks for posting. I'm now "jonesing" for the Australian....!
     
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  33. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    It is difficult to really credit and discredit. For instance, the first point of the video: You likely tallied that as point won by net player, however, you could also argue that it was lost by the opponent's net player. Had Bryan been at the baseline a reply to that shot would've been easy as opposed to impossible from the net. Sure playing the net takes time away from your opponents but it also takes time away from you!
     
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  34. 813wilson

    813wilson Rookie

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    ^^^^
    LT,

    I disagree with your rationale. I did tally the 1st point as won by serving team's net player(Nestor). However, if I were going to alter how the point would/could have been played....

    I'd place blame on Mike Bryan's return of the serve. It was too close to Nestor and that made for an easy put away volley.

    To base altering the point on Bob's positioning is flawed. If you assume the only change in the point is Bob at the base line, I'd argue that Nestor would have just played a bit more angle and somewhat of a stop volley. The volley he hits is done at Bob's feet on purpose.


    To your comment about base line positioning - Zimmer loses the very next point in a fashion you suggested. He's at the base line and Bob's volley gets by him.

    I guess it is apples and oranges. Both are good for you but they look and taste different from one another.
     
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  35. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    I agree that the first point should be labeled as won by the net player, but you could say it was assisted by a combination of a good body serve, a weak return, and a badly positioned net player. I also agree that had Bob been at the baseline instead, Nestor would have angled the shot or dropped it, but Bob would've had a chance as opposed to a shot in the dark from the net.

    The third point negates the second point. Are we going to go through the entire video, lol :)
     
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  36. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    I have to agree with Orange here. You may be a 4.0 and you may think you win more back or with one back, but better teams take the net. I recommend that you continue to work on your approach shots and your first volley. If your groundies are as good as I'm picturing them, you'll be a 4.5 player once you improve your net game. Keep at it!
     
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  37. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    As a 4.5 player who has played a lot of league tennis over the years, I can tell you there is more than one way to win. Stick with what works for you. I totally agree that a lot of the netplay at 4.0 is suspect. I also know from experience that a lot of people follow the conventional wisdom about how to play tennis when it's totally wrong for some people's games.

    You have to maximize your own talent and create reliable ways to break and hold. That's what it's all about. For me personally, I've found that great ground strokes beat great volleying up until somewhere towards to top of 4.5. As a 4.0, I was able to hit through people with good hands. Even at the lower lines on a 4.5 team, I can still cause trouble for good volleyers. But the very best 4.5s have such good hands and such good anticipation that they can dominate if you let them attack the net first. At that level, a baseliner has to take more chances, disguise shots, hit behind people, and really rip the ball off of both sides. If you don't, the team that gets on the net first will have the advantage.

    Also, I'd like to add that a great net player paired with a great baseliner can do a lot of damage in doubles. The baseliner can set up a lot of opportunities for the netman to cross. Of course at the higher levels, people are typically good at almost everything.

    Don't listen to people who say you're just not good at the net, or you don't understand how tennis is "supposed" to be played. All points count the same, no matter how you win them.
     
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  38. anantak2k

    anantak2k Semi-Pro

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    All I will add to this thread is that, from USTA tournament matches that I have seen. Every team at the 4.0 and 4.5 level that I have watched in finals have excellent skills at the net. Most don't do so great at the baseline but at the net they hit some beautiful volleys.

    I mostly play singles but when I play doubles, if we go up against a team that plays for the baseline its an easy win 90% of the time. Both my partner and I have excellent ground strokes which helps us against these 2 on the baseline team. Since we hit groundies better than most teams we often get easy floaters that the person at the net can easily putaway.
    However against teams with good volleys we have a very difficult time.
     
    #38
  39. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    Maybe my bias is showing through here, but I really think this guy understands the dynamics of doubles on through the ranks more than any of us. Thank you for your response.
     
    #39
  40. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    YES, YES and YES! All things being EQUAL--the team that controls the front lines wins the war. It's the GEOMETRY of the game--from closer to the net, you can angle off high shots for winners.
     
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  41. snark

    snark Rookie

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    Actually, I agree somewhat. I also find that staying at the baseline wins more points for me (a 4.0) than going to the net early. My volleys are actually pretty solid as are my ground strokes, but transition game is less so. If you cannot move forward smoothly and quickly, moving to the net is not going to be an advantage.
     
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  42. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    I agree, but it's only true if people can execute the shots. In particular, the first volley at the service line is a tough one--maybe the hardest shot in tennis. There is a reason they call that part of the court "no man's land". Also, if you want to attack the net, you'd better have a killer overhead. Most of the top 4.5s and up have these shots, so they can take advantage of aggressive court positioning.

    If you don't have these shots, you're intentionally putting yourself in a weak position. That's not good strategy. Ultimate, your abilities should drive your strategy. If you can nail that shoestring volley, come on in. If you cannot, you better stay back, or it will be a short match (if you are playing me). Conversely, if you can't hang in the back court, maybe you should try your chances at the net. Of course the goal is to be strong everywhere, so you can do it all, but today's game is more about imposing your strengths than being well-rounded.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
    #42
  43. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    Interesting stuff Zman. I think to an extent I follow what you mentioned. I do come into the net quickly when I gain the upperhand.. even in singles I close in on the short ball though more often than not it's an approach groundstroke rather than a volley.
     
    #43
  44. snark

    snark Rookie

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    That's exactly right. Also, you have to be able to move forward fast enough to make sure the first volley is not too low (or even worse, a half-volley). Otherwise, it is a difficult shot even for the best players.


     
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  45. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    The other piece of that is the serve. If you can't serve big enough to keep people from jumping on the return, you will have a harder volley.

    Just to play devil's advocate, if your game is focused on attacking the net, and you find that a baseliner is giving you trouble (passing, lobbing, etc), things aren't going to get any better if you start playing back. You have to stick with your "A Game".

    One last observation: Net-attacking players dominate at the very top of 4.5. The older players who get bounced between 4.5 and 5.0 are almost all net-attackers. However, at the 5.0 level, you get quite a few young guys who recently played college tennis. They might have played doubles in college, but they are still really baseline singles players. Like everyone else, they have been coached to attack the net, but all of the junior tennis they played makes them baseliners at heart. As they get older, they will come in more.

    Very few players over the age of 40 stay back at any level. This is partly because they can't chase balls anymore and partly because the game was played differently when they were learning. It will be interesting to see how recreational doubles changes over time as more people who grew up during the baseline era enter 4.0 and 4.5 levels.
     
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  46. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, the number 1 players in their age-group like the Charlie Hoevlers and Steve Cornells, come to net on every point and eventually break-down the passing game of their opponents. They are in the cat-bird seat up at the net.
     
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  47. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

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    The trend of baseliners has been growing for some time. About what age do you think they will transition their games to more net? And as string and racquet technology continue to favor baseliners, how will this affect this group?

    I know one of the few - he gets around quite well and credits it to his slim build. I hope there will always be a sizeable group of serve n volleyers.. really makes the game interesting.
     
    #47
  48. snark

    snark Rookie

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    Well, if you are good at getting to the net you should definitely continue doing so. If you are getting outplayed so be it.

    As far as the serve is concerned, it can be tricky. A slower serve typically allows for a better return but also gives more time to get to the net. A hard flat serve will win more points outright, but the return often comes back like a rocket giving you no time to move into position. I would say that a somewhat slower but well-placed serve may be optimal for moving forward.



     
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  49. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yup.......
     
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  50. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    LOL. Ok. The difference is that the pros at the net seldom if ever make unforced errors on volleys. At the 3.5/4.0 level of play, players make unforced errors all the time on fairly average balls. Yes, at the higher levels that may not be the case, but the vast majority of players lie in the 3.5/4.0 range. At my 4.0 level my shots don't have to be exceptional to "hold up over the whole match". A decent rally punctuated by a well-placed lob when my opponents are hugging the net is often the point-ender at the 4.0 level. Watch 4.0 doubles matches sometime and see how many points are won and how many points are simply lost. A low, flat, solidly-struck groundstroke right at a net-hugger's bellybutton or diving at his feet wins me the point outright a full third of the time at this level. A good lob and down-the-liner are even better. I understand what you are saying, and there is some element of truth there, but I have never believed you can simply take a set of tennis strategies and apply them across the board to all players. It makes no sense to come to the net in doubles if you are a poor volleyer or your opponents have shots that you can't cover once you get there. Tennis strategies are general in nature and work as generic ideas, but smart players play to their strengths. I remember when everyone taught that you couldn't hit an effective forehand with an open stance, but that you had to step around, turn your body, etc. And now I watch pros hit whatever they want with an open stance and have no problem with it at all. Some of what the tennis community still teaches as gospel is leftover thinking from an earlier age. It still works, yes, but it isn't the only thing that works. Strategy and tactics that were sound when everyone used a 75"-faced wooden racquet (then) don't necessarily hold water when your opponents have graphite cannons in their hands (now). With today's racquets (stiff, strong, powerful, oversized) it is not such a big deal, at least at the 3.5/4.0 level, to hit good balls past or over net players. People don't try it because they've always been told they shouldn't---that it can't be successful. Ok, cool. I hope all my 4.0 doubles opponents come to the net every game, every match, all match long. I never grow tired of poking holes in old theories.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
    #50

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