Returning a slow, short serve in doubles

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by righty, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. righty

    righty New User

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    I have a OHBH that is serviceable in singles, and most of the time in doubles. I can handle fast paced shots well enough. My problem is that I have difficulty coming up with ways to return a slow serve, with hardly any pace or bounce on it, angled wide in the ad court while returning. In the deuce court I do not have this bothering me as much, even though the inside out BH is supposedly harder to execute.

    The server possesses a fast enough serve that if I step in before he delivers the serve he could hurt me with it.

    What ends up happening is I move in and hit cross court but with very little pace of my own. So the net person volleys it away, or the server gets to the net comfortable enough to put the next ball away.

    How best to counter it? Where should I be directing my returns?
     
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  2. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    Short slow serve in doubles? Crush at at the servers feet and come to the net. Easiest and most effective strategy out there. Run around the backhand if you have to.
     
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    If it's low, slice approach deep to the server's feet, usually backhand side.
    If it's higher than waist high, your choices are the deep slice approach or just crack a clean winner directly between the two opponent's as low as you can control.
     
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  4. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A wide slow serve in the ad court? I would hit it into the netman's alley, which should be not too difficult w/ a OHBH.
     
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  5. righty

    righty New User

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    Thanks folks. I sense that my problem is probably not one of tactics, but one of competence which requires more tennis lessons

    I do not know how to hit a low, short ball with no pace on it, over the net, but not too high and with enough pace on it.

    I usually end up slicing it and unless I can get it wide and just over the net, it's advantage opponents.

    Thanks again.
     
    #5
  6. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I play mixed and see a lot of women who have this serve. Basically, flat, low and wide to AD court. In singles, the easiest play would be to step in and play a slice if it is real low, or a topspin drive if you catch it high enough.

    In doubles, it is trickier with the net guy there because if it drops too low, it is more difficult to play a shot CC with pace.

    But, try to be sure to get up to the ball to catch it high as possible and try to bend your knees to get down to contact level. You can either slice it CC, top it CC, hit it low and hard at the netman or up their alley, or lob over the netman.

    Some of the better women can hit this low wide serve fairly crisply and fairly consistently. For me, it would be a sitter if I could drive it down the middle but it is a bit trickier playing an angle CC.
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Either way, it's better to slice it deep.
    You needt that continental grip for your next volley or overhead anyways.
    Slice is the best depth control. Depth is your best weapon when you're standing in NML.
     
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  8. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    If you are limited in your shots, then think strategy. If you are slicing back the return, keep it low so that the next shot by the serve has to go up and over the net. Follow the return of serve agressively to the net so that you are ready to win with your second shot.

    PS. It sounds like you could lob down the line over the netman when your opponent give you a weak serve.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    The lob DTL is also conti gripped slice, so live with it, use the slice just before moving to net position.
     
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  10. latefordinner

    latefordinner New User

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    Seems like your opponent has 2 vastly different serves, the "slow, short serve in doubles" and "a fast enough serve that if I step in before he delivers the serve he could hurt me with it." Most players have a tell on which serve they intend to hit (ball toss, starting location on the baseline, grip, where the doubles partner stands, etc...). Learn to read your opponents serve so you are not suprised by which one is coming your way.

    Most players also have a favorite go-to serve (kick serve to the backhand, slice up the tee), make them beat you with something else.

    Once you know the "slow, short serve" is coming, move in and pick your spot - server's feet if he is coming in, deep if he is staying back, dropshot or short angle, lob over the net players head, lob to the middle deep, your choices are endless if you are hitting from around the service line.
     
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  11. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    if you are encroaching into NML off of a short serve, you don't need to worry about depth, you are hitting into a short court with a relatively high net. In addition if you are going DTL from the midcourt your available court depth is extremely short, the exact wrong place to hit a lob.

    Slice does give access to depth, but in the OP's situation hitting to the deep part of the court should be pretty easy compared to avoiding hitting long.
     
    #11
  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Slice is your height and depth control.
    You need to be aware of the amount of court you can hit into.
     
    #12
  13. Rogael Naderer

    Rogael Naderer Semi-Pro

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    IMO this is exactly the opposite of what he should do, you think he hasn't tried this? You and I may be able to do this all day long but he stated he is having DIFFICULTY with the serve.

    I personally would try a topspin moonball!
     
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  14. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    You haven't specifically said this but I am thinking there may be 2 things that you can work on.

    #1 - footwork - be watching the ball as soon as he tosses it for his serve and the moment you notice it is a short serve MOVE! You don't want to get there just in time to get your racket on it ... you want to be there way before that. Make sure you arent waiting to see if it's coming over the net before you run ... run the instant you see that he hit it softly.

    #2 - keep your head down and stay with the shot until after you have hit it ... short low shots like that have a tendancy to make people look away before they hit the ball even more than a regular shot ... you have to make sure you dont do this and stay down on that shot.
     
    #14
  15. righty

    righty New User

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    Thank you!

    I happened to read this just before I went and played, and tried really hard to pay attention to both tips, and they helped.

    No, I still do not know how to put pace on a slow, low ball, but I am getting more balls over the net where the opponents could not immediately end the point.

    I still could not lob the short ball over the net person (as some others suggested) safely or consistently, nor crush the ball, but found a decent enough way to get that ball back cross court without losing the point almost immediately. I was able to eliminate the net person from poaching relentlessly, and over time, I think I can learn to add more pace.

    I lost only about 60% of the points compared to the usual 90% I lose against the tactic. That is encouraging.

    Thanks again.
     
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  16. In D Zone

    In D Zone Hall of Fame

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    AIM a target to return serve - never aim to hit your shots to the middle of the court. Recipe to get poached! Focus to get your shots more to the doubles alley - this will help you drive your return further away from the middle. Return serve with low slice or a loopy topspin. You may miss or over hit the first few times but stay the course, you will get the hang of it. Another key is foot work, you got to move into the shot rather than just reaching it with your racquet.

    You mentioned you have dependable BH, so why not hit a DTL shot to the net or an inside in fH -naling the net person with a surprise shot for trying to poach! Be alert - DTL shot normally gives you a soft volley back from the volleyer, ready to attack with a x-court shot or a lob over the net person.
     
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  17. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    The crosscourt angle is the best course. If you can get the ball there, you will most likely win the point. The footwork is tricky, but this tactic is better than the others, e.g. hitting at the netman, lobbing, etc.
     
    #17

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