What do you do with your doubles partners that always serve wide?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by AR15, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    On my men's 3.5 team, and especially on the mixed teams I play on, I have several partners that serve from the allies, and serve wide on almost every serve. As the net guy, I feel like I'm floundering around attempting to make something happen (poach) under difficult circumstances. Most serve returns are going back extreme cross court, and if I try to get a head start on them, the returner goes up the line.

    What do you do when this happens?
     
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  2. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Just stay in position. You can't do anything, so don't get too aggressive.

    You could ask your partner to go into the T and you will try poaching if the serve goes in, but otherwise there's not much you can do.

    If your partner can really go out wide with pace, like half way between the service line and the net, then I would chance a poach. BTW, you should not be standing within 2 racquet lengths of the net. Stand about 2 feet inside the service line and get ready to cut the ball off diagonally.
     
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  3. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    Ask them to move over and serve down the T more to take away the angles and mix it up. If they don't listen or can't control their serve placement you can't worry about it. Just deal with it.

    Attempt to poach, fake lots of poaches, stay back at the baseline with the server occasionally then move in after the return and the point gets going, use the Australian formation, or use the I formation. Lots of options to mix things up.
     
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  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Easy.

    Use signals. If you signal go and the serve is wide, take off earlier. If the returner rips it DTL, perhaps this will encourage your partner to serve middle.

    Also, signaling gives you an opportunity to request a T serve.

    I serve wide a lot on the ad side. It is an easier serve for me, it goes to the receiver's BH, and most partners wont dare poach with their BHs anyway.
     
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  5. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    I rarely get to play with the same partner, and most of the "wide servers" i'm talking about, don't want to use hand signals, formations etc.
     
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  6. jaybear1909

    jaybear1909 Rookie

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    I play with a partner that does this, but it's usually in our favor. He has a big kick serve (not tons of pace but it kicks a good amount to the right). By the time the opponent gets to it he's already about 3-4 feet outside the alleys.

    At 4.0, people have a difficult time returning this. If they don't time it right it will come right at me/down the middle (easy poach). It's also a difficult shot to redirect down the line since it's a deep serve.

    If he does it too much though, our opponents get in a groove. They either learn to run around it (his toss is very obvious) or start to hit their backhands well. When this happens I try to get him to mix it up (he's got a hard flat serve that he can put wherever he wants, just not as consistently as his wide serve).

    Juking also works wonders. Tons of times I've faked to poach and stayed where I was. 7/10 times they try to beat me down the line. Easy volley at that point (I still manage to screw it up sometimes though). Try to poach as they make contact. If you poach too soon they'll easily redirect the ball. You can usually tell the direction someone is hitting by: Watching their eyes, watching their body turn and being aware of their point of contact.

    I wouldn't ask your partner to move depending on where he wants to serve. It's way too obvious. Does he stand so far over because he's afraid he might hit you? Possibly get him to stand about 2-3 feet left of the dash on the baseline. This way he can hit either a wide serve or DTL. You can stand a little bit more toward the alley while he's serving as well, if that's the case.
     
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  7. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    Interesting thread. This is my first year playing doubles and I didn't know about hand signals or any of that stuff. I tend to move around for variation, but I never serve from the alley.
     
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  8. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    I don't envy your position in that I greatly dislike it when any of my partners serve from the alley. The net man should cover the alley and your partner serving wide makes you move further over toward the alley to protect it. I've found it much more difficult to poach on serves hit from the alley wide because of the extreme angle.

    I greatly prefer my partner serving from near the center of the court and serving down the "T" most of the time on both ad and deuce side. It makes the angle returning down the alley almost impossible and sets me up for much easier poaches.

    Yet I don't control where my partner stands or where he serves so I just do the best I can with what I'm given. You should do the same. If you're bold enough explain fully as you have here why you're having difficulty with his/her serving from the alley (s)he may just try something different and maybe better for you as a team.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
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  9. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    I'm a pretty dedicated "pound the backhand with kickers" player so on the Ad side I'll serve easily 90% out wide. If I am serving out wide on the ad side then I want my partner to cover the line and I am covering the middle. In my experience until you get to the 4.5 level there are so few players who can attack that serve with the sharp angled return so it simply isn't something that needs to be worried about. Thats the return I am more than happy to let my opponents attempt.

    But if your partner is really serving balls out wide and the opposing team is hitting clean winners cross court off of it then the first thing to do is to go Australian which makes your partner move to the middle of the court to serve. It takes away the wicked cross court return and makes the opposing player go back down the line.

    If the opposing team is still hitting clean return winners then you should be able to easily tell your server to keep the ball down the middle to eliminate angle. At that point the server should be up for trying anything different that you suggest.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
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  10. rabidranger

    rabidranger Rookie

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    You're just going to have to hold your ground. Most 3.5s I play with can only dictate serve direction if they take a ton off, so you're probably better off taking your chances with a hard, wide serve. At the very least your partner should have plenty of time and space to do something with the return.
     
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  11. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I have no problem with a partner serving wide, as long as it's a decent serve. In this scenario I prefer to stand closer to the net rather than further. This gives me more opportunity to cut off a crosscourt return. I give the receiver more of a target down the line, but that's ok... it's a low percentage shot assuming the serve is decent.
     
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  12. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    I'd think it would depend on the returner. Until he lobs, I'd positioning myself to follow the wide serve right up on the net. Give the returner the lob or extreme cross court angle and punish anything else. Staying back at the service line gives the returner the entire court if he can keep the ball fast, low and sinking.

    If the returner shows a soft return with a tendancy to lob I'd play back a bit nearer the service line. I just hate getting caught with the screaming return at my ankles...
     
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  13. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    Agree with this. I also notice it too if I'm returning. If the server has a quality wide serve it's often hard to get the return angled enough to keep away from an active netman who's leaning towards the middle and close to the net, and like you said the down the line is just a low-percentage shot (not that I won't try in an attempt to back the net-guy off the poach a little for future returns). Quality wide serves are great for the netman to just hedge towards the middle (close to the net) and pick off anything reachable, imo.

    If it's a weak-ish serve that can be easily directed down the alley, then I'm not sure how much you can do, I'd likely just stay my ground at first to see how the points seem to be playing out w/o poaching, since it's just a tough spot to try to poach. If we're getting the worst of it that way, and they insist on continuing to serve out wide from the alleys, I'll try and mix it up (either becoming more active at net, or trying 2 back, or something) to see if anything sticks, but at that point things are probably not looking great.
     
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  14. goober

    goober Legend

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    Since OP was playing 3.5 mixed, I will say mostly likely his female partner did not have a great out wide serve. At the 3.5 level there are very few women that are going to have good serves so going out wide usually will set up opponent for an easy FH on the deuce court. If you have a weaker serve it usually better to go up the T or at least a body shot so the passing angles on the return are not as a great. On the ad court it usually going to the BH, so generally not as much of an issue.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Always serving wide is a 3.5 idea that insures the server will get a chance to hit another ball, keeping the netperson out of the way.
    Oftentimes, 3.5's like to play points, NOT win points, on their service games.
    I talk to a few of my partners about this, and they always say that's their best serve. But in reality, they want to hit the ball, and take me out of the game. How do I know this? Because when I DO poach and win the point, they serve even slower the next point.
    Winning tennis is serving mostly up the T, then out wide when the returner cheats that way. That involves both players into the point.
     
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  16. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Nothing you can do about this. Cover the alley - where you can take one step and get the down the line and leave it up to your partner to start the rally cross court, if it continues wide and short, cover the alley; if he brings it back to a deeper type cross court ball then move accordingly. It is your partner's issue if he starts wide - and he or she needs to cover the short angled returns. That is a server's job if he goes wide
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The wide serve from the doubles alley is quite a good strategy as it troubles players who have weak backhands or cannot move up quick enough.
     
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  18. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I have had a ton of success serving decent kick serves to receivers' backhands. Obviously this means a lot of wide serves to the ad court when facing righties. My partners don't mind because they get a lot of putaways at the net.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    That's HALF your points. What about duece court, serving wide to the FOREhand side?
    Did you fail to read the "ALWAYS" in the title of this thread?
     
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  20. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Serving wide is generally better I thought?

    If you serve the T, the net person has more court to cover.

    If you serve wide on either side the angles are actually smaller. Most of the time someone blasts a winner DTL on me is when my partner serves the middle. I rarely get someone burning me DTL on a good serve out side.

    Both sides.

    I feel like I hit more winners DTL myself. I burn a lot of people with my BH DTL if they serve a duck on the forehand side because they try to poach.
     
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  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I will sometimes stand in the deuce alley to serve. I do this when I have a returner who is struggling with spin serves (dead give-away: giant racket). I position wide, and they usually mirror my position. If I slice wide, they are off the court. If they don't have a monster FH, I can volley the next ball up the middle.

    Even better is to slice it up the T from the deuce doubles alley. The receiver is standing wide, anticipating the FH. If I slice it up the T, it hooks into their BH, and a lot of people struggle with that.

    I tend to do stuff like this if my partner has stone hands at net. In that case, I would prefer to keep her out of the points unless there is a floater, and serving wide does that.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    In both the above cases, NEITHER of you serve ALL your serves wide.
     
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  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, I guess I was reacting to the bit about people who serve from the doubles alley.

    When my partner is serving, I make a mental note of their position before each serve. Some people mix it up, and that can cause me to let a ball go through, unaware that they were serving from the doubles alley.

    Also, if I see my partner serving from the doubles alley, I will probably move back off the net. A lot of people like to lob the net player and make the server run the full distance of the baseline to catch up with the ball. Since I probably cannot poach if she is standing really wide/serving wide, might as well make myself useful by discouraging the lob.
     
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Very good idea, thanks.
    As you know, I"m too lazy to look back at my server.
    Good strategy!
     
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  25. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    this is what makes doubles fun. When I see the server out wide and the net person back off the entire center appears to open up like the red sea.
     
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  26. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Nothing in doubles is more exciting than seeing your partner hit deep, hard t-serves.
     
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  27. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    When you serve from the ally, even your serve down the tee is coming at such an angle that it's that it's likely to be returned the opposite direction it came from, thus making a difficult poach for a net man (unless pre-planned by partners).
     
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  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Totally agree.

    But if your partner is going to serve from the alley, ya gotta decide what you'll concede because you cannot cover everything.

    In my world (4.0 and seniors), very few partners can run from the deuce doubles alley over to their BH side to reach even a poor lob, let alone play a decent reply. Better for me to be off the net and make the returner go crosscourt, where my partner can hopefully reach the center ball with a couple of steps.
     
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  29. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    This is what you do. this is lower level than what i am used to. but ask your partner to at least try to learn the up the middle serve. If not, just stand out wide, almost on the doubles alley to protect the up the line return. That is only thing you can do.
     
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  30. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    You are at the mercy of your partner since serving from the alley wide to both sides creates a nightmare for the net person. The server has effectively taken his partner out of the equation. Why?

    -- The extreme wide angle forces the server's net man move even farther wide to cover the now wide-open alley.

    -- If the net man decides to naturally cheat and move toward the center anticipating the usual steep CC return he's gambling. But as soon as he moves the returner will just plant the ball DTL which is now not a narrow alley but a large triangle. The server is still on the other side of the world and will never get to a DTL shot.

    Although I'm quite aggressive at the net, I'm not willing to gamble on this one. If my partner is standing in the alley to serve and always serves wide, in my mind I'm wondering WTH they're thinking. But I know I'll get just one gamble poach and after that I'll be stuck like glue covering that now huge "DTL" triangle he's created.


    My eyes got BIG when I read this! Get out a sheet of paper and draw a doubles tennis court. Mark where the server, returner, opponent net man and your partner is standing. The returner will strike the ball from a very wide position thereby making the CC open position smaller and DTL becomes a huge football field compared to normal.

    Erase that. Now draw when a server is standing near the hash mark/middle of court and serves down the T. Draw where the returner will contact the ball about near the hash mark on the other side. Draw the angle from there directly through the opponent net man and end the line at the doubles sideline.

    Notice the line ends about at the service line? Very, very difficult to pass someone DTL when the ball is served from the middle of the court down the T (unless the net man has totally cheated and moved to the center of the court opening up the wide return).


    Spoken like a champ...

    Another one who is in-the-know...

    :mrgreen:
     
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  31. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Actually, I am not sure about this. Or perhaps I should say there are other things to consider.

    Say I stand wide in the deuce alley and serve up the T with slice. That ball is hooking into the receiver's BH. The easier return is to take that ball back to the server, and most deuce receivers are practiced with this shot.

    Changing direction on that ball is crazy hard, and few people can do anything more than steer it. For the receiver, it is low percentage.

    I would say that having the server serve from the deuce alley and up the T while the net player mirrors the ball is a good way to make the returner burst into tears.
     
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  32. PrinceMoron

    PrinceMoron Hall of Fame

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    Watch Nalbandian cream the ball down the line off any serve to the ad court, and you will soon forget about serving out wide.
     
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  33. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    If I am playing against Nalbandian then maybe I would readjust my strategy. But for my money up until the 4.5 level I'd greatly prefer having my partners serve out wide on the ad side until our opponent shows that they can attack off of that side.
     
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  34. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    oh, i thought op was talking about serving out wide on deuce court into the forehand side ?
     
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  35. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    shoot them

    /end thread
     
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  36. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    I know you think your "theory" is solid, but tennis is not a game of drawing lines on a paper.

    1) Serving down the T" on either side with a net person poaching leaves 1/2 to 1/3 of the court open.

    2) When pros serve the "T" they are usually playing "I" formation. Why? Because it exposes a potential weakness to the opponent, while the movement of the serving net player is predetermined.

    3) Serving down the "T" works at low levels because their net players hardly move, returns are going about 40 mph, shoulder level.


    Since people dont believe me, I would suggest watching a professional doubles match. They rarely serve down the "T" unless playing I-formation, and most of the times when they get burned DTL on a serve return, its because of a serve down the middle and not one out wide.
     
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  37. spot

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    NTRPolice- are you serious? Most serves in pro doubles go down the middle or to the body to cut down on the angle of return that is possible. You can't honestly think that most serves go out wide in Pro Doubles...

    I guess if anyone actually cares there will be lots of pro doubles on this afternoon in the US open weather permitting.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  38. spot

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    NTRPolice- here is an 'expedited' highlight of the 2010 Aussie Open final so you can watch for yourself and see how few serves they do out wide. This wasn't some sort of cherry pick- it was the first one I found.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C-pEt8d9ts

    If you think that simply a bad example then lets see an example from you.
     
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  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    NTRPPolice,

    Read "The Art of Doubles" or pretty much any book on doubles strategy.

    Most people can take their FH DTL than can change direction to take the BH to the alley.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  40. tennisplayer1993

    tennisplayer1993 Semi-Pro

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    i throw my racket at their face :)
     
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  41. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    For lower level rec players -- you're correct. Mostly they go out and whack the ball around and have a good time with with most thought about just getting the ball back. Yet at higher levels the game becomes much different when all 4 players on the court have sufficient skills to get the job done. It then becomes more like a physical chess match where automatic responses come up based on percentage tennis.

    If you go down to any large local library you'll see some books with gobs of charts, figures, and analysis based on percentage tennis. What you should do and why. You can throw caution to the wind and try any shot. If you want to win consistently percentage tennis is the way to go -- along with the lines on a paper!

    I'm not sure where you're going here or how you arrived at those figures without drawing it out on paper which I'm guessing you did not. I'll reaffirm on balance it is infinitely easier to poach when your partner serves from near the hash mark (middle of court) down the "T" as opposed to serving from the alley wide.


    No, they are not usually in the “I” formation when serving to the “T.” Most serves to the “T” they are not in that formation but any other.

    Yet, while IN the “I” formation it is generally best to serve down the “T” to maximize potential (which you’ve actually inadvertently affirmed my point). With the serve down the "T" the returner will not be able to hit to the middle (net man is there) and must choose to hit wide left or right. That's not an enviable choice in that both are lower percentage than having one big hole to hit to. Now the returner has a chance at hitting and UE wide.

    At lower levels anything can work because they’re more focused about hitting the ball back and not strategy or, “What will happen if I …” scenarios. At 4.0 doubles and up most guys will be decent at the net or they’d be playing at the baseline in singles. In higher level tennis, serving from the middle down the “T” works because it greatly reduces the chances of a returner hitting a DTL winner. And that holds true even when the net man is customarily standing 7’-9’ from the middle of the court.

    (The court is 36’ wide and each player needs to cover their half or 18’. When a ball is hit to an opponent to the middle of the court, both partners are up near the net and they’ll stand just 8’ from the center of the court. It may seem ridiculous to leave 10’ alleys open on either partner side but that’s percentage tennis. Give away the low-percentage alley shots and cover the middle.)

    That's the most egregious comment of all. If you’ve watched the Brian Bros video Spot posted you’ll see most DTL winners are off wide serve returns (not “T” serves). Watch other videos and you’ll see the lines on paper you dislike, the geometry, and the theory is validated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  42. OrangePower

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    Poaching by the net player is easier when the serve is down the T.

    However, in the scenario where the net player is not poaching but is staying put with proper positioning, it is harder for the returner to keep the ball away from the net player on good wide serves than on serves down the T.

    In this scenario, serves down the T leave the receiver a third of the court to hit into, in order to avoid the net player. On a good wide serve, the receiver has a narrow wedge DTL and a narrow wedge extreme cross-court (both low percentage shots), but a large swath ahead is covered by the net guy.

    Like someone else suggested, draw it out on paper and it becomes clear.
     
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  43. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    If that wide serve is good enough that it doesn't get returned or the receiver floats it back, that's one thing.

    What kills us net people is a mediocre serve out wide. The receiver has the option of DTL, CC, or drill the net man. I don't know about the rest of you, and I'm not the best net man, but when I have absolutely no idea where that wide serve is going to return, it puts me at a huge disadvantage.

    For the server with an average serve, as net man, I would prefer 80% go down the tee, and surprise the receiver with the other 20%. OR, a body serve is even better that a weak serve wide.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  44. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    You play 3.5. At that level I prefer 90% to the backhand until someone shows they can actually hit something big off of it. I really think that you are just overthinking this at the level you play.
     
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  45. tennis_ocd

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    Also, when playing as a good team (or in singles S&V), wide serves increase the possibility of the server getting passed on the way to the net.
     
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  46. dcdoorknob

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    Definitely agree that at 3.5 and lower, going by a "serve to their weaker wing" as a first course of action is a very good idea, instead of a "always serve to a specific spot regardless of opponents" philosophy. They're 3.5s, they don't have all the shots (of course we don't either :)), so making them try to come up with shots they don't have, or just hit their normal, mediocre, attackable shot that is why it is a weakness, is going to trump all these advanced line-drawing exercises that seem to be in this thread.
     
    #46
  47. BHiC

    BHiC Rookie

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    I am in 100% agreement with corbind on this one. With a good T serve, it is almost impossible to hit an inside out short angle consistently, an it is also very hard to change direction down the line. With an out wide serve, you open up the angle, and you open up the ability to go down the line, while a T serve is safer (lower net), and forces the opponent to return down the middle. When I play doubles, my strategy is to serve down the T at least 95% percent of the time. I don't care whether it is a lefty playing the deuce side, or a righty on the add side, my first serve is going to the T, and my second serve is going into their body. When at net, I poach whenever I see the serve go to the returner's shot closed to center (forehand or backhand). If it goes to the side farthest away from center, then I stay put and cover the line. Using this strategy, I recently made it to the semis of a men's open tournament, so I think that it works fairly well. In that tournament, I literally did not hit a single serve out wide, but served slice T for a first serve and kick T for a second on the Deuce side, and slice T for a first and kick body for a second serve on the add side.
     
    #47
  48. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    I've found very few 3.5's in my area that can't hit a decent return off an "average" serve to their backhand. If my serving partners were getting these backhand points for us, I wouldn't be complaining.
     
    #48
  49. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    What part of the country are you in? I just find that exceedingly hard to believe from my experience and I see a TON of 3.5 players play in Atlanta. I mean my girlfriend is a 4.0 player with a serve that probably doesn't touch 50 mph- Even in mixed when she can get to someone's backhand she still wins a ton of free points.

    Seriously I think that you are just overestimating how solid people are at this. Do me a favor and go out the next time with the goal of making the opponent hit every return as a backhand. I think you will do a ton better once you stop overthinking it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
    #49
  50. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    There are definitely 3.5's in my area that have trouble returning serves to the backhand. Those are probably the barely 3.5 players.

    I've been playing 3.5 USTA and our local league for about 3 years. I've been on a couple of teams that have made state playoffs.

    And yes, if we're up against a 3.5 with no backhand, serve wide on the ad side is usually the best serve. But, i'm playing guys that have the option to pass me dtl, or go cc unless my server is well above average.

    When I was playing 3.0, we served 99% of serves to the backhands, as it was very productive. At 3.5, most guys can return average serves to their backhands, but it seems many of my partners still have the 3.0 mentality.
     
    #50

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