What's the right shot? (volley/overhead)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by rk_sports, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    Here is the situation --
    Doubles match.
    I serve and come in on volley,
    returner hits a lob over my partners head.

    If it's decent lob, I have to stop on my approach to net and move laterally and hit a weak high backhand volley.

    If it's a good lob, I have to stop on my approach and run diagonally to the other corner and try to let hit a hard overhead or lob back to gain time.

    What are ideal shots for this situation?
    Should the partner take that shot on?
     
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  2. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    I reckon it's going to highly depend on the serve. If this is 3.5 or 4.0, 4.5, 5.0? Men or women. If the serve is a slowish or even a flat serve I find some returner can lob it pretty accurately. If the serve has lots of spin the movement and torque it causes when it hits the racket makes it difficult to hit a good consistent deep lob.

    I find this is the net man's responsibility but if I get caught trying to poach diagonally forward, it is hard to come back for the lob but I still think it's the net person's responsibility. As the net person can hit this lob a bit more offensively. The incoming guy has to re track and by that time the lob is usually too low to hit a smash.

    Now the server has to hit a volley deep in no man's land or if they let it drop your team in put in a very defensive spot which you don't want in doubles. My best guess is the net man has a slightly tougher overhead especially if he was caught poaching but him hitting a mediocre smash still enables the server not to break to much momentum and still take the net. If it's mixed, just get used to it as most women don't like hitting smash and won't hit any medium short lobs in that case I say you need to stay back and let it drop and hit a forehand. I found it difficult to serve and volley in mixed as the women would get lobbed too much. Next time I'll stay back.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013
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  3. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    If they lob your serve often,
    serve and stay back until you get better at serving.
     
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  4. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    This is one of my pet peeves. I have had plenty of partners who thought the way to handle any lob over their head was to watch it and see what I could do with it. Usually, as the OP says, it means the server has to execute a difficult high backhand volley from deep in the court after stopping and retreating diagonally. I also love having to steer it around my partner who by then is in the way.

    If it is a really good lob to the baseline, the server may have to deal with it as the netman can't get back in time.

    The default rule should be that the netman must try for any overhead on his side, and if he isn't going to get there, he should still retreat and switch sides to cover the cross court reply.
     
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  5. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    If you're relatively new to tennis, you serve and stay back in doubles. This means that if your partner is lobbed, you'd cover his lob and he'd switch to your side.

    At higher levels, both players come to the net. That sounds like what you described, you're going to the net. This means that your partner should cover lobs on his side. When players are too slow to read a lob and cannot cover lobs, then I don't think the team is ready for the 'two up' formation. If your partner just plants himself at the net, you can't really come to the net, 'cause as you've pointed out, they lob the immobile player and your team is in a weak position to deal with this. I think you need to stay back on your serve with partners like this.
     
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  6. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Yes, I was going to say that as well.
     
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  7. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    When I serve and come to net, I want my partner close to the net to attack any weak returns.

    If the opposing team lobs over the net man, I cut over and handle the lob with a swinging high backhand volley.
     
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  8. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    I agree with the first part but I'm not even sure I see the best doubles teams in the world hit effective swinging backhand volleys from no man's land consistently. The easiest solution is to serve better, sometimes they might get a really deep lob but most of the time it'll be short to medium/short.
     
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  9. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    This is reminding me why the lob return is such a good weapon.

    I disagree with the idea that it can only be used against a weak serve. In fact, if the serve is weak, I'm looking to drive it, not lob. I'm more likely to lob against a serve that is beating me. I mean, what do I have to lose?
     
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  10. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    Hmm.. 'swinging high backhand volley' from the retrieving position? I so wish I could do those ;)

    Serve better -- that's given ofc.
    My serve is decent, but I'm not talking about every serve being lobbed. I hit a good kicker and this guy is one of those old tweeners with loads of control and he hits the bunt lob from over shoulder height,not always successful, but this thread is for those times when he is successful
     
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  11. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Still I think you are missing the point.

    Only run to the net if your serve is strong. You should know by the moment you hit if your serve is any good or not. If it is not strong do not run to the net.
     
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  12. Rui

    Rui Rookie

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    Decent lobs: Your net man may be too far forward. Have your net man play a couple of steps back. That will discourage only "decent" lobs.

    Good lobs (that land deep) are a different story. Some people will tell you those are the lobbee's problem. Only a bad doubles partner would say that. In most cases the staggered back person has a better play on the ball.
     
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  13. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    On a good deep lob, the incoming server is already in NML and in a good position to cut across and hit the swinging high bh volley.

    I don't do much with this shot but I am able to get it back deep and keep the point going.

    OTOH, my partner is usually not that adept at scrambling backwards to hit a defensive overhead, so this strategy works just as well as having the net man cover the lob.

    We win more points by having the net man play in close and attack the weak returns than we lose on the occasion that the opponent hits a good lob.
     
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  14. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Yep, I think that newpball and Rui are on the right track. Your partner should be in position so that you as the server will join him/her at the outset of the action. If you can't successfully go to the net behind your serve with that constant lobbing, it's time to adjust. Have your partner start with you at the baseline or else in position up forward, but a couple steps back so that it's harder for returning opponents to effectively lob.

    If that lob gets over your partner and you run it down, I say you're perfectly within your rights to nail your partner in the back with your shot. That should sort things out in short order - gotta switch sides when your partner covers your back.

    As far as the "ideal shot" goes, no two scenarios are exactly alike, but you also don't want to be too predictable and hit the same shot every time you're faced with that situation. Your response needs to deny your opponents a strong position. Counter lob, hit a low ball short so that your opponents are forced to shovel that ball up where you can drive it, or maybe get under that lob in time so that you can crack it. Keep your shot deep and away from trouble and you've done well.

    If you can get behind that lob that's not too deep, it's not hard to close up your stance and hit a two-handed heater when the ball is above your head on your backhand side. It feels like I'm throwing the racquet over my shoulder with this move (my right shoulder - I'm a righty). Once you practice this shot a little bit, it's not hard to control and I work on it sometimes with the kids I coach. It's not always an option, but it can be a much stronger alternative than that weak one-handed high volley.
     
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  15. travlerajm

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    A little known secret about doubles optimal strategy:

    At the amateur level, for a team with a right-handed server, the standard doubles formation is rarely the strongest formation. This formation has a serious vulnerability (the lob return) if the net person is not really good at covering his own overhead.

    And if the net person cheats back to prevent the lob, he is giving up his advantage of being able to cover the cross-court return over the middle (the easiest return).

    In the deuce court, for most amateur players (especially when the server's net person is not very strong), the Aussie formation is a much stronger base formation. It has the advantage that the server can easily cover a lob return to either side (it's very natural to roll left to right to smash an overhead - it's actually easier to go diagonally to your right behind your partner than it is to back straight up on your own side).

    I use the Aussie formation almost exclusively when I serve on the deuce side in mixed. And I also use it whenever my partner (whether male or female) is not as comfortable at net or as mobile as I am. This way, I can have my partner cheat closer to the net, which really helps strengthen the formation (since my partner will be the target if he/she is weaker than me).

    On the flip side, the Aussie formation is not ideal for the deuce court if the server's partner is a stronger net player than the server. In that case, it's often better to start with standard formation, but use the poach frequently (easier to poach left to right to get a forehand volley putaway).

    When my partner serving in mixed (or when my partner is weaker than me), I like to use Aussie as base formation in the ad court, and poach nearly 50% of the time. I poach less from this formation if my partner's forehand is his/her stronger side.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
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  16. mntlblok

    mntlblok Professional

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    A *lot* of good stuff in this thread - more so than in most of the threads I read. Of course, this is not the typical subject, and probably isn't even thought about by many players.

    I can add that, as the lobber of the service return (from the deuce court), and as one who often uses it as an approach shot - even in old man tournament play - the most devastating response over the years has been by the fellow who has, at times, been ranked number one in the world in our age group. His partner had poached and the server had come in, crossing behind him. He didn't hit the swinging two-hander, but rather hit a high, slice backhand overhead down-the-line. And, I do mean *down-the-line*. It all but hit the line. Sure took the starch out of my "approach" to the net. :mrgreen: It doesn't hurt that he's 6'8". . .
     
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  17. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    Aha! :idea: this is interesting! Only issue seems to me that this is forcing the server to stay back, right?
     
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  18. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Not at all - I always serve-&-volley in doubles. I still look to get to the net to hit an offensive first volley. This formation discourages the returner from using the lob return, because with a well-timed split-step, I will be in position to take any lob with an overhead smash. Once you get to net (and both of you are at net), the rule of thumb is to have the weaker player always stay at least several steps closer to net than the stronger player, to balance out the effectiveness of each player and keep the opponents from picking on the weaker net player.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
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  19. TimothyO

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    True whether in doubles or singles. I played a 4.0- in singles the other night who insisted on following every serve and even ground strokes to net regardless of pressure they might apply. He had a decent flat serve but even that could be returned deep. It was a friendly, casual match so I simply passwd or lobbed him or hit with topspin to drive the ball down into his feet. But against more ruthless players in league play he could be easily pinged coming in behind such weak shots.

    Close the net when you pressure an opponent with deep, well places shots with good pace. Following in lesser shots leaves you vulnerable.
     
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