7.0 mixed dubs: poaching on your partner's weak serve

Should a guy playing 7.0 mixed poach when his partner has a weak serve (other guy returning)?

  • Yes, going for lots of poaches is the only way to get the hold

    Votes: 13 81.3%
  • No, poaching when your opponent has a short, soft ball is gambling / suicide

    Votes: 3 18.8%

  • Total voters
    16
#51
I played some 7.0 mixed in USTA last week. Our opponents were high 4.0 W and average 3.0 man. The woman was very good, but she had a very difficult time with my poaching on my partner’s serve. I mostly faked but poached on big points and it worked as she hit hard but straight down the middle and I put them away.
With the guy I had a harder time because he was on the ad side and the poach would be with my back hand. So I just faked a lot and put pressure on him. He hit quite a few wide, so I’ll take a little credit for that. Anyway, I really do think you’re giving points away if you don’t poach a little or fake often even on weaker serves.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
#52
I play 8.0, not 7.0, but I always cheat to the middle and leave a lane in the alley until my opponents actually hit it there effectively and repeatedly. Even if the opponents try to hit the alley once or twice to "keep you honest", how many times do they go to the well during an entire match even if you continue to ignore it? 2? 3? You'll get far more points poaching or at least closing off the middle than you'll lose up the alley. If an opponent hits several up the alley and shows me that they are not only capable of making that shot but also comfortable doing it repeatedly if I force them to, only then will I cover the alley. Not many players in the 3.0-4.0 range do that, though.
 
#53
So this week I got a chance to play some mixed and decided to up my aggressiveness at the net. Faced a couple that were weaker returners and after beating them handily 6-3 6-2, they changed tactics since I was killing their weak returns. They played 2 back and started lobbing returns crosscourt. Totally took me out of play and frustrated my wife causing her to over hit. Lost the 3rd set 6-1 and it was the most dreary tennis.

My general rule is, if it’s social tennis, and the opponents start playing 2 back and lobbing everything, I’ll finish the set, thank them for the match and cross them off my play list. Tournaments and league where scores are recorded, win any way you like. But social matches? If I want overhead practice I’ll drill it with my wife in our practice sessions. Actually ended up with quite a crook in my neck from constantly looking up.

Anyway just another reason not to be Uber aggressive at the net. They’ll just start lobbing at 7.0 mixed levels. And while you can take the moral victory from forcing that strategy, it’s absolutely dreary tennis.

I did learn that I need to work on my wife’s touch game. The way to defeat the two back lobbers is to hit short angles and drop shots and those are not in her wheelhouse.
DT
my wife and i play socially every monday with a friend who is a great mover and can cover everything.
as this is a social match, i wont drill it at the female, but try to hit a good shot to the guy, or behind him
if he is on as he is always coming in, he wont miss and the point is over, so we play two back
and try to lob the returns over them, especially his partner, and we both try to come in.

it changes the defense to offense, as they will try to block or lob it back, and we will have to hit an good shot or overhead.

you have to do something to change the tempo of the match to be in your favor, or it will be over.

z
 
#54
Do you equate social tennis with not being competitive or not trying to win?
You can be competitive and not focus on winning. Especially in doubles. If I wanted to just win at all costs in a social mixed match I'd put my wife in a corner and play against the opposing lady. I'd likely end up divorced. instead I let my wife take her lumps and if she figures it out we're good, if she gets frustrated and gives up, we lose. All I focus on is a) making a very good shot when its my ball and b) being in the right position when its not my ball. I never propose strategies to take my partner out of the game "because they suck". Not in social play.

Lobbers don't frustrate me but I don't enjoy it beyond a certain amount of practice. They frustrate my wife as she doesn't have the armamentarium to deal with it. That leads to boring tennis for me, frustrating tennis for her and a feeling of "why did I show up." for both of us.
 
#55
Should guys in mixed poach off of weak serves? Of course!

Where did you get the idea that you should ease up on the opposing man unless he stands still and gives you an open path to blast the return to his weak-serving partner?
With weak serves, you have to poach early which means there is good chance you could get passed up the alley. you have to poach early cause if not, you can't catch up with big blasted ball crosscourt. usually this is not a problem but if you have a partner that looks at you dirty if you get passed in the alley... then chemistry isn't as good
 
#56
DT
my wife and i play socially every monday with a friend who is a great mover and can cover everything.
as this is a social match, i wont drill it at the female, but try to hit a good shot to the guy, or behind him
if he is on as he is always coming in, he wont miss and the point is over, so we play two back
and try to lob the returns over them, especially his partner, and we both try to come in.

it changes the defense to offense, as they will try to block or lob it back, and we will have to hit an good shot or overhead.

you have to do something to change the tempo of the match to be in your favor, or it will be over.

z
As long as you start 2 back and try to get in, I'm ok with it as a strategy. I have no problem with lob returners. I just get back to the service line and get ready to OH the ball. It's people that just lob everything, over and over again and never try to get offensive. That strategy bores me largely because it takes away any of the tennis shots I like to hit and leaves me with overheads and lobs for 2 hours. Good practice but thats not fun tennis for me (or anyone else I've ever come across).
 
#57
As long as you start 2 back and try to get in, I'm ok with it as a strategy. I have no problem with lob returners. I just get back to the service line and get ready to OH the ball. It's people that just lob everything, over and over again and never try to get offensive. That strategy bores me largely because it takes away any of the tennis shots I like to hit and leaves me with overheads and lobs for 2 hours. Good practice but thats not fun tennis for me (or anyone else I've ever come across).
i like to hit overheads, its just like hitting a serve, except the in box is much bigger!
i recall one mixed usta match, where the opponents complained all my partner did was lob, i pointed out
that they did the same. i guess the difference was that i could hit some overhead winners. to be fair to them, my partner didnt hit that many short lobs.

typically in competitive tennis, the opponents will give you shots that they think you dont like. they would be foolish to hit shots that you do like.

z
 
#58
I will admit that poaching is a weaker part of my game, but I don't see how I can poach when the opposing guy is hitting a waist-high ball from the middle of no-man's land. I either have to gamble and leave really early, or I won't have time to move very far. But more than that if the opposing woman is hitting a weak, short serve to me, I get offended if the other guy tries to poach. If he stays I will hit a cross-court approach shot to her almost every time, or maybe lob him. If he starts moving then I will start mixing in the hardest, flattest returns down the line (and possibly through his chest) that I can hit. In my head there's a gentleman's agreement that I won't rip it down the line on a short, high serve if he doesn't try to pick off my "safe" returns. Players that poach on weak serves in general annoy me and help me focus on my returns by giving me a target. My ground strokes are much better than my poaches.

I mentioned this to a teammate and he thought I was crazy. He said, "How can she possibly hold her serve if you aren't poaching like crazy on both sides and trying to disrupt their returns?"

So what do you think: should guys poach on weak, short serves to try to pressure their opponents into mistakes? Do you feel it's poor form to target the opposing guy at point-blank range if his partner's serve is really weak and short, unless he "earns it" by moving during your return?
Try the fake poach.

As soon as your partner's serve bounces in the opponents service box make a move toward the middle like you're going to poach then immediately move back to cover the doubles alley as they'll try to go dtl.

You dont have to move way over to the middle, just do enough to get their attention and then get back over fast because they'll be very tempted to take the bait.

I do this pretty often especially if my partner has a weak serve.
 
#59
The lob strategy is effective because the other team can't reliably put away OHs. It gets used less and less the higher one goes because everyone's OH is better and better and the lob is essentially a defensive shot [unless you can hit a really good TS lob]. If the other team knows this and wants to win, of course they will lob. Is it any different if you had bad anticipation and they drop shotted a lot? Or had a weak BH so they attacked it? Or are you saying that's all fine for competition but has no place in social doubles?
I think the big difference is that lobbing is a shot that requires minimal skill whereas drop shots and hitting to someone's weak side takes a higher degree of skill.
It's a frustrating strategy because it takes little effort to perfect it but to beat it takes a lot of skill. Put away overheads are a challenge for most players. Mid depth lobs are an easy skill to learn.
i like to hit overheads, its just like hitting a serve, except the in box is much bigger!
i recall one mixed usta match, where the opponents complained all my partner did was lob, i pointed out
that they did the same. i guess the difference was that i could hit some overhead winners. to be fair to them, my partner didnt hit that many short lobs.

typically in competitive tennis, the opponents will give you shots that they think you dont like. they would be foolish to hit shots that you do like.

z
I liked overheads in my youth. But my 54 year old body isn't too fond of them. Sore neck and shoulder is all I get out of this type of tennis. I guess its a question of, in social tennis, where do you draw the line? I won't go hard at ladies or drop shot old men in a social match, but I'd do it in a tournament. Similarly I won't play the lob game in social but if its a tournament I'll lob everything back at the lobbers until they realize that they aren't getting off the court before midnight.

I think you do play a bit differently in social. Largely because if you always take the attitude of giving the opponent crap they hate, you won't get invited to too many social doubles matches again.
 
#60
I think the big difference is that lobbing is a shot that requires minimal skill whereas drop shots and hitting to someone's weak side takes a higher degree of skill.
It's a frustrating strategy because it takes little effort to perfect it but to beat it takes a lot of skill. Put away overheads are a challenge for most players. Mid depth lobs are an easy skill to learn.
I think you're right. In the same way, pushers are reviled because they can win without having put in the same level of technique work; it offends people's sense of fairness. Well, life isn't fair. I guess pushers don't get invited to a lot of social tennis either [unless you need to train for a tournament and need to practice against that style].

I liked overheads in my youth. But my 54 year old body isn't too fond of them. Sore neck and shoulder is all I get out of this type of tennis.
Would a swinging volley solve the problem [easier on the body but allows you to be more aggressive with the lob]?

I think you do play a bit differently in social. Largely because if you always take the attitude of giving the opponent crap they hate, you won't get invited to too many social doubles matches again.
Agreed. I think it also depends on the expectations of the 4 people involved.
 
#61
Agreed. I think it also depends on the expectations of the 4 people involved.
Yes, there are general unwritten rules in social mixed in our club or else you risk being blackballed and losing out on invites. You don't lob every ball. You don't drop shot old men or old women. You don't serve 100 mph+ (if you can) at women. You don't take mid court short balls and hammer them at women.

You basically try to win playing "good tennis" rather than "ugly tennis" so that everyone feels good win or lose. If you beat people with "good tennis" they will invite you back for the challenge of trying to get better. If you beat people with "ugly tennis" they'll dismiss you (rightly or wrongly) and wipe you from their invite list.


Would a swinging volley solve the problem [easier on the body but allows you to be more aggressive with the lob]?
OK I barely have a handle on Overheads and now you want me to learn swinging volleys? My eyesight is too weak and coordination to bad to take balls moving vertically out of the air with a horizontal swing. I only will do that to moonballs. True lobs I can only hit as overheads or let them bounce and hit them like a serve. But I am trying to teach my wife to do that since she seems more adept at that than an overhead swing. I wonder if that is a gender thing since women pros seem to be better at swinging volleys than overheads and men tend to be vice versa.
 
#62
OK I barely have a handle on Overheads and now you want me to learn swinging volleys? My eyesight is too weak and coordination to bad to take balls moving vertically out of the air with a horizontal swing. I only will do that to moonballs. True lobs I can only hit as overheads or let them bounce and hit them like a serve. But I am trying to teach my wife to do that since she seems more adept at that than an overhead swing. I wonder if that is a gender thing since women pros seem to be better at swinging volleys than overheads and men tend to be vice versa.
Hey, I'm with you: I only recently started trying to learn the swinging volley and I usually dump them into the net. I was proud of myself last week when I actually hit it wide instead.

I've noticed the same thing about the gender difference and preference for OH vs SV. Upper body strength? Comfort zone? Coaching bias?

However, I remember playing doubles against a future Div I girl and she had a wicked BH SV that was better than anything I could have done with a regular volley or a BH OH.
 
#63
Hey, I'm with you: I only recently started trying to learn the swinging volley and I usually dump them into the net. I was proud of myself last week when I actually hit it wide instead.

I've noticed the same thing about the gender difference and preference for OH vs SV. Upper body strength? Comfort zone? Coaching bias?

However, I remember playing doubles against a future Div I girl and she had a wicked BH SV that was better than anything I could have done with a regular volley or a BH OH.
Yeah my wife pretty much swings at all her volleys and its amazing to me what she can do with some of them. I would be just directing them with my volley stroke, but she'll take a cut at them for better or worse. I think because she swings flat with an eastern grip she can line it up better than my more vertical low to high SW grip swing.
 
#65
I think the big difference is that lobbing is a shot that requires minimal skill whereas drop shots and hitting to someone's weak side takes a higher degree of skill.
It's a frustrating strategy because it takes little effort to perfect it but to beat it takes a lot of skill. Put away overheads are a challenge for most players. Mid depth lobs are an easy skill to learn.


I liked overheads in my youth. But my 54 year old body isn't too fond of them. Sore neck and shoulder is all I get out of this type of tennis. I guess its a question of, in social tennis, where do you draw the line? I won't go hard at ladies or drop shot old men in a social match, but I'd do it in a tournament. Similarly I won't play the lob game in social but if its a tournament I'll lob everything back at the lobbers until they realize that they aren't getting off the court before midnight.

I think you do play a bit differently in social. Largely because if you always take the attitude of giving the opponent crap they hate, you won't get invited to too many social doubles matches again.
there is nothing wrong with drop shoting "old men or ladies", i am sure they will do it to you whether its social or competitive

z
 
#66
Maybe that changes with level. At 4.5 here, I can't really think of any "strategy" or "shot selection" that could get someone a side-eye. Drop shots, lobs, flat shots, spin, everything's all part of the game.

And I don't even mean that some shots are "tolerated", it's just that it doesn't seem like anybody would even notice if someone picked an unusual strategy, other than to figure out how to counter it.
 
#67
there is nothing wrong with drop shoting "old men or ladies", i am sure they will do it to you whether its social or competitive

z
Nothing wrong with any of the strategies, but if you play an older couple and insist on drop shotting everything once you realize they can't get to anything, i guarantee you won't get an invite back to play with them ever again.

And your definition of old might be my age and my definition of old may be 75+
 
#68
Hey, I'm with you: I only recently started trying to learn the swinging volley and I usually dump them into the net. I was proud of myself last week when I actually hit it wide instead.

I've noticed the same thing about the gender difference and preference for OH vs SV. Upper body strength? Comfort zone? Coaching bias?

However, I remember playing doubles against a future Div I girl and she had a wicked BH SV that was better than anything I could have done with a regular volley or a BH OH.
I really struggle with every shot, but swinging volleys destroy me. I think that since I'm near sighted with a severe astigmatism, but have now reached the age that I sometimes need to use reading glasses, that my eyesight blurs and I actually lose the ball for a second on swinging volleys. It's really weird, but I'm probably just looking for an excuse.
 
#69
Eh, I bet it's more simple than that. It's just practice. Shots you hit a lot are comfortable. Shots you never hit aren't.

How often have you gone out and practiced swinging volleys, and how often do you actually use them in a match? I bet it's not very much for the both of those.
 
#70
I really struggle with every shot, but swinging volleys destroy me. I think that since I'm near sighted with a severe astigmatism, but have now reached the age that I sometimes need to use reading glasses, that my eyesight blurs and I actually lose the ball for a second on swinging volleys. It's really weird, but I'm probably just looking for an excuse.
If you keep practicing, you'll find that you can do much better...coming up with creative excuses! :D
 
#71
At my level of play, if my opponents can't outright put away my partner's patty cake serve, I have to pretty much fully sell out to poach it if we want to hold. However, another thing I seem to encounter at this level of play is partners who can't dynamically react to the play, so if I cross that center line to poach and for whatever reason, don't put the ball away, my partner in these cases will all too often be back around the baseline directly behind me and unable to cover the returned ball because they didn't dynamically switch as I ranged over to poach. Then of course I'm hearing what a ball hog I am, or how they were "there"... Of course it's also tricky too because with a super weak serve, the opponents can quite literally do ANYTHING with it and I have to stay home because they can just change their swing at the point of contact and push the ball down the line if I've stepped too early.

This leads me to either a) attempt to do too much with a poached ball to ensure the putaway, which then leads to me making unforced errors or b) just not bother trying to poach anything but a pure gimme. With that said though, if could get a regular playing partner that could be dynamic and move following the ball and the progress of the point rather than stick to her predetermined section of the court to play in, I still believe that aggressively poaching returns of a weak serve is the way to go. Perhaps that would be different if played at a higher level, but that's my sense of it now.

As my coach says, they don't call it mixed troubles for nothing...
 
#72
However, another thing I seem to encounter at this level of play is partners who can't dynamically react to the play, so if I cross that center line to poach and for whatever reason, don't put the ball away, my partner in these cases will all too often be back around the baseline directly behind me and unable to cover the returned ball because they didn't dynamically switch as I ranged over to poach.
I have a couple partners in mixed and men’s doubles who I know will always be where they last struck the ball. They drive me crazy. And again a reason not to actually poach.
 
#73
I have a couple partners in mixed and men’s doubles who I know will always be where they last struck the ball. They drive me crazy. And again a reason not to actually poach.
I feel like this is a low level 3.0/3.5 problem more than an intermediate and up level thing. When I watch better players playing doubles, the independent dynamic movement of each player on a team is much more smooth.
 
#74
How do you guys poach on weak serves ? Do you just go Early knowing that its possible returner will go behind you ? but then if you go way too early then it is easy return up the line. and if you don't go early, you can't catch up to the ball crosscourt. and if you go way too early then returner goes behind you.

Weak serve is usually taken early and crushed so you have even less time to cross and poach so that is another reason you have to go way too early.
 
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#75
How do you guys poach on weak serves ? Do you just go Early knowing that its possible returner will go behind you ? but then if you go way too early then it is easy return up the line. and if you don't go early, you can't catch up to the ball crosscourt. and if you go way too early then returner goes behind you.

Weak is usually taken early and crushed so you have even less time to cross and poach so that is another reason you have to go way too early.
Please bear in mind that my own comments are coming from the perspective of a relatively new player (I've only been playing about 2 years and all at the rough equivalent of USTA 3.0 and 3.5 - ALTA C1 to B5) and from the mixed doubles perspective only. I've never hit against a woman that had a serve I would consider challenging and only once had a partner (my wife) who had a serve that I considered more than a patty-cake serve. So with that said, my basic approach is to ask my partners who are the real patty-cakers to try to serve towards the T, so at least if the opponent tries to return the serve down the line on me when I'm at the net, their shot will have to cross in front of me. Then I make the opponents prove that they can beat me down the line at least twice before I ease off on the aggressive poach attempts. At the 3.0/3.5 level, as long as my partner has even the littlest bit of control on her serve and can serve towards the center line, with anything but the easiest fluffy sitter, this is usually reasonably successful - or at least has some success, as in we hold her serve once or twice, where it would otherwise be love-breaks the entire match.

*edit* Oh and one other thing, at this level, a lot of weak servers get a very false (imo) sense of security about their weak serves. I hear constantly "At least I didn't double fault!! I haven't double faulted in 3 seasons!" because again, at my low level, the "zero pace" ball represents a challenge for impatient and inaccurate players which many of us are. Admittedly, I will play a filthy drop or junk ball on a fluffy sitter more often than not because I don't trust my own ground strokes on a zero pace ball... /*edit*

All of what you're saying though is often true too. I have to sell out totally for the poaches and if the returner has any skill or consistency they just eat up my patty-caker partner's serving games. Then, invariably I have to listen to the patty-caker tell me how great they are the net and how crappy I am because we hold all my service games and lose all of hers... mixed troubles... :rolleyes:
 
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#76
Please bear in mind that my own comments are coming from the perspective of a relatively new player (I've only been playing about 2 years and all at the rough equivalent of USTA 3.0 and 3.5 - ALTA C1 to B5) and from the mixed doubles perspective only. I've never hit against a woman that had a serve I would consider challenging and only once had a partner (my wife) who had a serve that I considered more than a patty-cake serve. So with that said, my basic approach is to ask my partners who are the real patty-cakers to try to serve towards the T, so at least if the opponent tries to return the serve down the line on me when I'm at the net, their shot will have to cross in front of me. Then I make the opponents prove that they can beat me down the line at least twice before I ease off on the aggressive poach attempts. At the 3.0/3.5 level, as long as my partner has even the littlest bit of control on her serve and can serve towards the center line, with anything but the easiest fluffy sitter, this is usually reasonably successful - or at least has some success, as in we hold her serve once or twice, where it would otherwise be love-breaks the entire match.

All of what you're saying though is often true too. I have to sell out totally for the poaches and if the returner has any skill or consistency they just eat up my patty-caker partner's serving games. Then, invariably I have to listen to the patty-caker tell me how great they are the net and how crappy I am because we hold all my service games and lose all of hers... mixed troubles... :rolleyes:
Just show her on 1 or 2 of her service games by just staying fixed at net and don't poach at all or even attempt it. and see how she does with blasted return crosscourt at her. and after she loses both service games and tell her, see that didn't go so well, and that is the reason I have to help you, if I don't help you, you can't hold serve and go home crying. and if I help you, we have a chance
 
#77
Just show her on 1 or 2 of her service games by just staying fixed at net and don't poach at all or even attempt it. and see how she does with blasted return crosscourt at her. and after she loses both service games and tell her, see that didn't go so well, and that is the reason I have to help you, if I don't help you, you can't hold serve and go home crying. and if I help you, we have a chance
Oh man, you have no idea how badly I would love to do that. I'm not a great player by any stretch of the imagination. I have like 3.0/3.5 groundstrokes but I have a 4.5 serve. If my mixed partners cared as much about improving as I do, they'd let me help them... most don't spend any money on lessons, won't even watch youtube videos, and won't "practice" more than occasionally showing up for the team practices where we just do 4 game sets and rotate opponents...

My wife plays on at least two all womens teams every season and our mixed team between womens seasons, as well as some flex-league (T2/League) womens doubles teams. Every opponent she plays and every partner she has says "I LOVE your serve, I want to learn to serve like that!" and my wife points over to me watching with a cold one and says "My husband taught me this, and it took 6 months of blood sweat and tears, 5 days a week." (which is essentially true).

Anyway, sorry to sound self-aggrandizing, but yeah, I really want to help these ladies get it together or at least get on a path, but they are content. There is a very disturbing trend in this area with the low level ALTA stuff to undervalue serving, which I guess probably makes sense, but it bugs the sh*t out of me to hear "I haven't double faulted in 3 seasons!" when I know they hold fewer than 10% of their service games.
 
#78
Oh man, you have no idea how badly I would love to do that. I'm not a great player by any stretch of the imagination. I have like 3.0/3.5 groundstrokes but I have a 4.5 serve. If my mixed partners cared as much about improving as I do, they'd let me help them... most don't spend any money on lessons, won't even watch youtube videos, and won't "practice" more than occasionally showing up for the team practices where we just do 4 game sets and rotate opponents...

My wife plays on at least two all womens teams every season and our mixed team between womens seasons, as well as some flex-league (T2/League) womens doubles teams. Every opponent she plays and every partner she has says "I LOVE your serve, I want to learn to serve like that!" and my wife points over to me watching with a cold one and says "My husband taught me this, and it took 6 months of blood sweat and tears, 5 days a week." (which is essentially true).

Anyway, sorry to sound self-aggrandizing, but yeah, I really want to help these ladies get it together or at least get on a path, but they are content. There is a very disturbing trend in this area with the low level ALTA stuff to undervalue serving, which I guess probably makes sense, but it bugs the sh*t out of me to hear "I haven't double faulted in 3 seasons!" when I know they hold fewer than 10% of their service games.
you have to prove to her that if you don't poach and take chances, she has NO chance of holding. but if you poach and bother the opponents, they will make more errors which would give your team better chance of wining overall
 
#79
you have to prove to her that if you don't poach and take chances, she has NO chance of holding. but if you poach and bother the opponents, they will make more errors which would give your team better chance of wining overall
Yep, I agree, and that's where my own lack of skill/consistency comes in, unfortunately. I'm not always able to play as well as I'm capable of, and some days it's laughable how poorly I play. This past weekend's match I was pretty "on" - serving lights out, but my groundies were all over the place and I blew a number of mid court sitters almost unforgivably badly, and I blew a couple "gimme" shots at the net. My partner was a patty-caker server who could at least put the ball closer to the T which gave me more chances. We won 6-1, 6-1, and of the two games we lost, one was one of her service games, which I could have held, but blew a couple net shots I should have had, and the other game was one of their service games where I blew a couple critical mid court ground strokes that made the difference... for the rest, my partner was otherwise very consistent, if not particularly dominant, but kept points alive long enough for me to get the putaways or for the other team to make mistakes.

So yeah, I just am doing what I can do to get tuned up for mens dubs which starts in a month. I just took over as team captain for my local mixed team (and it's really administrative stuff, not like I have some sort of great tennis mind or anything), and people on the team have been responding favorably to me and the way I'm doing things. I'm stressing being encouraging and creating a low-pressure atmosphere and trying to make useful practice sessions when people show up. It's funny how so many of the women on this team who have been playing on it for years and years, have all these bad things to say about men that USED to play on this team - how those men were ball hogs, how they tried to poach everything, how they double faulted... meanwhile where are those men playing now? Those men are playing ALTA B-1/A-7, USTA 3.5/4.0, and these ladies are all still playing ALTA B-8... but it's a friendly neighborhood team, so it's more important for the players to have a good time than to be pressured (this is why the last captain stepped down).
 
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#81
Please bear in mind that my own comments are coming from the perspective of a relatively new player (I've only been playing about 2 years and all at the rough equivalent of USTA 3.0 and 3.5 - ALTA C1 to B5) and from the mixed doubles perspective only. I've never hit against a woman that had a serve I would consider challenging and only once had a partner (my wife) who had a serve that I considered more than a patty-cake serve. So with that said, my basic approach is to ask my partners who are the real patty-cakers to try to serve towards the T, so at least if the opponent tries to return the serve down the line on me when I'm at the net, their shot will have to cross in front of me. Then I make the opponents prove that they can beat me down the line at least twice before I ease off on the aggressive poach attempts. At the 3.0/3.5 level, as long as my partner has even the littlest bit of control on her serve and can serve towards the center line, with anything but the easiest fluffy sitter, this is usually reasonably successful - or at least has some success, as in we hold her serve once or twice, where it would otherwise be love-breaks the entire match.
I think that's great strategy. At the very least, you're getting into the head of the returner, which could be worth a lot of points.

*edit* Oh and one other thing, at this level, a lot of weak servers get a very false (imo) sense of security about their weak serves. I hear constantly "At least I didn't double fault!! I haven't double faulted in 3 seasons!" because again, at my low level, the "zero pace" ball represents a challenge for impatient and inaccurate players which many of us are. Admittedly, I will play a filthy drop or junk ball on a fluffy sitter more often than not because I don't trust my own ground strokes on a zero pace ball... /*edit*

All of what you're saying though is often true too. I have to sell out totally for the poaches and if the returner has any skill or consistency they just eat up my patty-caker partner's serving games. Then, invariably I have to listen to the patty-caker tell me how great they are the net and how crappy I am because we hold all my service games and lose all of hers... mixed troubles... :rolleyes:
It's because the server is only concentrating on what can be seen and ignores that which cannot be seen: serving more aggressively might result in DFs but that's OK as long as the # of service winners or setup shots for you is greater in number. But, like a net player who camps in the alley and leaves a gaping hole in the middle large enough to drive a truck through, he thinks he's doing his job. He's only thinking about himself, not the team.
 
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