Advice needed for playing against 2 strong serve and volleyers

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Played a doubles match against 2 strong serve and volleyers with decent to very good serves and very strong volleys. These guys together missed 1 volley the entire match, no kidding. and they were serving and volleying on every serve plus rushing the net on every 2nd serve returns and some 1st serve returns depends on if they hit a return solid at the time. We lost badly but I was again playing with the weakest link player as my partner. I told him we have to use the lob much more even though they had very good solid overheads because they were just getting too close to the net. Of course he didn't listen. Instead, he tried to serve and volley himself which I have to respect. But problem was he didn't feel comfortable with serve and volley since he doesnt' usually do it. So he missed many 1st volleys coming in.

Anyway, is there any special strategy playing these type of opponents other than what I already know,, which is get to the net 1st. I know that. Or just rip big winning returns all the time.. I know that too. Neither of these was possible because I was with a partner with relatively weak serve and doesn't like coming to the net.
 
Played a doubles match against 2 strong serve and volleyers with decent to very good serves and very strong volleys. These guys together missed 1 volley the entire match, no kidding. and they were serving and volleying on every serve plus rushing the net on every 2nd serve returns and some 1st serve returns depends on if they hit a return solid at the time. We lost badly but I was again playing with the weakest link player as my partner. I told him we have to use the lob much more even though they had very good solid overheads because they were just getting too close to the net. Of course he didn't listen. Instead, he tried to serve and volley himself which I have to respect. But problem was he didn't feel comfortable with serve and volley since he doesnt' usually do it. So he missed many 1st volleys coming in.

Anyway, is there any special strategy playing these type of opponents other than what I already know,, which is get to the net 1st. I know that. Or just rip big winning returns all the time.. I know that too. Neither of these was possible because I was with a partner with relatively weak serve and doesn't like coming to the net.
As the guy doing the Sing&Ving and Cing&Cing, what makes my life difficult are:
- consistent returners who rarely miss and make me hit more shots
- low slices at my shoelaces
- lobs over my net partner if he's too close to the net, especially when I'm on the Deuce court since to cover him I have to hit a high BH volley
- hard and flat straight at me
- hammering it at the net man: if he's a weaker volleyer than I, that takes me out of the equation after the serve
- step in and short-hop/block the return [last resort, as it's probably the most difficult of the options]

The simplest is usually to lob, especially when the sun is behind you or if it's windy. Not that many at 4.5 are great at OHs when nearer to the BL.

Bottom line is that you have to play the hand you were dealt, not only in terms of what shots you're capable of/comfortable with but also your partner's strengths and weaknesses.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I've been scolded to not to stand back too far because then the net man has time to pinch off anything middle-ish. But it's a tradeoff between that and being able to react in time and control the ball.
for sure, further back I stay to return the serve, more difficult to get the ball cross court and low. anything in the middle is easy pick off for the net man that is active.
 

TnsGuru

Professional
Good S/V's like pace. Low dipping balls with top or slow slice at their feet will at least slow down their volleys to give you a chance to pass or lob them. I tried going through a S/V in doubles and he just nailed each and every volley. Try hiting low so they pop up the volley and if they close in too tight lob-volley over their heads. I like taking the kick 2nd serve at a higher contact point and chip low so the volleyer has to bend and reach.

This will at least give them something to make them uncomfortable. When I did this our opponents stopped closing in so tight and hesitated trying to close in so fast because they didn't want to get lobbed again. Remember that the higher the ball is over the net the harder they can volley it. Lower volleys takes some finess to hit and won't have as much sting on it.

A good mix of low returns and lob returns over the net man will keep them guessing also. Just don't become predictable. Even the down the line return can work if you keep them guessing. I remember playing with someone who hit a very hard hit power slice and for some reason net players had difficulty hitting it cleanly. Not like your defensive slow slice but a very hard hit slice with pace kind of like the Doglopov type ball.

High defensive lobs seem to work to slow down agressive players too. Use this when you are in trouble and want to buy time. Baseline overheads aren't that easy to hit plus if you both close in after the lob you have the advantage to put the ball away with power or a drop volley if they are out of position.
 

zaph

Semi-Pro
The answer to the OPs question is simple, you lose. The team which controls the net in doubles wins, if they have good serves, good overheads and good volleys you are stuffed. Not the answer you want but doubles isn't the same as singles.

You could try lobbing and trying to make passing shots but good luck pulling that off against a good net team for a whole match. There is only one solution, you and your partner need to get better at the net.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Played a doubles match against 2 strong serve and volleyers with decent to very good serves and very strong volleys. These guys together missed 1 volley the entire match, no kidding. and they were serving and volleying on every serve plus rushing the net on every 2nd serve returns and some 1st serve returns depends on if they hit a return solid at the time. We lost badly but I was again playing with the weakest link player as my partner. I told him we have to use the lob much more even though they had very good solid overheads because they were just getting too close to the net. Of course he didn't listen. Instead, he tried to serve and volley himself which I have to respect. But problem was he didn't feel comfortable with serve and volley since he doesnt' usually do it. So he missed many 1st volleys coming in.

Anyway, is there any special strategy playing these type of opponents other than what I already know,, which is get to the net 1st. I know that. Or just rip big winning returns all the time.. I know that too. Neither of these was possible because I was with a partner with relatively weak serve and doesn't like coming to the net.
IMO, if you're staying back, you better have groundies that are a full ntrp better than everyone (ie. a 5.0 on a court with 4.0's)... and not a 90mph fh/bh... but one you can dink, roll, lob, keep low, and occasionally blast...
you give up alot of real estate staying back... presuming same level, you're usually gonna miss before i do.
normally i say, try to get to net before they do... but that also presumes you actually practice going to net... else you'll just be fodder up there, and everyone will see/know it immediately and pick on you.
but let's you don't want to go to net, or can't because they are there first, or have no skillz at net... then you better get reaally really really good at lobbing to push them back. study everything you can about how to become a lob queen.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I am actually very good at net and serve and volley 89-90 % of the time. but I had a partner that day that didn't like going to the net and felt much more comfy at baseline. I told him you need to lob even though they are hitting some good overheads. and try to come to net before they do. He didn't listen about the lob but to his credit, he did try to come to net more by serve and volleying but after missing 2 easy volleys in a row, he completely stopped coming in. and rest is history.

My partner was by far the weakest link on the court, so of course I tried to do more and overplay the middle trying to take away the middle completely on my own. but that opened up the cross court angle on my side and being good players they were, they were able to hit those angles too.

So my point is when you have partner like this, you can't turn him into good serve and volleyer over seconds, right ? so I naturally try to do more at net by covering more court. but should I just poach and go crazy at net 80 % of the time even though I am getting passed to my side ? and just say WTF, who cares ? if I do nothing, we lose anyway. but then my partner then would say, what are you doing getting passed so many times into your alley. LOL
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
I am actually very good at net and serve and volley 89-90 % of the time. but I had a partner that day that didn't like going to the net and felt much more comfy at baseline. I told him you need to lob even though they are hitting some good overheads. and try to come to net before they do. He didn't listen about the lob but to his credit, he did try to come to net more by serve and volleying but after missing 2 easy volleys in a row, he completely stopped coming in. and rest is history.

My partner was by far the weakest link on the court, so of course I tried to do more and overplay the middle trying to take away the middle completely on my own. but that opened up the cross court angle on my side and being good players they were, they were able to hit those angles too.

So my point is when you have partner like this, you can't turn him into good serve and volleyer over seconds, right ? so I naturally try to do more at net by covering more court. but should I just poach and go crazy at net 80 % of the time even though I am getting passed to my side ? and just say WTF, who cares ? if I do nothing, we lose anyway. but then my partner then would say, what are you doing getting passed so many times into your alley. LOL
sol: new partner, not because he doesn't like playing net... but because he has no idea what you're trying to do to win in dubs. he's definitely of the mindset where he just want to practice his super awesome singles groundstrokes... sure he might lose anyway, but he's getting his groundstroke practice in...
 

jhick

Professional
Were these guys just getting everything back, or were they hitting lots of volley winners at the net? Try new tactics that may throw them off. If your partner has a decent return, tell him you'd like to poach off of his return...and have him switch so he can cover down the line. Try some lobs, change the pace on your shots. Most good S&V's are rhythm players, you need to give them something to throw them off. May not work, but if that is the case, then you're probably just outmatched and there's not much you can do at that point.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Were these guys just getting everything back, or were they hitting lots of volley winners at the net? Try new tactics that may throw them off. If your partner has a decent return, tell him you'd like to poach off of his return...and have him switch so he can cover down the line. Try some lobs, change the pace on your shots. Most good S&V's are rhythm players, you need to give them something to throw them off. May not work, but if that is the case, then you're probably just outmatched and there's not much you can do at that point.
You know what. this is something I didn't try but it is a Great idea. My partner did hit some decent returns but opponents were volleying them back with ease. Yes you are right, I think it would have been great idea for me to poach off the return and have him switch. If this ever happens again, I will put that Stretegy into play and see what happens.....................

Awsome idea, thank you.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Were these guys just getting everything back, or were they hitting lots of volley winners at the net? Try new tactics that may throw them off. If your partner has a decent return, tell him you'd like to poach off of his return...and have him switch so he can cover down the line. Try some lobs, change the pace on your shots. Most good S&V's are rhythm players, you need to give them something to throw them off. May not work, but if that is the case, then you're probably just outmatched and there's not much you can do at that point.
+1, but i'm gonna bet 2 pennies that the baseline guy also gets confused with poaching :p and if they are making stupid comments about "cover your line", it tells me he's also not the kind of guy you can give a crush course in doubles fundamentals :p
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
+1, but i'm gonna bet 2 pennies that the baseline guy also gets confused with poaching :p and if they are making stupid comments about "cover your line", it tells me he's also not the kind of guy you can give a crush course in doubles fundamentals :p
Again good point, +2. You guys really know what you are talking about.... This is a pleasant surprise, have you thought about coaching top Juniors ?. Thank you.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Again good point, +2. You guys really know what you are talking about.... This is a pleasant surprise, have you thought about coaching top Juniors ?. Thank you.
When coaching my high school doubles teams, one of the biggest difference makers is convincing the kids to avoid thinking like singles players where they're often trying to hit at an open half of the court - that's sort of "left-right" thinking. I try to get them to focus more on the elevation of their shots ("up-down" thinking) where keeping the ball down low will deny opponents much of any offense up around the net.

During so many doubles points, one team is typically hitting down and the other team is hitting up. The team hitting down is the team with the advantage. Even if you don't have a shoulder high ball that you can kill, you can deny the other team any sort of strong reply when you can keep your own shots down low. Eventually the other guys will have to hit up. Instead of exposing the open half of the court as we might do in singles, this sort of hitting is about exposing an opponent's feet and driving at them when you get a look.

I also very much agree with our pals above; be unpredictable, return at a net-rushers feet when you can, and lob some returns so that you can flip the script and take over the net at the start of the point instead of the servers. Lobs must be deep!! Make sure that you and your partner are in on the plan from one point to the next. Then you're more effective either attacking or defending together as a team.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
When coaching my high school doubles teams, one of the biggest difference makers is convincing the kids to avoid thinking like singles players where they're often trying to hit at an open half of the court - that's sort of "left-right" thinking. I try to get them to focus more on the elevation of their shots ("up-down" thinking) where keeping the ball down low will deny opponents much of any offense up around the net.

During so many doubles points, one team is typically hitting down and the other team is hitting up. The team hitting down is the team with the advantage. Even if you don't have a shoulder high ball that you can kill, you can deny the other team any sort of strong reply when you can keep your own shots down low. Eventually the other guys will have to hit up. Instead of exposing the open half of the court as we might do in singles, this sort of hitting is about exposing an opponent's feet and driving at them when you get a look.

I also very much agree with our pals above; be unpredictable, return at a net-rushers feet when you can, and lob some returns so that you can flip the script and take over the net at the start of the point instead of the servers. Lobs must be deep!! Make sure that you and your partner are in on the plan from one point to the next. Then you're more effective either attacking or defending together as a team.
So true, all good points. especially about communicating between each point. but this is something that amateur players almost never do. It is like as though they expect you to read their mind. I DID emphasize with this guy before the match even started to communicate and call balls, You, or Mine when in gray area zone. and also told him lets plan and talk as much as possible.............. but he never did any of this..............LOL
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
When coaching my high school doubles teams, one of the biggest difference makers is convincing the kids to avoid thinking like singles players where they're often trying to hit at an open half of the court - that's sort of "left-right" thinking. I try to get them to focus more on the elevation of their shots ("up-down" thinking) where keeping the ball down low will deny opponents much of any offense up around the net.

During so many doubles points, one team is typically hitting down and the other team is hitting up. The team hitting down is the team with the advantage. Even if you don't have a shoulder high ball that you can kill, you can deny the other team any sort of strong reply when you can keep your own shots down low. Eventually the other guys will have to hit up. Instead of exposing the open half of the court as we might do in singles, this sort of hitting is about exposing an opponent's feet and driving at them when you get a look.

I also very much agree with our pals above; be unpredictable, return at a net-rushers feet when you can, and lob some returns so that you can flip the script and take over the net at the start of the point instead of the servers. Lobs must be deep!! Make sure that you and your partner are in on the plan from one point to the next. Then you're more effective either attacking or defending together as a team.
Also, one other thing, I think these guys play together often. They actually had college type of hand signals for serve and poach communication and they did this on every point. We do this sometimes at 4.5 level but not to this consistency. They had their communication setup and were using it efficiently. This is something that we should do more often, all of us.
 

Kevo

Legend
When you have a weaker partner, I focus more on what they *can* do well and try to find a way to use it. You are always at a big disadvantage in doubles when you are playing a doubles team where both partners are solid and know how to play doubles.

I did one time pull out a win with a decent singles playing partner at a city finals USTA tournament. I basically encouraged him every time he tried to hit a strong deep return whether he made it or not. Any time his instinct was good and he missed I let him know to keep trying that. Even though his instincts were not doubles instincts he finally started connecting with his returns toward the end of the first set. Once we were able to get into one of their service games his mood lifted and things started to shift. After that he started serving better as well. All of a sudden we were in a tight match and I just kept letting him know our strategy was working and we just had to keep working it. After winning the second set it felt like everyone on the court knew we were going to win.

We were a little lucky that the other team didn't really have a good boot on the throat game. I think they could have won it in two if they had kept picking on my partner like a flock of vultures, but I guess they didn't quite recognize what was going on over on our side of the net.

That's basically a long way of saying you aren't going to win with a weaker partner unless you can make use of their strengths some how. Changing a baseliner to a volleyer in the middle of a match against a good doubles team is a non-starter IMO.
 

jhick

Professional
So true, all good points. especially about communicating between each point. but this is something that amateur players almost never do. It is like as though they expect you to read their mind. I DID emphasize with this guy before the match even started to communicate and call balls, You, or Mine when in gray area zone. and also told him lets plan and talk as much as possible.............. but he never did any of this..............LOL
Most of the time I'm just giving serve direction and poach hand signals on the serve, but when things aren't working, then I try to talk more with my partner between points (kind of like you see in the pros). Open communication is usually a good thing. Plus it slows the game down and can disrupt the opposing team's rhythm.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Again good point, +2. You guys really know what you are talking about.... This is a pleasant surprise, have you thought about coaching top Juniors ?. Thank you.
top 12y olds kick my arse, so I doubt they’ll need coaching from me. they typically get coached by exD1 or better.

your typical 3.5-4.0 hs player, I could definitely help :)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
So true, all good points. especially about communicating between each point. but this is something that amateur players almost never do. It is like as though they expect you to read their mind. I DID emphasize with this guy before the match even started to communicate and call balls, You, or Mine when in gray area zone. and also told him lets plan and talk as much as possible.............. but he never did any of this..............LOL
lone ranger singles players never communicate, because they are the hero in their own story. in their mind, once their super-awesome-fh is warmed up, it will blast a hole through these pansy volleyers.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

coupergear

Professional
Hey diddle diddle hit it up the middle. It's the age-old deal hit in the middle and hit it low at their feet. if you can get topspin to drop hard that's good or low clearance slice that's good too or even just a slightly softer ball that falls over the net that could be effective. if they're really crowding to cut off the low stuff then they're exposed to the lob, use it.
 

coupergear

Professional
When coaching my high school doubles teams, one of the biggest difference makers is convincing the kids to avoid thinking like singles players where they're often trying to hit at an open half of the court - that's sort of "left-right" thinking. I try to get them to focus more on the elevation of their shots ("up-down" thinking) where keeping the ball down low will deny opponents much of any offense up around the net.

During so many doubles points, one team is typically hitting down and the other team is hitting up. The team hitting down is the team with the advantage. Even if you don't have a shoulder high ball that you can kill, you can deny the other team any sort of strong reply when you can keep your own shots down low. Eventually the other guys will have to hit up. Instead of exposing the open half of the court as we might do in singles, this sort of hitting is about exposing an opponent's feet and driving at them when you get a look.

I also very much agree with our pals above; be unpredictable, return at a net-rushers feet when you can, and lob some returns so that you can flip the script and take over the net at the start of the point instead of the servers. Lobs must be deep!! Make sure that you and your partner are in on the plan from one point to the next. Then you're more effective either attacking or defending together as a team.
Great tips really love the "hitting down" vs "hitting up" tip in terms of understanding who has the advantage. In same vein also refrain from thinking about put away on every shot so many times even teams with the" hitting down" advantage try to end the point too quickly by really blasting the ball and then they slap it into the net or long with a bad swinging volley. Just a crisp volley, not a scorcher, right at their feet keeps them hitting up and you hitting down, until you get one that is more easy to angle away or split them.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Well if you are talking about 4.5 and above and they truly are good S&V players, there is not much you can do. This is why they say the way you win in doubles is to get to the net as quickly as possible. If they are 4.5+ lobbing is going to be tough because of the quality of the overheads. All you can do is hit low dippers, make them volley up, and go down the middle until they make a mistake. You just have to outplay them. Everything else is fruitless.

Now, if you are talking regular adult rec tennis, mob all day long and you’ll be on easy street.
 

NLBwell

Legend
Serve and volley tennis in the old days was about 2 things:

1. can the returner get the return down to the server's feet?
of course this depends on the quality of the serve and the skill of the returner
if the return is not low, the percentage is very highly in the server's favor (even if the return is hit hard)

2. can the SV'er get the first volley deep/in a position where the returner is under pressure?
if the volley is short or floats the returner has a good chance at the pass (or lob) and a good chance of winning the point
if the first volley puts the returner in an awkward position the chances of the server winning the point are very high

To get really good at the first volley requires large amounts of practice and match time to be able to hit volleys from uncomfortable positions while moving through the court.
Similarly, to be able to consistently place returns low and accurately from any type and placement of serve takes a lot of repetitions.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Hey diddle diddle hit it up the middle. It's the age-old deal hit in the middle and hit it low at their feet. if you can get topspin to drop hard that's good or low clearance slice that's good too or even just a slightly softer ball that falls over the net that could be effective. if they're really crowding to cut off the low stuff then they're exposed to the lob, use it.
Yea right, only if it was so easy. These guys really crowd the middle, so there was no room in the middle to pass them and when you go for the alley or angle, it was very tough shot becauase their 1st volley was very penetrating with pace and depth.
 

coupergear

Professional
Yea right, only if it was so easy. These guys really crowd the middle, so there was no room in the middle to pass them and when you go for the alley or angle, it was very tough shot becauase their 1st volley was very penetrating with pace and depth.
Agree. But you're not really trying to pass them in the middle you're just trying to get them to have to hit a low ball which pops up a soft sitter that you can do more with either roll a topspin lob or try for a harder passing shot.
 

coupergear

Professional
Serve and volley tennis in the old days was about 2 things:

1. can the returner get the return down to the server's feet?
of course this depends on the quality of the serve and the skill of the returner
if the return is not low, the percentage is very highly in the server's favor (even if the return is hit hard)

2. can the SV'er get the first volley deep/in a position where the returner is under pressure?
if the volley is short or floats the returner has a good chance at the pass (or lob) and a good chance of winning the point
if the first volley puts the returner in an awkward position the chances of the server winning the point are very high

To get really good at the first volley requires large amounts of practice and match time to be able to hit volleys from uncomfortable positions while moving through the court.
Similarly, to be able to consistently place returns low and accurately from any tyand placement of serve takes a lot of repetitions.
I think those are great points. Serve and volley died at the pro level because the top spin balls they hit in the modern era dip much harder. So it's a double whammy. Either they pass you outright or if not, the ball is still dipping hard at your shoestrings making it a difficult play even if you're there.
Back in the smaller racket days they had to hit a much flatter ball it was going to stay high coming across... easier to hit downhill on it and put pressure on them with that first volley.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
As a serve and volleyer what I tell people who I play (after I play them) is to get the return at me feet or above my shoulders. Also, pay attention to where they hit their volleys. Must serve and volleyers have patterns they like because it happens so fast they usually are following set pattern. Try and anticipate the patterns.

The other thing to think about is that good serve and volley players are trying to dictate where the return will be based on the serve they hit. So, try and return against the grain. If they hit a slice serve out wide from the deuce court they are expecting the return short to the backhand (if they are right handed). So, try and get it cross court. That sort of thing.
 
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