Aussie Doubles Anyone?

fe6250

Semi-Pro
I've been curious if anyone on here has much experience with playing doubles in the Aussie or I formations. I play 3.5 and 4.0 men's tennis and have yet to run into it in a match. My questions would be:

1.) What are the advantages / disadvantages of using these formations?
2.) Is there a level where these makes more or less sense?
3.) If you are a fan of one or both of these formations - are there any tips on strategy or drills that can make you more effective?

I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I hadn't seen this discussed yet.
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I'm a 3.5, and I'm starting to use it more and more.

We tend to use it in mixed if the male opponent is playing the ad court. This will give the server a chance to play his forehand down the line to the male opponent's backhand. It also puts the FH volley of the net player in the middle, for whose who don't like to hit their BH volley.

I have also used it when any opponent has a good cross-court return that swings the server off the court. Some returners have trouble going down the line over the high part of the net and dealing with the shorter court to hit to.

It is worth learning, but you should practice it. It is a different look when you are the server, and as the net player it feels very weird.
 

JavierLW

Hall of Fame
I've been curious if anyone on here has much experience with playing doubles in the Aussie or I formations. I play 3.5 and 4.0 men's tennis and have yet to run into it in a match. My questions would be:

1.) What are the advantages / disadvantages of using these formations?
2.) Is there a level where these makes more or less sense?
3.) If you are a fan of one or both of these formations - are there any tips on strategy or drills that can make you more effective?

I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I hadn't seen this discussed yet.
Ive used it when we are playing a strong player / weak player combination and we are serving against the weaker player. Especially after they've finally gotten down the cross court return.

I seems to isolate them somehow and keep the stronger player out of the point. If I can serve down the T, and move in for instance, and I feel that I can win against that player in a couple shots it's a good move.

For some reason a lot of players wont cross over and take balls in this situation (where they would pick more balls off cross court), so it keeps the strong player out of the point completely sometimes.

I know a lot of better doubles teams at higher levels that seem to just use the I formation instead.
 
Interesting thread. I like using the Australian formation when serving to the ad court, because it forces the returner to hit down the line to my forehand, where I will hit it right back to his backhand, over and over, which will usually win me the point. Of course this assumes 2 right-handers, but it should also work in the deuce court against a lefty.

I also like using the I, just to keep them guessing. If they have to think about which way the net man is moving, then they will probably put a weaker return in play.
 

iLose

New User
I like this formation just to fool around with, after I while I find it makes our doubles play worse (thats just for me though it could be a completely different story for you guys) We tend to the "straight" formation which is the same thing except the the net person stands in line with the person serving or a little more toward the servers side, thus he can just stand or get in his normal net play position instead of bending way down. Like someone else said, it is great to take away someones good cross court return, and the looks of it throws people off a bit.
 

AndrewD

Legend
fe6250,

It makes a big difference depending on how you play doubles - 2 up at net or 1 up and 1 back (I get the very distinct impression, from comments made on the message board, that in the States you guys play mainly the latter combination).
 

Doc Hollidae

Hall of Fame
There's a website out there. Operation Doubles I think? They have a nice basic explanation and strategy behind both formations. Also how to counter them as well I believe.

They favor aggressive net play imo, but also functions as a "change-up" to give your opponents a different look. If someone has a killer cross court return. Playing in either formation makes them think twice. They might be hitting it straight into the net man with their partner looking like a deer in front of headlights. That isn't always the case, but it can break their groove.

Disadvantages, the DTL alley will be wide open if struck cleanly. However, even a floating deep slice or lob are effective in those situations. The middle is also vulnerable at times. In the I formation you're looking to move pretty quick to your side. So the middles can be exposed during that initial movement after the serve.

There's many more pro's and con's, but there's a few. I don't think it's better or worse than the "straight up" formation. I think people at lower levels tend to use it when they are up and/or messing around, unless they are actually being taught it. Also imo, having a good server is necessary as well. The server need to be able to place it where the team has agreed upon. If you have a powder puff serve it can go both ways. They can crush it down the line every time or they could lose focus and try and go for more than necessary
 

spot

Hall of Fame
I think it should be the default formation to use when you are partnered with a weak server. The main advantage of the normal formation is that the net player is there to put away any weak returns, but when the server is weak then the returner can do a high percentage crosscourt return every time. In Australian you take away the crosscourt return and make them go back up the line in a return they don't make as often, over the higher part of the net, having less court to work with, and no angle to work with.

I particularly love it on Ad side where I can make the other team go back to my partner's forehand. Many returners in doubles are content to slice a ball low to someone's backhand and take the net, australian takes away that return. Anytime a returner gets locked in on a crosscourt return that is hurting us I go to Australian. THere are many Deuce court players that live off of this return with a hard flat ball, flat hitters have even more trouble hitting over the higher part of the net to the shorter part of the court.
 

fe6250

Semi-Pro
fe6250,

It makes a big difference depending on how you play doubles - 2 up at net or 1 up and 1 back (I get the very distinct impression, from comments made on the message board, that in the States you guys play mainly the latter combination).
I play mostly 2-up if that helps you. I see mostly 2-up at 4.0 and a mix at 3.5.
 

fe6250

Semi-Pro
Great input all. I noticed some info on the Operation Doubles website that Doc pointed out on effective S&V with the Aussie formation - especially on the AD side. Anyone try and have success with that?
 

Nellie

Hall of Fame
Per previous post, I like to play I formation (with the net man in the middle) to force the other team to guess which what to return the ball. With a good serve, the return is tough enough, but with a moving netman, the return is even tougher.

Another thing I never understand is that if you are using Australian to force a forehand/ backhand ralley, why wouldn't the returning team merely (1) go both up); or (2) plan a switch immediately after the return of serve? Why stand still and engage as dictated by the server?
 

fe6250

Semi-Pro
Another thing I never understand is that if you are using Australian to force a forehand/ backhand ralley, why wouldn't the returning team merely (1) go both up); or (2) plan a switch immediately after the return of serve? Why stand still and engage as dictated by the server?
It seems that you could potentially gain a poach here too if you were to return and then switch as the returner of the Aussie look. If the AD player returns to the Server forehand, the likely shot is back to the backhand - right? If the net player times this right - they could have an easy poach.
 

rasajadad

Hall of Fame
I play I formation almost exclusively at 4.0-4.5 levels. The caveat is that the server must be able to serve with some "juice" to locations. (You can't just spin it in to the middle of the box.) One big benefit that hasn't been written about yet is that the receiver has to look at you through your partner. The screening effect, I believe causes additional problems for the returner.
 

Crusher10s

Rookie
The author of Operation Doubles (Kathy Krajco) used to post on this forum and I so wish she'd come back so I could pick her brain.
 

Doc Hollidae

Hall of Fame
Great input all. I noticed some info on the Operation Doubles website that Doc pointed out on effective S&V with the Aussie formation - especially on the AD side. Anyone try and have success with that?
This is usually an effective play against right handers retrurning on the ad side. Usually their backhand is their weaker shot and are most comfortable with going cross court. With the net man already standing cross court they feel forced to go DTL with their weaker wing.

Personally I like to throw heavy kickers to the backhand side when playing on the ad side in this formation. My goal is to force the returner to either come up with a solid DTL backhand return and to make him feel as much pressure as possible. Even at the 4.5 level, you won't find too many people with a reliable and fearsome DTL backhand return.
 

LuckyR

Legend
In my experience the Aussie formation can be used fairly well by partners who do not play together all the time, that is, once learned the two partners can do their halves of the play independantly and it doesn't take much coordination.

I have not found the I to be in the same category. That is best left to partners who play together frequently and have the opportunity to coordinate their moves together.
 

kevhen

Hall of Fame
I used Australian last week and it worked well with a good net partner and serving down the T. My partner crowded the net near the center and my heavy slice serve made it hard for the returning to go down the lines. We won like 10 points in a row this way from the deuce side against a 4.0 decent returner. My partner and I are weak 4.5s.

Prior to these 10 points I had lost 2 service games in a row so it definitely paid off to switch and disrupt his crosscourt return.
 

fe6250

Semi-Pro
I used Australian last week and it worked well with a good net partner and serving down the T. My partner crowded the net near the center and my heavy slice serve made it hard for the returning to go down the lines. We won like 10 points in a row this way from the deuce side against a 4.0 decent returner. My partner and I are weak 4.5s.

Prior to these 10 points I had lost 2 service games in a row so it definitely paid off to switch and disrupt his crosscourt return.
Sounds like you were pretty close to an I formation if I'm reading you right and not a true Aussie - or am I missing something?
 

AndrewD

Legend
I play mostly 2-up if that helps you. I see mostly 2-up at 4.0 and a mix at 3.5.
The down side (for those playing 2 up):

Truthfully, at the 3.5-4.0 level, player's don't move particularly well (even up to 4.5). As a result, there's a lot more that can go wrong when they have to use something like the 'I' or 'Australian' formation which can require the server to move sharply to cover a much larger area of court and also requires the net player to be relatively nimble - something most 3.5-4.0 players aren't. The standard formation requires less court coverage and less dexterity. At that particular level players have enough weaknesses to not require any specialised tactics. A strong serve to the backhand or into the body will usually achieve the desired result -floated or poor return for the serving team to pick off- and should always be the first choice of tactics.

The up side:

Of course, at the 3.5-4.0 level, there's a lot of tactics that will work because, while the server mightn't be particularly threatening, neither is the receiver. So you can play the I/Australian formation and get away with it due to a 3.5-4.0's lack of consistency and variety.

Another bonus the I or Australian formation has for players under 4.5, or inexperienced doubles players of all standards, is they force them to cover the centre of the court. Too often you'll see the server's partner position themselves to cover a down-the-line return when they should be positioned to cover the, much higher percentage, shot hit down the middle. The I and Australian forces them to be more pro-active with their movement and emphasises the partnership which is supposed to exist between the server and his net player (if the server can't put the ball where he's supposed to, the tactic won't work. if the net player doesn't move and play aggressively, the tactic won't work).
 
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Doc Hollidae

Hall of Fame
Another bonus the I or Australian formation has for players under 4.5, or inexperienced doubles players of all standards, is they force them to cover the centre of the court. Too often you'll see the server's partner position themselves to cover a down-the-line return when they should be positioned to cover the, much higher percentage, shot hit down the middle. The I and Australian forces them to be more pro-active with their movement and emphasises the partnership which is supposed to exist between the server and his net player (if the server can't put the ball where he's supposed to, the tactic won't work. if the net player doesn't move and play aggressively, the tactic won't work).
Very good point. My friend is one of those DTL huggers and it really irks me. The majority of my service games are spent with him touching the ball maybe once or twice a game. On top of that, I have to cover the middle as well which in turn exposes the alley for an easy winner. Then he wonders why his service games seem a lot easier than mine. "Uhm dude, it's because I poach. They can't just return it cross court everytime without fearing the netman crossing and punishing them for it."

What I tell my friend everytime I serve is that I don't care if he gets passed down the line and if he does, we'll address it then, but him being so far to the side leaves me with too much ground to cover and allows the returner to play the safe return cross court, because they don't have to worry about a poach.

My philosophy has always been that a DTL shot is more difficult and less consistent for most players. Especially off the backhand side. With that in mind. People won't go for that shot as much and if they do and they're more likely to miss DTL than a cross court. Unless I know a player likes to go down the line a lot, I always give up my alley in favor of aggressively poaching. Once I get beat DTL once or twice, I'll make adjustments, but my opponent has to be able to show me it wasn't just a fluke.
 
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