Being on the same page

steve s

Professional
I am a singles player,but got some good doubles in tonight. Was playing with a strong server, and told him I was going to cover the center, when he served up the tee, on the duce court, to a right 1HB. I cut off a few of the returns , not many. I was only taking a step as the returner started his swing, not poaching.

The returner passed me up the line. He did not push it, he hit it!!

Server got upset, told me to cover the line.

I have to say my partner is a better doubles player than I, but I told him,I have to play my game.

We won 7-5, 7-5

How do you we both get on the same page on court, during the match!

Was told after the match that we got a good win.
 

styksnstryngs

Professional
Well you were in the wrong if you weren't poaching but you were already moving to the center before you knew that's where the return was going. Doubles iq is very different. Poaching completely would be better than a wishy-washy half-poach. A down the line return is fairly common, and one that is your responsibility imo.
 

Heck

Rookie
Getting on the same page means developing a relationship. You have to play your game but also you have to be able to make adjustments if needed. If you kept getting burnt up the line then you have
to close the door to make them hit a different shot. I played with good players that had one trick and that gets old fast when you lose. I judge a good doubles partner by not only wins but
how good I felt our effort was after a match. If I feel a hint of negative body language or even a eye roll after missing a shot from my partner I tend to not want to play with them again win or lose.
Doubles is not singles and doubles is great with the right partner.
 

zalive

Hall of Fame
Its ur job to cover the line, as far as i know.
But not the only job of the netman ;)
Poaching is not just points. It's also a mental game against your opponents. Which earns some 'invisible' points during the match play.
However, you need to earn your sufficient % of points poaching for this to work :D
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
OP, you would be my ideal partner, given my cache of partners. Most of my partners just stay put and guard the line which is 90% of time useless for us. Why?

1. I hit hard enough that it becomes a low percentage for the other guy to change direction to have a dtl.

2. Net game is a win/lose percent game. If you don't allow dtl passing you're not doing enough across moving/poaching where most of the rallying occur. I would take 2 successful center poachings over 1 passing lose.

3. It's too hard for my doubles partners to understand that their xcourt running/attempts don't have to be successful putaway. We can still earn points by distracting the other team.

4. If your net game is about guarding something, you're not really PLAYING anything. You're like a baseline returner, a wall. To play, you need to be proactive, look to get into actions.

Lastly your partner gets upset with you mostly because he doesn't respect you. You were right in telling him to let you play your game. But being upset with another person is mostly about respect for that person.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
Wow, surprised by some of the comments above.

When your partner is serving, you should shift L or R with the direction of your partners serve. Just because you got passed DTL doesn't mean you were in the wrong position. If you partner serves up the T from the deuce court, you should shift about 2-3 feet to the middle and you should do this as soon as the serve hits the service box. If the returner hits a very good pass DTL and gets it by you, then I would just shake it off. But, if they are consistently passing you into the alley or if the shot is landing several feet inside the alley sideline and you still aren't covering it, then be more conservative and don't shift at all or as much toward the middle.

In net play for singles and doubles, you want to cover the percentage returns. This means shifting to follow the direction of the serve or approach shot. You should shift to the middle if the serve or approach is up the middle. You do not want to freak out because opponents hit 1 or 2 passes up your alley. As a server, I wouldn't be concerned if the returner hits a great return off a serve down the T behind my partner. I would not change tactics until the returner proves they can do that consistently. Remember if the serve is wide, you should shift to that direction too.
 

steve s

Professional
Well you were in the wrong if you weren't poaching but you were already moving to the center before you knew that's where the return was going. Doubles iq is very different. Poaching completely would be better than a wishy-washy half-poach. A down the line return is fairly common, and one that is your responsibility imo.
Could you explain when you know, where a return is going. And how you can then move to cut the ball off. A OHB back up the line on a good serve is not a easy shot, to me anyway.

I was pinching off the center, not sure what wishy-iwashy means.

I think my movement cause some pressure on the other side. Like change of shot, taking eye off the ball, etc.
 
Its ur job to cover the line, as far as i know.
If my only job as net man was to cover the line, I'd be alley camping. However, I have a much more important role: disrupting the returner. I can't do that standing in the alley.

As long as we win more points by me crowding the middle than I lose getting burned DTL, I'm happy. If my partner is not happy because I'm not doing my line-covering job, then we'll never be on the same page.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
I think your partner confused 20/20 hindsight with insight. They're two different things.

Now, if you'd reached a cross-court shot and put it away, he would have said "Nice shot". Since your team lost the point, he wanted to find a way to blame you. Good doubles teams don't play the blame game.

When a doubles partner tells me how to play, I say, "Ohhh, thanks for the tip." But I go back to what I'm doing. I don't like to argue.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
If my only job as net man was to cover the line, I'd be alley camping. However, I have a much more important role: disrupting the returner. I can't do that standing in the alley.

As long as we win more points by me crowding the middle than I lose getting burned DTL, I'm happy. If my partner is not happy because I'm not doing my line-covering job, then we'll never be on the same page.
Never say its the only job. But thats the more important job since the partner is covering the middle already.
 

zalive

Hall of Fame
Never say its the only job. But thats the more important job since the partner is covering the middle already.
Disrupting the returner is far more important job.

You can't stand still and cover both DTL and the middle. You can cover DTL well, but if you do that you don't cover the middle well. If you stand in the middle of the service box then you leave a smaller DTL gap open - this is considered as the best positioning since DTL close to the line is considered a lower % shot. But you have to shift your position according to where serve lands - serving wide leaves a big DTL gap open so you need to cover the gap, while serving down the T gives you space to shift your position towards the centre of the court.

But all that is not poaching. It's mere positioning to take advantage of the weaker return, or to be able to poach against a weaker return. Real poaching means cutting the ball going to the server's side of the court even when it's not a weak return. And it involves a risk indeed. If returner reads in advance you're doing it, it's your fault. However, just as you guess you could succesfully poach his return, returner as well can take a guess you're gonna poach and try his luck by going DTL. In case he guessed right his risk paid off, while your didn't. It's a natural part of the game and it's nobody's fault.

Because it is the risk, pro players (I guess higher level league players probably do the same) communicate whether the netman will try to poach, meaning they'll both switch sides after the serve, to minimize the possible damage made by DTL return. However in a rec tennis...
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
Disrupting the returner is far more important job.

You can't stand still and cover both DTL and the middle. You can cover DTL well, but if you do that you don't cover the middle well. If you stand in the middle of the service box then you leave a smaller DTL gap open - this is considered as the best positioning since DTL close to the line is considered a lower % shot. But you have to shift your position according to where serve lands - serving wide leaves a big DTL gap open so you need to cover the gap, while serving down the T gives you space to shift your position towards the centre of the court.

But all that is not poaching. It's mere positioning to take advantage of the weaker return, or to be able to poach against a weaker return. Real poaching means cutting the ball going to the server's side of the court even when it's not a weak return. And it involves a risk indeed. If returner reads in advance you're doing it, it's your fault. However, just as you guess you could succesfully poach his return, returner as well can take a guess you're gonna poach and try his luck by going DTL. In case he guessed right his risk paid off, while your didn't. It's a natural part of the game and it's nobody's fault.

Because it is the risk, pro players (I guess higher level league players probably do the same) communicate whether the netman will try to poach, meaning they'll both switch sides after the serve, to minimize the possible damage made by DTL return. However in a rec tennis...
so this is rec tennis right???
 

spaceman_spiff

Hall of Fame
Never say its the only job. But thats the more important job since the partner is covering the middle already.
The thing is, if your opponent very rarely goes DTL but often hits returns that you could reach and put away if you had a slightly more aggressive positioning, then covering the line means that your team has fewer chances to put the ball away on the first volley.

In many cases, what would be a relatively easy put-away for the net man (if he moves to the middle) will only be a neutral approach volley for the server if the net man doesn't go for it. Sometimes, it can even be a fairly difficult volley for the server. And sometimes, if you're covering the line too much, a solid return just off center to the net man's side could go for a winner.

It's a constant judgement call based on how well your partner is serving and how well and where your opponents are returning as to how aggressive you should be in your positioning at the net. There's no one answer.
 

Doc Hollidae

Hall of Fame
I hate doubles, and this is just one reason.
@nytennisaddict says you should get burned DTL 3 times before you give up on poaching.
So, tell your partner that's what NYTA says. LOL.
I tell my partners the same thing. Unless I know beforehand that they like to hit down the line and can do it well.

Going DTL is a lower percentage shot and the majority of balls are hit to the middle or cross court. Are you going to get burned down the line at times? Yes, but I'd rather play the percentages.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
It's a constant judgement call based on how well your partner is serving and how well and where your opponents are returning as to how aggressive you should be in your positioning at the net. There's no one answer.
Yep.

I suspect this is the part that makes most rec players turn away from developing net skills. It's just a lot of (mental) work for them (or most people are just lazy).

I sucked at the net but I recognized the problem very early on. Given my work ethic and analytical skill, it was just a matter of time before I left my group behind in net playing dept. I'm a natural baseline grinder but now it feels weird to not have a net person in doubles. Whenever I see an opponent team with two back, I just laugh and almost guarantee that they have no chance against my team. Seriously.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Agree with a lot of advice already tossed in above. Even though this is a doubles setting, the higher percentage shots are still through the middle over the lower portion of the net.

If you get burned down the line once when you're the server's partner, no biggie. I think that becomes more of an issue after it happens two or three times. Once you know that your opponent is looking for that shot, it's time to adjust your positioning a little bit. As a team, you want to take away the other guy's higher percentage shots, at least at the outset. Once you know where he likes to go, then you can do more to deny that favorite target.

Impossible to know exactly what went right or wrong in that action you described up top without seeing it, but it sounds like you were doing more or less what I'd recommend. When I coach my high school teams, I'm always encouraging the server's partner to move a little left or right with the placement of the serve. You can also consider "baiting" a returner by setting up a little more to the left or right and then be ready to jump on a return into that opening.

And keep in mind that when your partner gets burned with a nasty cross-court return from the deuce court, tell him to cover that side...
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
I am a singles player,but got some good doubles in tonight. Was playing with a strong server, and told him I was going to cover the center, when he served up the tee, on the duce court, to a right 1HB. I cut off a few of the returns , not many. I was only taking a step as the returner started his swing, not poaching.

The returner passed me up the line. He did not push it, he hit it!!

Server got upset, told me to cover the line.

I have to say my partner is a better doubles player than I, but I told him,I have to play my game.

We won 7-5, 7-5

How do you we both get on the same page on court, during the match!

Was told after the match that we got a good win.
just to clarify...
on T serves, you cut off a few returns, and got passed once, and your server told you to cover the line?
sounds like your partner sucks at dubs strategy.

if it were me, i'd make you poach the very next point.

that said, how are you poaching?
was this a planned poach or a reaction poach?
on either, where do you poach, to? (ie. describe when you start, then move ot)
was the serve down the T?
ad or deuce side?
how was has the returner been returning on that wing?
presuming reactionary, what was the quality of that particular T serve?
when they passed you, where did you ball land? (in the doubles alley?)
did you try varying the timing of your poach?
 

snvplayer

Hall of Fame
I am a singles player,but got some good doubles in tonight. Was playing with a strong server, and told him I was going to cover the center, when he served up the tee, on the duce court, to a right 1HB. I cut off a few of the returns , not many. I was only taking a step as the returner started his swing, not poaching.

The returner passed me up the line. He did not push it, he hit it!!

Server got upset, told me to cover the line.

I have to say my partner is a better doubles player than I, but I told him,I have to play my game.

We won 7-5, 7-5

How do you we both get on the same page on court, during the match!

Was told after the match that we got a good win.
You get on the same page via discussing what's happening on the court.
It's higher percentage play to look for a return coming back to middle against a down the middle serve. But, the returner began to read your play from you taking the step.
So, you gotta adjust now, maybe take the step a bit late, or don't leave the line open as much.

This is a tactical decision not whether this is your game or not.
 
Never say its the only job. But thats the more important job since the partner is covering the middle already.
My partner can't cover both middle and wide while I stand in the alley. I have to take up as much middle as I can without giving too much line away. Also, I as the net man have a better chance of putting the return away than the server who, even if he is coming to the net, has to get through NML whereas I'm already at the net.

I'd go the opposite way and say covering the line is my least important job: how often do I get burned DTL vs how many missed opportunities do I have by failing to pinch the middle? Almost always more of the latter than the former.
 
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