Doubles tactics: what's right for the middle-aged weekend player?

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
 

GeoffHYL

Professional
No. Your overhead is not going to be that consistent, so don't try to hit an outright winner, go for good pace and placement. I find the best results overall for singles and doubles is to work on consistency and shot tolerance. If I can get one more shot back, that gives my opponent, who's also not playing every day, a chance to hit the ball out or into the net.

I don't always play this way, I mix it up, sometimes ripping a forehand or backhand winner, but I pick my spots to do this. I do it to pick up easy points and keep my opponents off balance.
 

MyFearHand

Rookie
Good point made above about not trying to hit an outright winner. I'd also like to add, how often do you practice your overheads? Why don't you ask your practice partner to hit you 20 every time you go out to hit, that doesn't take that long and your overhead will improve quickly. Then you can feel a lot more comfortable going to the net a bunch and dealing with lobs.

*Take this with a grain of salt as I'm an arrogant youth not a middle-aged weekend player.
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
Recall a pro had our team practice putting away overheads while the other team was at the baseline returning them. Discovered placement was more important than pace. And it may take more than one OH to win a point.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
I like your question and would share this.
If you like to hit overheads, that really helps. I really like to, so I prefer to entice the opponents to lob. I also don't feel like I must hit a winner on the 1st overhead. If you stagger the formation at net, then one if you is further back to cover the overheads more easily and is sort of looking for the chance to do so. Another key is to immediately open the hips and shoulders the instant you get a clue a lob is coming. This puts you in a position to chase. Another thing I like about them lobbing is that many of the lobs will be poor. Some will be out and some will be low or short. Only the best lobs are a tough challenge and even those are not so bad if you open the hips up very early.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
Good point made above about not trying to hit an outright winner. I'd also like to add, how often do you practice your overheads? Why don't you ask your practice partner to hit you 20 every time you go out to hit, that doesn't take that long and your overhead will improve quickly. Then you can feel a lot more comfortable going to the net a bunch and dealing with lobs.

*Take this with a grain of salt as I'm an arrogant youth not a middle-aged weekend player.
I do this all the time. I'll take 20 where I let them bounce, then another 20 where I try to hit them before the bounce. I don't have trouble with the stroke so much as getting to the ball. In a match it's harder because the lob is unexpected, unlike when I ask for them. Running back for it and swinging takes a lot out of me, and I have nothing left with which to finish the point.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
I like your question and would share this.
If you like to hit overheads, that really helps. I really like to, so I prefer to entice the opponents to lob. I also don't feel like I must hit a winner on the 1st overhead. If you stagger the formation at net, then one if you is further back to cover the overheads more easily and is sort of looking for the chance to do so. Another key is to immediately open the hips and shoulders the instant you get a clue a lob is coming. This puts you in a position to chase. Another thing I like about them lobbing is that many of the lobs will be poor. Some will be out and some will be low or short. Only the best lobs are a tough challenge and even those are not so bad if you open the hips up very early.
Good point about opening up the hips. I can do that in practice, but in a match I tend to backpedal. That backpedaling is a hard habit to break.
 

MyFearHand

Rookie
I do this all the time. I'll take 20 where I let them bounce, then another 20 where I try to hit them before the bounce. I don't have trouble with the stroke so much as getting to the ball. In a match it's harder because the lob is unexpected, unlike when I ask for them. Running back for it and swinging takes a lot out of me, and I have nothing left with which to finish the point.
Ahh well if you practice them a lot then I don't really have any particularly good advice. You could of course try to simulate the backwards movement for those practice feed but that's more difficult to do. Do you prefer to hit harder volleys or harder overheads? If volleys, then you could try not closing quite as tight to the net. If overheads then closer a bit tighter.
 

chic

Professional
2 up is probably one of the best options for the weekend player if both partners are on board.

It does require enough control on the serve that you're not getting attacked on the way up every time.

Another thing it sounds like you may need to practice is reacting to the lob, or maybe split stepping on the approach. Either keeping an eye on the opponent so a lob doesn't catch you flat footed, or split stepping so that you're not moving forward still when the ball goes up or at you.

These are both skills, separate from the ability to hit an overhead itself, bit necessary to hit it well.
 
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
If you're vulnerable to lobs, it means one or more of several things:
- You're too close to the net [following your serve to the net does not mean "get close enough to touch it with your racquet"]
- You're leaning forward too much
- You're not expecting the lob [you wrote above that lobs are "unexpected"...well, start expecting them!]
- Your volleys aren't challenging enough

The reason lobs are so effective is because A) they're a relatively easy, low-risk shot; and B) the OH is not a simple shot: you need good footwork, good partner communication, and wisdom of how aggressively to hit it.

There's a reason why the lob is so heavily used at the lower levels and rarely used at the upper levels: because upper level players punish all but the best lobs.

Instead of framing it as "Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?", I'd re-frame it as "How do I and my partner improve court positioning, anticipation, communication, and movement to improve OHs?" Instead of a binary answer of "realistic/non realistic", you have a continuum of possibilities.

And don't feel as if you're obligated to put away the first OH [which leads to more errors than winners]; instead, assess your chances and if they aren't that great, go for a "reasonable" OH, one that allows you to maintain net position but allows the opponents the chance to err or hit a weaker lob. The main problem I see, after poor technique, is simply trying to do too much when the opportunity just isn't there [like volleys].

Here's a good lesson:

 

BlueB

Legend
No. One up, one back. Follow only an excellent serve, or a great groundy, to the net for 2 up.
Even when I play with the best of my partners (both of us close, but not quite 4.5) we play this way, otherwise we have to run for the lobs alk day long. Even a 3.5 can hit a deep lob.

Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I’ll add one thing to S&V’s excellent list, about expecting the lob: people lob when you set up the situation for lobbing.

If I hit my approach shot or approach volley short, most people will not lob. They will instead choose a drive or slice, with angle or up the middle perhaps. Because they have less court to work with, may have more angle open to them, and are running forward, the lob is low percentage.

if I hit my shot deep, many players won’t want to hit a drive. They may not trust their passing groundstrokes against two up, and they have less angle to work with. A deep, penetrating ball invites a lob.

so learn to expect lobs based on the type of ball you hit, and don’t close too aggressively if you just hit a fierce, deep ball because the lob is coming, and you have time to handle an attempted pass if your opponent is behind the baseline.
 

chic

Professional
I will tag on to @BlueB s post that while I don't agree that 1u1b is better for double, it may be better if thats what you and your partner are comfortable with.

2 at net ime, is harder for people who don't have some kind of coaching in doubles, be it highschool / college, training as a Jr, or clinics as an adult.

So query your partner about their comfort level with you following the serve in. If they aren't comfortable and you aren't comfortable, and if y'all are more invested in winning the day than long term improvement, maybe 1u1b is a suitable answer.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
Whilst I'm not sure your first lesson is the time to concentrate on serve and volleying 100% of the time, let's ask the relevant questions.

If you're getting lobbed on return of serve, ask if your serve is the problem. Where are you placing it? Are you going at the body enough? Is your partner too close to the net?

If you're getting lobbed after establishing yourself at the net, what are you doing with that first volley? Does it serve a purpose or are you simply getting it into play? Are you and your partner mobile at the net or just standing there expecting volleys to be fed to you?

Controlling the net is a constant dance. Where you hit each ball determines who crowds the net and who lags back a bit to cover a potential lob. It's harder than the lazy "one up, one back" stuff. If you're vulnerable to a lob, it's either because you can't smash, or you're giving them an easy shot.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
No. One up, one back. Follow only an excellent serve, or a great groundy, to the net for 2 up.
Even when I play with the best of my partners (both of us close, but not quite 4.5) we play this way, otherwise we have to run for the lobs alk day long. Even a 3.5 can hit a deep lob.

Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
This makes sense to me. Tennis is unfair in that the lob is easy and the smash is hard. With one up, one back there's always someone to get the lob. But when they lob there's always the risk they'll hit a short lob that even a dead man can put away.
 
No. One up, one back. Follow only an excellent serve, or a great groundy, to the net for 2 up.
Even when I play with the best of my partners (both of us close, but not quite 4.5) we play this way, otherwise we have to run for the lobs alk day long. Even a 3.5 can hit a deep lob.

Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
For rec players, I still think S&V is dominant, at least on the Men's side.

The problem with "follow only an excellent serve" to the net is that by the time you recognize it was an excellent serve, you've lost critical time and space and now are more likely to contend with volleying off of your shoelaces. I commit to coming in unless my serve, especially my 2nd serve, is getting surgically destroyed. I was playing against an ex-Div I youngster and he was hitting ridiculously [for me] good returns that I had to lunge just to get my racquet on. So against him I stopped coming in. But he was an exception; I rarely run into returns that good.

If you have to run for lobs all day long, your volleys aren't good enough. Try varying things by hitting short and low, or angled, or loopy deep, or...Just hitting a standard rally ball into their strike zone invites their best shot which may indeed be a lob.

Yes, "even a 3.5 can hit a deep lob" but can he hit it consistently against a more challenging volley? Even at 4.5, the answer is often "no".
 
This makes sense to me. Tennis is unfair in that the lob is easy and the smash is hard. With one up, one back there's always someone to get the lob. But when they lob there's always the risk they'll hit a short lob that even a dead man can put away.
The advantage with 1u+1b is that there's always someone to get the lob. But the disadvantage, which you didn't mention, is that your opponents now have an out by hitting CC [even weakly]. With 2 up, you take away that possibility. Yes, you now have to contend with the lob. I'll take that trade because we typically win more points than we lose with this strategy. And if it turns out it's not our day, we'll adjust.

In the end, you should play to your strengths. So if 1u+1b is your strength, by all means, pursue it. Just be aware of the tradeoffs.
 

toth

Semi-Pro
I think by two up formation both net player schould volley well, expecially smash well.
I have no one such a tennis partner ( i schould improve at the net too).
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
I think by two up formation both net player schould volley well, expecially smash well.
I have no one such a tennis partner ( i schould improve at the net too).
Exactly. The main challenge to play 2 up is your partner not capable and not trusting the tactics. Even if you are not that good, but your partner is good and supportive, you can improve. If your partner takes your SnV, CnC negatively, you are doomed to get lots of lobs and fail on lots on OHs.

Another issue might be weak second serve. You don’t want to either rush the net or stand there as a server’s partner if opponent repeatedly steps in and attacks it from above the cord.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Good point about opening up the hips. I can do that in practice, but in a match I tend to backpedal. That backpedaling is a hard habit to break.
one thing that can really help is to get both arms up above the shoulders right away with the off hand on the throat much like we do with a Fh.....it is awkward to backpedal in this position, but it feels good when you have opened the hips and shoulders with the racket up and prepared....NOT doing a full serve type wind-up
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
My personal pattern of play is to come in on the shot after my serve. If I hit a good serve, my net partner will likely win the point off the weak reply. If I hit a weak serve, I'm generally facing a dipper at my feet. I'd rather take that return and drive a groundie deep and then get in to the net.

On returns, I'm the same way. If I face a tough serve i just try to get ti back deep and then wait for my next groundie when I can dictate placement and come in. If I face a weak serve, I generally drive my return deep and get in right away.

Getting into the net is important but it shouldn't be dogma that it has to happen immediately. Plenty of pro doubles points where the players aren't in to the net immediately.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
Probably a hundred different things to talk about here - I'll try to keep it under twenty.

I'm a reformed serve and volleyer. Following every serve to the net in doubles as well as singles can be predictable and that's not always good. A smart opponent might just lob every return over your doubs partner at the net or block every return down into your feet as you move forward (both in singles and doubles). If I stay back after some serves, a returner isn't so sure of what sort of shot will work to neutralize me. And sometimes when I stay back in the wake of my serve, a slow-and-low return (anticipating my trying to serve and volley) can present an ideal chance for me to hit a slice approach and get to the net in better shape.

It's easy to recommend some work on those overheads, but in terms of what to do for right now in a match, my first thought is to be mindful of over-committing toward the net. If you're not as quick as you wish you were, don't give away too much real estate behind you for the chronic lobsters to bomb at will. You might give away a little bit of extra angle that you'd gain by moving forward an extra step or so, but it might not be a big deal.

Try sorting it out with your partner - different partners make for a recipe of different tactics and preferences. The two of you need to defend the court together. When you can function more as a two-person wall and also cover each other (switching, etc.), you're giving the other guys fewer openings to work with. Much better than behaving like two singles players on the same side of the net. You might agree to occasionally start with both of you at the baseline, perhaps when you're hitting some second serves and opponents are returning those aggressively.

I coach high school teams and they can routinely get into cross-court rallies in the one-up-one-back formation. I sometimes encourage them to plan their poaches when those rallies happen a lot. Before the point starts, they might decide that the net player will cross the middle on perhaps the third ball or the second one from the other end. Some sort of plan like this can be a better alternative to just rallying, trying to avoid the opposing net player, and hoping for the best.

Don't forget that what gives you trouble might also give your opponents some trouble. Try to suck them forward with semi-short low shots that they can't drive. Then after they've lunged forward, you might be able to zip a ball through their feet (if they're in no-man's land) or if they've continued up to the net, put it over their heads. Don't forget to move in once you have them in full retreat.
 

1stVolley

Semi-Pro
If you watch today's pro doubles matches, you'll see a lot of points where the server does not follow the serve to the net. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that today's flat serves are so quick that the 1st volley would be taken before even reaching the service line. Of course a club player is unlikely to be serving 120+ bombs, but then his or her speed of foot will be well below that of the pros and the quality of the volley will be sub-pro as well. There's nothing wrong with staying back on your serve initially so long as the opponent team's receiver doesn't have much better groundstrokes than you do. Note that, if both players are at the net, they shouldn't both be at equal distances from the net unless a good, offensive return was made. Having a staggered formation, with one player a few feet further back than the other, makes it harder for the opposing team to hit through the middle and places one of the team in a better position to handle lobs.

As far as the overhead goes, if you suspect a lob coming as you advance to the net, then hover around the service line to receive their next response shot. In that position you can get in position for any lob but the really good one and you can also effectively close the net if you have to. Also, I believe the club player should not try and hit an overhead at something approaching 100% full power. That shot simply isn't practiced enough to do that and it really isn't necessary. Most lobs are taken at mid-court where extra high speed isn't necessary to evade the receivers. Direction is more important than speed.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Running back for overheads can increase the chances of a fall on the court for senior players. A 75 year old at my club stopped playing after breaking several bones in such a maneuvre.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
Running back for overheads can increase the chances of a fall on the court for senior players. A 75 year old at my club stopped playing after breaking several bones in such a maneuvre.
So he or she just quit forever? In racquetball I charged at a shot, made a quick stop which caused me to fall over. I put my hand out and wound up needing stitches for my hand. Instead of quitting, I decided to not charge at a ball at full speed. Sometimes I'll just decide to lose the point, this way I don't get injured, but can still get some exercise.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
So he or she just quit forever? In racquetball I charged at a shot, made a quick stop which caused me to fall over. I put my hand out and wound up needing stitches for my hand. Instead of quitting, I decided to not charge at a ball at full speed. Sometimes I'll just decide to lose the point, this way I don't get injured, but can still get some exercise.
He broke his hand and had to have bionic implants, and never returned. He and another 75 year old used to play doubles together and say that they had 150 man-years of experience between them.
 
Whenever I move up from the baseline, my weekend partners automatically move back to the baseline.

They have an innate fear of leaving the baseline open. It's very weird.
I had the same thing happen with one partner. I think he was following one of the Conservation Laws [ie "The sum of the distance from both partners to the net must remain constant."].
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
Peter Fleming: Peter Fleming once said that the greatest tennis doubles pairing was John McEnroe and anybody else. Wouldn’t we all like a doubles partner like Supermac, minus the tantrums. We must choose our playing compatriot with caution and bear in mind some of the guidelines we should take into account.

The key to winning doubles is to get a great partner.
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
Running back for overheads can increase the chances of a fall on the court for senior players. A 75 year old at my club stopped playing after breaking several bones in such a maneuvre.
Found out Har-tru is not so comfy apon landing after a fall.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Whenever I move up from the baseline, my weekend partners automatically move back to the baseline.

They have an innate fear of leaving the baseline open. It's very weird.
Yeah, I've had a few partners like that.

Whenever I serve, I come to the net 95 to 100% of the time. When I'm returning serve, I'll come in right away on almost all 2nd serves. Against big 1st serves, I'll come in once in a while with my return. If I don't come in on my 1st ball, I usually come in on the 2nd or 3rd ball that our team plays.

Like you, some partners retreat as soon as I come up to play the net. Sometimes I'll say, "hey where are you going"?. I let them know that I will rarely stay back so they are probably wasting their time starting at the net when I'm serving or receiving.

They might as well just start on the baseline if they going to run away every time I come up to the net. Unless they plan to poach when I serve. But from what I've seen, the players who run away when I move up, never poach anyway.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
@Steady Eddy

Typically, how close are you to the net when playing doubles? I find that many rec or intermediate players hug the net too much -- especially if they have a pretty decent reaction time. They are highly susceptible to lobs, if their opponents are capable of hitting good lobs.

Elite players can sometimes play tight to the net. But these players normally have very good overheads and can quickly move backward if they need to.

Your net position should be determined by your ability, your partner's ability and the offensive abilities of your opponents.

For now, let's say that a solo (intermediate) player at the net, when their partner is serving, should be approx 3 meters (10 feet) off the net. If your partner is receiving, you might start at 6 to 6.5 meters off the net. And then move up, if you see that your partner's return will not be picked off by the opposing that player.

IF 3 meters is normally your offensive net position, you will need to make an adjustment when your partner joins you at the net. Instead of 3 meters, the two of you may assume a position closer to 4 meters off the net. As I indicated previously, these distances from the net will depend on your abilities as well as the abilities of others on the court.

As @5263 suggests, you might asume a staggered position when you and your partner are both at the net.
 
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J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru


As [USER=32690]@5263
suggests, you might asume a staggered position when you and your partner are both at the net. I would further stipulate that you and your partner will be approximately at an equal distance from the ball position. That mean, that the net player who is more-or-less in front of the ball's position will be a bit further from the net... for now, let's say that this player will be about 4 metres or so off the net. However, the partner, who is x-court from the ball will be somewhat closer to the net... let's say 3 meters in this case.
At the Jollettieri Academy we teach this the other way around, cross-court player is deeper.

J
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
At the Jollettieri Academy we teach this the other way around, cross-court player is deeper.

J
Perhaps you can explain the logic of that to me. I suppose that could work depending on the relative strengths of the players on the court. Or maybe either stagger could work for some players.

In badminton positioning, it is pretty standard to have the players equidistant from the shuttle when they execute a high deep clear (lob) -- where the response might be a smash, a net drop or a return clear. I've adopted the same philosophy for tennis when both partners are at the net
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Perhaps you can explain the logic of that to me. I suppose that could work depending on the relative strengths of the players on the court. Or maybe either stager could work for some players.

In badminton positioning, it is pretty standard to have the players equidistant from the shuttle when they execute a high deep clear (lob) -- where the response might be a smash, a net drop or a return clear. I've adopted the same philosophy for tennis when both partners are at the net
It eliminates the cross-court lob, and puts the offensive player (the poacher) in offensive position.

There are a whole slew of other things but I have a lesson in 10 minutes so that is the short version.

J
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
It eliminates the cross-court lob, and puts the offensive player (the poacher) in offensive position.

There are a whole slew of other things but I have a lesson in 10 minutes so that is the short version.

J
I can see that as workable strategy.

My take. It depends on the situation as well as the relative strengths & weaknesses of the players on the court. Do your opponents have the upper hand in this situation or are they in defensive mode? Is it is easier for the opponent to hit a straightahead lib or a x-court lob? Does it make a difference whether the ball, being played by the opponents, is on the deuce side or the ad side?

For the stagger orientation that I suggested, if the x-court player is somewhat closer to the net, then they will have about the same time to react to a driven ball from their opponents as their partner, further from the net.

My orientation preference will tend to discourage the straightahead lob but may encourage a crosscourt lob. But the crosscourt lob will typically spend more time in the air than the straight lob. Many players find it easier to retreat diagonally to retrieve a ball than to move straight back. Might not be true for all players, but I've seen many where this is the case.

Up to 15 yrs ago (my early 50s), I could usually move back much quicker than a majority of my (often younger) partners. My forward mvmnt was quite quick as well. This often had a bearing on our relative positions on the court. My lefty-ness and better Bh volley was sometimes a factor as well.
 
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Dartagnan64

Legend
For the stagger orientation that I suggested, if the x-court player is somewhat closer to the net, then they will have about the same time to react to a driven ball from their opponents as their partner, further from the net.
I'm with Jolly on this one. The Person directly opposite the baseline player should be closer as that more significantly limits the options of said baseline player. If the person directly opposite the baseline player is back at the service line he will get a steady supply groundstrokes at his feet. And drives down the middle open up. And the Cross court lob becomes a clear winner as both players are chasing a ball bouncing away from them.

Only if he can't handle the heat should he lay back (and probably all the way back in that case). Or if the opponents are playing the lob game (nearer the service line in that case). Otherwise the angles favor the same court player being close as it limits the opponents options. When i see the player across from me backing off, I'm going at them with impunity, knowing all they can do is defend from that position. If the CC player is back, while i can try to go at him, there is risk of the same court player poaching. That doesn't happen with your strategy.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, I've had a few partners like that.

Whenever I serve, I come to the net 95 to 100% of the time. When I'm returning serve, I'll come in right away on almost all 2nd serves. Against big 1st serves, I'll come in once in a while with my return. If I don't come in on my 1st ball, I usually come in on the 2nd or 3rd ball that our team plays.

Like you, some partners retreat as soon as I come up to play the net. Sometimes I'll say, "hey where are you going"?. I let them know that I will rarely stay back so they are probably wasting their time starting at the net when I'm serving or receiving.

They might as well just start on the baseline if they going to run away every time I come up to the net. Unless they plan to poach when I serve. But from what I've seen, the players who run away when I move up, never poach anyway.
It's a very weird thing to experience. One time (while losing) I even got frustrated and openly questioned my partner about this. I used all the talks I could think of but no avail.

The thing is, this error affects my game. My strong game is the baseline -- I would do (good) ground strokes until opponent coughs up mistakes which usually is the case. However, once in a while this ground stroke game doesn't work. As soon as I see a handful of points lost from one play, I immediately change up. Closing the net is one of the changes. I'm NOT one of those who keep banging their heads against the same problem hoping for a miracle change. No, I take control and create my own chance.

But this closing of the net on my part requires that my partner stays put as the initial configuration. If I create new dynamics (different configurations) then I know how to take care of it. How to plug the holes I create, naturally. Eg. I would approach the net while keeping an eye on the lob, on covering my partner. But it will get difficult for me that when I create variations (of my own), upon that my partner also create his own. Then it becomes too much for us to understand and handle.

This fits into the fact that I would play very very well if my partner was to do his things well, however limited or narrow, if I understood my partner's actions well. It'd become a sh#@#$#$show if we're losing and my partner cannot step up, or if I step up and then my partner also changes up (because they see I change up?).
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Long time ago, when I took my first lesson from a pro on doubles. The first thing he stressed to me was the importance of following EVERY serve to the net. I remember he said, "I don't mean 98% of the time, I mean 100% of the time." I've found that the trouble with this 'two-up' formation is that it leaves us vulnerable to lobs. I've been watching tennis on television, and even when the pros run up, beat a hasty retreat back for a lob, and smash it out of the air while running backwards, into an open part of the court... Well that looks really difficult. Is it realistic to expect people who sit in a cubicle all day to be able to hit overheads on the run consistently?

What are your thoughts?
IMO, it's not realistic.

After 10+ years of playing I have come to the realization that I should not expect anything or take anything for granted.

If a player can't do an overhead or a volley, then they can't. There's no such thing as "the minimal" or the basis of level. Some day, some one shows up as a very capable person and some other day he shows up as a very crappy player.

If a person didn't practice or were into overheads or volleys, then those skills wouldn't be in their arsenals. That's all.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm with Jolly on this one. The Person directly opposite the baseline player should be closer as that more significantly limits the options of said baseline player. If the person directly opposite the baseline player is back at the service line he will get a steady supply groundstrokes at his feet. And drives down the middle open up. And the Cross court lob becomes a clear winner as both players are chasing a ball bouncing away from them.

Only if he can't handle the heat should he lay back (and probably all the way back in that case). Or if the opponents are playing the lob game (nearer the service line in that case). Otherwise the angles favor the same court player being close as it limits the opponents options. When i see the player across from me backing off, I'm going at them with impunity, knowing all they can do is defend from that position. If the CC player is back, while i can try to go at him, there is risk of the same court player poaching. That doesn't happen with your strategy.
I can see this. However, I was not putting the deeper player close to the back service line at all. I was thinking more like 2 to 3 feet deeper than their partner; not 10 feet deeper.

The stagger orientation that you & @J011yroger suggest is something I've often seen. Have done this with some partners but with other partners, this has not been ideal.

There will always be coverage gaps... whether players are even, they have a large stagger (1 up, 1 back) or a slight / moderate stagger. In some instances, have even employed a moderate stagger in the back court. Often, stroke & mvmnt strengths / weaknesses will determine what relative positions work for a given doubles team. The standard positioning isn't necessarily the best fit in all cases.
 
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It eliminates the cross-court lob, and puts the offensive player (the poacher) in offensive position.

There are a whole slew of other things but I have a lesson in 10 minutes so that is the short version.

J
Yes. This is what I've been taught. The cross court lob is easier to hit, you have more real estate to work with than the down the line lob which has less court to get up and over and then down again in front of the baseline. Trickier shot to hit. It can be very effective, if you can do it consistently - which frankly, most low-mid level USTA players can not.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
It eliminates the cross-court lob, and puts the offensive player (the poacher) in offensive position.

There are a whole slew of other things but I have a lesson in 10 minutes so that is the short version.

J
Are you taking a lesson? I thought you'd only give lessons.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Are you taking a lesson? I thought you'd only give lessons.
Lessons are a very rare commodity in these parts since courts have been closed for 2 months. A small % in the area are just starting to reopen but tennis classes aren't really permitted yet. I envy those in areas where it is permitted at this time.

I have not done any formal teaching since mid-March. Altho' I have worked a bit with a very talented junior player and a couple of Div I & Div II ex-collgiate players in the past 6+ weeks... but none of it for money.
 
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5263

G.O.A.T.
It eliminates the cross-court lob, and puts the offensive player (the poacher) in offensive position.

There are a whole slew of other things but I have a lesson in 10 minutes so that is the short version.

J
yes, that offensive position by the player in front of the ball allows him cut of the angle to strangle anything remotely weak that goes cross court, while still having a very good angle for taking care of his alley. I like to think of the crosscourt guy like a roaming shortstop with time to cover some ground, but he player in front of the ball more like a 3rd baseman in the hot corner.

That said, being about to invert this position when needed is key if the ball switches sides and there is no time for the players to adjust the stagger.
 
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