Doubles with partner that stays back

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
I'm playing doubles with someone I've never played with before who told me he has weak volleys and stays back the whole match. He said he plays with a lot of spin and not a lot of pace.

My game is pretty all court and I have solid volleys, but am not great at knowing when to poach and have had trouble with certain volleys, such as a forehand at an awkward height. Aside from an occasional point where our opponent is attacking my or my partner's serve I've never played with my partner not wanting to take the net.

Should I still play my normal game or should I try and change anything up? Usually when returning I try and get into the net, but would that not be as effective with my partner at the baseline even if I hit a good approach? Should I try and poach more (even though I'm not great at it)?
 

TagUrIt

Professional
What level of tennis are you playing? I’ve seen this a LOT in recreational tennis. People aren’t confident or even worse are afraid to be at the net. Is this going to your teammate or was this just a social match. It’s tough trying to get a player to do something on the court that will improve their game and help you both win as a team. Depending on the personality it’s received or offensive. My first instinct is to tell you find a new partner lol, but that’s not always the answer. You could serve and volley but eventually your opponents will discover this weakness on your team. The only real solution is to ask your team mate to at the very least play at the service line. They can at least hopefully get to short balls. Otherwise your basically playing singles out there.
 
If both players are not playing in concert with each other they are not really playing doubles; they are just two singles players on the same side of the court struggling to play a doubles match. Two back is a legitimate strategy, but if your partner never moves up when your side is on the offensive, then your chances of winning are basically shot.

If this person is going to be your partner from now on I would suggest discussing some strategy with him. Check out some tennis strategy books from the library or find something online that seems like it will work for you as a team. If your partner is uncooperative or if this is just a one time thing then you might as well use the match to practice your poaching so you get something positive out of your time on court.
 

CosmosMpower

Hall of Fame
If both players are not playing in concert with each other they are not really playing doubles; they are just two singles players on the same side of the court struggling to play a doubles match. Two back is a legitimate strategy, but if your partner never moves up when your side is on the offensive, then your chances of winning are basically shot.

If this person is going to be your partner from now on I would suggest discussing some strategy with him. Check out some tennis strategy books from the library or find something online that seems like it will work for you as a team. If your partner is uncooperative or if this is just a one time thing then you might as well use the match to practice your poaching so you get something positive out of your time on court.
One time I played a doubles USTA tournament final against two dudes that were good at the net but not that good from the baseline so we just turned it into a singles baseline contest. Me and my partner just both played back and lobbed the net guy and exchanged groundstrokes with the guy at the baseline. Eventually they played 2 back but one had a bad backhand and one had a bad forehand so we just picked on the weaknesses and won the match.
 

2nd Serve Ace

Hall of Fame
If he prefers to stay back, I assume your partner is quick around the court, so I would rely on that and get very aggressive at the net. Let him know to switch sides if you poatch.

Sent from my LG-LS993 using Tapatalk
 

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
What level of tennis are you playing? I’ve seen this a LOT in recreational tennis. People aren’t confident or even worse are afraid to be at the net. Is this going to your teammate or was this just a social match. It’s tough trying to get a player to do something on the court that will improve their game and help you both win as a team. Depending on the personality it’s received or offensive. My first instinct is to tell you find a new partner lol, but that’s not always the answer. You could serve and volley but eventually your opponents will discover this weakness on your team. The only real solution is to ask your team mate to at the very least play at the service line. They can at least hopefully get to short balls. Otherwise your basically playing singles out there.
This is the 4.0 level. He told me he has just started playing more doubles. Fortunately this is just a social match and not part of the league or anything. All of my doubles partners there are competent to excellent at the net. Some of them don't move well at the baseline or have weak backhands so I'm used to my partner rushing the net off weak balls. There are a few team members with more placement than pace, but they will move into the net if we lob the other team or are able to crush returns if I hit a good serve.

When should I ask him to play the service line?
 

TagUrIt

Professional
When should I ask him to play the service line?
I would say when you’re serving. When I see two players on the baseline, I’m going to return short. I get it, some people just aren’t comfortable at the net, he’s going to have to evolve at some point, but rather than try to change his whole game, maybe play to his strengths. You’re gonna have to play up more and let him hang back. This is NOT ideal btw, but maybe a temporary fix until you guys figure out what works best.
 
I would say when you’re serving. When I see two players on the baseline, I’m going to return short. I get it, some people just aren’t comfortable at the net, he’s going to have to evolve at some point, but rather than try to change his whole game, maybe play to his strengths. You’re gonna have to play up more and let him hang back. This is NOT ideal btw, but maybe a temporary fix until you guys figure out what works best.
How is having someone whose comfortable at the BL going to help the team effort if he plays at the SL? Now he both can't hit his preferred shot AND he might have to volley. I see this as being the worst of both worlds.

I'd tell him to stay where he's comfortable and to be on the lookout for poaching opportunities by you. Is this ideal? No, but you have to play the hand you were dealt, not try and get an inside straight where one doesn't exist.

And I don't see it as an immediate lost cause: how do we know his partner's GSs are not better than the other team's net game? They might very well be better.

If the OP is getting hammered while at net, he can back off and play 2 back: the most defensive position but you make the other team prove they have the net game to win. Perhaps they don't. Now the partner's strength is being used rather than his weakness.
 

TagUrIt

Professional
How is having someone whose comfortable at the BL going to help the team effort if he plays at the SL? Now he both can't hit his preferred shot AND he might have to volley. I see this as being the worst of both worlds.

I'd tell him to stay where he's comfortable and to be on the lookout for poaching opportunities by you. Is this ideal? No, but you have to play the hand you were dealt, not try and get an inside straight where one doesn't exist.

And I don't see it as an immediate lost cause: how do we know his partner's GSs are not better than the other team's net game? They might very well be better.

If the OP is getting hammered while at net, he can back off and play 2 back: the most defensive position but you make the other team prove they have the net game to win. Perhaps they don't. Now the partner's strength is being used rather than his weakness.

Everyone will have an opinion about what the right way to handle this. The truth is, this is a lose-lose situation, his partner having little to no volley skills makes playing doubles that much harder. Unfortunately, this player is not a 4.0 with such an incomplete game. My thinking was at least at the service line he has a fraction more of time to hit a shot. If standing right at the net is uncomfortable for him at the service line he can at least make a play at the ball. He's going to have to become a better at volleying, instead of hanging back on the baseline. I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong by no means. There is still a lot we don't know about this situation, too many variables. Maybe his guy has incredible wheels and get to short balls from the baseline. Maybe he's out of shape and can only hit from the baseline. All in all even if he's a singles player, he's going to have to adapt to doubles. I guess my question is even at singles you have to volley and come to net, what does he do in his singles matches?
 
Everyone will have an opinion about what the right way to handle this. The truth is, this is a lose-lose situation, his partner having little to no volley skills makes playing doubles that much harder. Unfortunately, this player is not a 4.0 with such an incomplete game. My thinking was at least at the service line he has a fraction more of time to hit a shot. If standing right at the net is uncomfortable for him at the service line he can at least make a play at the ball. He's going to have to become a better at volleying, instead of hanging back on the baseline. I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong by no means. There is still a lot we don't know about this situation, too many variables. Maybe his guy has incredible wheels and get to short balls from the baseline. Maybe he's out of shape and can only hit from the baseline. All in all even if he's a singles player, he's going to have to adapt to doubles. I guess my question is even at singles you have to volley and come to net, what does he do in his singles matches?
Fair enough. I'd start the match by having him play in his comfort zone and adjust from there [assuming he's flexible enough to adjust].

I've seen plenty of guys at 4.0 who basically stayed on the BL. One time my partner had a tendency to back away from the net as I moved forward.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I'm playing doubles with someone I've never played with before who told me he has weak volleys and stays back the whole match. He said he plays with a lot of spin and not a lot of pace.

My game is pretty all court and I have solid volleys, but am not great at knowing when to poach and have had trouble with certain volleys, such as a forehand at an awkward height. Aside from an occasional point where our opponent is attacking my or my partner's serve I've never played with my partner not wanting to take the net.

Should I still play my normal game or should I try and change anything up? Usually when returning I try and get into the net, but would that not be as effective with my partner at the baseline even if I hit a good approach? Should I try and poach more (even though I'm not great at it)?
play your normal game which is rushing the net. and let him stay back. if you alter your game, you are making your team weak by abandoning your strength. If he can't win points from the baseline, that isn't your fault, and you need a new partner. If he is going to stay back on baseline cause that is his best game, then he needs to win points from baseline as well. If he can't, tell him he should play singles 99 % of the time
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
What level of tennis are you playing? I’ve seen this a LOT in recreational tennis. People aren’t confident or even worse are afraid to be at the net. Is this going to your teammate or was this just a social match. It’s tough trying to get a player to do something on the court that will improve their game and help you both win as a team. Depending on the personality it’s received or offensive. My first instinct is to tell you find a new partner lol, but that’s not always the answer. You could serve and volley but eventually your opponents will discover this weakness on your team. The only real solution is to ask your team mate to at the very least play at the service line. They can at least hopefully get to short balls. Otherwise your basically playing singles out there.
happens alot in the pros too... if the baseliner has a strong baseline game, seems to work,... most points seem to be the baseliners get into a long rally until either 1 comes to net... or the net person paoches (or gets passed),... more often than not, it seems like the point ends when the net person poaches for a winner.

you also don't want to force your partner to play net if they can't... ie. don't have a volley.

main thing for anyone playing 1up 1back... is that the net person has to be constantly active (poaching, faking, adjusting, etc... ),... if you're standing still you're doing it wrong.
don't know where to move? get a book or watch a yt vid (cayer is my fave)
IMO the issue with most rec folks in dubs, is kinda the same problem that i have coaching kid's soccer... the net person doesn't feel like they are contributing unless they are hitting the ball... so they aren't moving, vying for a better position, distracting etc...

that said, all things being equal, i'll always take a parnter that likes to come to net, over someone that likes to blast from the baseline (because typically their baseline game has to be significantly better than the net persons volley game - ie. like 4.0 level groundies playing 3.5 level net skills)
 

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
Thanks to everyone for your advice. Had a lot of fun playing the match and surprisingly we won! It was a tight 1st set and blowout 2nd.

As 2nd Serve Ace thought, he was very quick. That speed along with great placement and spins allowed us to stay in points we had to right to win. It was very much a strong defensive gameplan and forced the other team to win the point. Honestly they were not as strong as some other teams I've played and had they been strong at the net and more consistently aggressive I thought we would have lost badly. As it was though 1 player was better than the other and they were both too tentative and got into long rallys with partner, who was able to set me up at the net.

As you might imagine the main disadvantage to this playstyle was it was very difficult for us to finish points. On my serve they would drop the ball short to my partner in the return or rally and then he'd just run and bunt it back and backpeddle, putting us in a tough spot. Also on some of the return games if I or my partner hit a weak ball and they were both aggressive and came in I felt very uncomfortable at the net with both at the net and my partner at the baseline. Fortunately he had a great lob and also could slice the ball to their feet at the net.

Overall I felt very awkward the 1st set and it forced me to play a bit more aggressively at the net than I used to doing, but it worked and was a lot of fun. I just don't think it would work against stronger 4.0 players.
 

ext2hander

Rookie
Dump him and find a new partner.
If you like to serve and come in toward net, your partner hanging at the baseline leaves the court wide open, i.e. zero pressure on returner. They will return to your partner's side, or if on partner's side of center line force you to over-reach to volley or half volley such returns (because your partner is hugging the baseline waiting for the ball to come to him). Takes the fun out of the game, even at ~3.5 level, actually frustrating to say the least.. As the server, the ball will seldom be returned in your direction, and allow you to improve your half-volley or volley game.

Don't get stuck with a baseliner, particularly one that keeps backing up behind the baseline to catch the ball low and topspin for returns. I really hate it when they run forward for a return, then start back peddling in "anticipation" of the return. Or, if smarter opponents return very short, your partner thinks because he's fast he runs like a bat from hell and to try to hit a hard low percentage return. The reason they must run so fast is that they are badly out of position!
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I've has a couple of partners that would start out at the net. But as soon as I followed my serve, or any other shot, up to the net, they would retreat to the baseline. They insisted on playing 1-up, 1-back even when we were on the offensive and had control of the rally. Some ppl are just paranoid about playing 2-up. Go figure. Probably not confident covering or chasing down lobs.
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ext2hander

Rookie
I've has a couple of partners that would start out at the net. But as soon as I followed my serve, or any other shot, up to the net, they would retreat to the baseline. They insisted on playing 1-up, 1-back even when we were on the offensive and had control of the rally. Some ppl are just paranoid about playing 2-up. Go figure. Probably not confident covering or chasing down lobs.
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See this all the time. Either 3.0 or players who must hit from behind baseline. Even after encouraging to start at service line, and I'm returning serve or serving, as soon as I hit the ball and come forward, they back peddle toward the baseline. They say, "what IF opponent lobbed". Good grief.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I've has a couple of partners that would start out at the net. But as soon as I followed my serve, or any other shot, up to the net, they would retreat to the baseline. They insisted on playing 1-up, 1-back even when we were on the offensive and had control of the rally. Some ppl are just paranoid about playing 2-up. Go figure. Probably not confident covering or chasing down lobs.
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I've definitely had this issue in some dubs matches. We've got the opponent at a disadvantage, I rush in to take control of the point and my partner, seeing this, beedles back to the baseline. Arrrgghhhh.

But the 1 up/ 1 Back force is strong in some people.

When I have one of these partners I just hope they can put pressure on the opponent with their groundies so I can get some poaching chances. If they can't I just hope they have a decent lob. Moonball retrievers get destroyed in dubs as the net guy just meanders back the T and hammers everything out of the air.
 

ext2hander

Rookie
Now if the same BL player is serving, often a weak short serve sitter, I'll hang in middle of backcourt until the serve has passed. Any decent returner can drill me were I inside the service line. I don't play 4.5 tennis, so I'll take my chances with volleys or half-volleys from the back court, then come toward net as the point dictates. Though its legit, some players will always drill or hit down at the net player given a weak serve, as if they are a great player. Or, if they pass down the alley, server will say I ought have covered -- to which I'd reply, "then stop hitting high sitter serves wide to the alley!" better to loop wimpy serves down the middle. Guess they think angled serves to corner are harder to return ... no, easier to pass any net player silly enuf to stand at service line. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
 
If you like to serve and come in toward net, your partner hanging at the baseline leaves the court wide open, i.e. zero pressure on returner.
Disagree. Just because my partner is on the BL doesn't mean there's zero pressure on the opponent if:
- my partner is hitting deep or with heavier spin than the opponent can easily handle
- I'm poaching/fake poaching/pinching the middle so much that it gets into the opponent's head

Is that my preferred way to play doubles? No, I like for my partner to join me at the net. But I don't control who my partner is or how they play.
 
I've has a couple of partners that would start out at the net. But as soon as I followed my serve, or any other shot, up to the net, they would retreat to the baseline. They insisted on playing 1-up, 1-back even when we were on the offensive and had control of the rally. Some ppl are just paranoid about playing 2-up. Go figure. Probably not confident covering or chasing down lobs.
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As with a partner I had, they are following the 5th law of thermo tennis dynamics: "The sum of the distances between both players and the net must remain constant." So, as I rushed the net, my partner backed away.
 

ext2hander

Rookie
What I meant was, if serving and partner behind BL, the returner has much less pressure when returning cross-court away from the net person. Of course, if the net person is a known bad commodity, the returner can hit away and if it goes or targets the net person, so be it. More often, as the server there are few balls returned cross-court in my direction for half-volley or volley.
 

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
I've has a couple of partners that would start out at the net. But as soon as I followed my serve, or any other shot, up to the net, they would retreat to the baseline. They insisted on playing 1-up, 1-back even when we were on the offensive and had control of the rally. Some ppl are just paranoid about playing 2-up. Go figure. Probably not confident covering or chasing down lobs.
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I've never heard of someone backing up because his partner is approaching the net. That must be extremely frustrating.

A few years ago I went to a doubles clinic and some of the players would start at the net and as soon as the point started they'd start to backpedal. As soon as I saw this I hit it to them on my 1st shot as they were backpedaling and the pro chastised me for taking advantage of them. I figured it would teach them the importance of at least attempting to volley. I asked what the point was of them starting up if they were just going to retreat and he said they're still learning.
 

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
What I meant was, if serving and partner behind BL, the returner has much less pressure when returning cross-court away from the net person. Of course, if the net person is a known bad commodity, the returner can hit away and if it goes or targets the net person, so be it. More often, as the server there are few balls returned cross-court in my direction for half-volley or volley.
That's absolutely right. As I pointed out the biggest weakness with my partner staying back was in my service games. Normally in doubles if you hit a good serve your partner at the net will put away a weak reply. With him staying back they'd just bunt the ball back DTL and keep me out of my service game. What really worked for them was hitting a short low return to my partner since they knew he wouldn't follow it in. He was extremely consistent and could hit a lot of spins, but we would get into a neutral rally and not get any easy points from a weak return.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I've never heard of someone backing up because his partner is approaching the net. That must be extremely frustrating.

A few years ago I went to a doubles clinic and some of the players would start at the net and as soon as the point started they'd start to backpedal. As soon as I saw this I hit it to them on my 1st shot as they were backpedaling and the pro chastised me for taking advantage of them. I figured it would teach them the importance of at least attempting to volley. I asked what the point was of them starting up if they were just going to retreat and he said they're still learning.
Foolish pro. I would have applauded you for illustrating a why it doesn't make a lot of sense to start at the net if you are just going to back up as soon as the point starts.
 

user92626

Legend
I've has a couple of partners that would start out at the net. But as soon as I followed my serve, or any other shot, up to the net, they would retreat to the baseline. They insisted on playing 1-up, 1-back even when we were on the offensive and had control of the rally. Some ppl are just paranoid about playing 2-up. Go figure. Probably not confident covering or chasing down lobs.
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That's a weird phenomenon, isn't it?

I also do know a few like that. It makes no sense to me.

I love playing 2 up when my partner is semi competent up there. In my mind 2 people at the net feels very organized and easy.

The only time that I tell (and want) my partner to paddle back is when I accidentally pop an easy ball for the opponent to overhead. While the ball is in midair I would tell my partner to back up for safety and coverage. They usually don't because they can't process fast enough.
 

Fintft

Legend
The only real solution is to ask your team mate to at the very least play at the service line. They can at least hopefully get to short balls.
Maybe not the service line, but inside the baseline. At least that's what I do, once in a while, in a 2 back setup.
 
That's a weird phenomenon, isn't it?

I also do know a few like that. It makes no sense to me.
It makes perfect sense if the player doesn't like the net. My only question is, why not then start on the BL?

Of course, then one could ask why is he playing doubles but that's a different topic.
 

user92626

Legend
It makes perfect sense if the player doesn't like the net. My only question is, why not then start on the BL?
That's what makes it illogical and weird. Why starts at the net and then retreat unnecessarily when the partner moves up!!?



S&V, do you play 3 vs 3 sometimes? If you're good at volleying, it's really fun. You can also improve your volley in 3 vs 3.

I love it but I get annoyed when I partner with guys who can't volley or don't understand how crucial the net game is in 3 vs 3. Give me one decent volleyer where he and I go up and block the net, our winning chance will be virtually solid. 3 vs 3 is really emphasizing the net skill and it's fun like having a solid defense line in football.
 
S&V, do you play 3 vs 3 sometimes? If you're good at volleying, it's really fun. You can also improve your volley in 3 vs 3.

I love it but I get annoyed when I partner with guys who can't volley or don't understand how crucial the net game is in 3 vs 3. Give me one decent volleyer where he and I go up and block the net, our winning chance will be virtually solid. 3 vs 3 is really emphasizing the net skill and it's fun like having a solid defense line in football.
I haven't tried it. Do all 3 have to start on the BL? Any serving involved or just a feed?
 

Fintft

Legend
It makes perfect sense if the player doesn't like the net. My only question is, why not then start on the BL?

Of course, then one could ask why is he playing doubles but that's a different topic.
On the BL, exactly.

As for your later point, he could cover say only 1/3 of the court, letting the serving (and better) partner cover the rest 2/3?
Besides, what if he is really good at passing shots?
 

user92626

Legend
I haven't tried it. Do all 3 have to start on the BL? Any serving involved or just a feed?
Everyone takes turn to serve per game. Anyone can return but cannot return for both sides in a row.

Other than that, any formation is ok.

A good 3vs3 has a lot of lobs to get over 2 up / 1 back (the best formation). It's very hard to ground stroke past 2 good net players. It's also hard to find an empty spot to overhead off a decent lob. A good back player returns (usually a lob) the ball back a lot. If it's hard to break a serve game in dubs, it's even harder in 3v3.

3vs3 is a good fit when you have 6 players and everyone is tired or bored with dubs.

3v3 emphasizes stroke skills, not running though I have seen a great BL player run like crazy to chase down most overheads hit his way.

Your ground strokes have to be better to pass two net players. Your volley has to be better to defend / kill any ground strokes. You can't excuse that you are at the baseline. The server is put on the spot to serve well since the serve has bigger impact on the ground stroke or the volley. Lobs must be used. Not optional. Good initial setup/positioning is more emphasized than running/movement, ie most areas are covered.
 
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