Doubles emphasizes and rewards different things and de-emphasizes others. I like both singles and doubles but for different reasons.I find doubles quite difficult, I haven't played a lot, only started playing doubles more or less regularly in the last 3-4 years. But formations etc. are a mystery to me, probably need to read a book lol.
I like doubles for:
- set plays [ie "I'll serve into the body and you poach."]
- both knowing their role at any given instant [and said role can change multiple times during a point]
- picking apart the opponent's defense
- more angles
- crazy scramble plays
- rapid volley exchanges
Formations are only a mystery because no one has explained to you why teams use them. Or you see a random highlight clip and the serving team is using a formation [typically I <"eye">] but there's no explanation as to why.
The basic reasons are:
- Give the receiving team a different look; this alone might disrupt their rhythm
- Emphasize one of your team strengths [the net person in I formation can use their volleys and net coverage to greater effect]
- Introduce uncertainty to the returner [one of the biggest weapons in doubles is to encourage a tentative return]
- Take away one of their strengths [the receiver might have a great CC shot: by playing Aussie, you take away [or strongly discourage] that shot and force them to go DTL
Like anything new, it will feel awkward.
And like anything new, it will cease feeling awkward after you do it enough.
You also have to have a willing partner. If your partner is not open to the idea, no amount of proof or reasoning you offer of the superiority of the tactic will make him/her change.
Here's a simple example: I was playing 8.0 MXDs with a 3.5 woman. We got bageled the first set [See? There's something somewhat related to the thread after all!]. I observed that the guy playing Deuce was scoring point after point by hitting short angle CC where my partner had trouble covering. And she wasn't comfortable with moving 5-8' inside the court and to her right to anticipate the shot because if he hit deep, she would not be able to adjust.
Rather than force her to play inside the BL [which is a logical tactic], I suggested we switch to Aussie. Instead of me lining up in the Ad court, I moved to the Deuce court when she served to him. She also had to move towards the center because she now had to cover the DTL shot to the Ad court.
This simple strategy shift took away the other team's biggest weapon. He was OK at the DTL return but not nearly as good as CC. As an added bonus, my partner's BH is stronger than her FH so she got to hit more of her stronger shot. win-win-win.
We ended up winning the match 0-6 7-5 10-3.
Yes, we made other adjustments but Aussie was by far the most significant.
Some great doubles info:
- *The Art of Doubles* [Blaskower]
- Tennis magazine usually has a column by I think Gigi Fernandez on doubles
- Essential Tennis has a great 3-part series on doubles [there are plenty of great resources on the internet]:
And finally, to anyone who says doubles is boring: