When Different Partners Make The Same Mistake

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I have had many different partners this season (ladies doubles). I am noticing a pattern: My partners do not cross behind me when I poach.

I like to be active at net and poach often (with "poach" defined as needing to move to get a middle ball, not just dealing with a ball sent to you). One of two things seems to be happening.

Either I hit my poach and put the ball away. In this case, my ball is a winner and I do not know where my partner was and whether it had occurred to her to cross behind me.

Or I cross to hit my poach, the receivers return it to the court I vacated, and the ball bounces twice because my partner has not crossed.

I am running out of ideas for how to deal with this. I used to start matches with new partners by telling them that when I poach I will keep going. This made no difference, so I have stopped making that speech. Now I wait for the first time it happens, then I say, "Oh, I'm sorry! When I poach, I'll keep going and won't cross back, so you can cross behind me." No improvement.

Is this just a common problem in doubles and I have to accept that some people do not understand that they should cross immediately when their partner is poaching? Has anyone figured out a solution to this?
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Just like a partner once said to me ... "have you considered serve and volley instead of staying on the baseline?" it was a very nice way of saying get your behind to the net... and it worked

So, say "have you considered crossing to cover when I poach?" passive aggressive seems to work on most people

Your other options
A. poach better so that the ball doesn't come back
B. Stop poaching if you cannot do A
C. Get new partners
D Play singles :p
 

J D

Rookie
Try calling out "switch" when you poach. Some partners might actually do it.

And some still won't. o_O
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I definitely have partners that stay in the same spot they were the last time they touched the ball. Then just react to a ball hit in their direction. Lazy doubles.

So I feel your pain Cindy. Not only should your partners have crossed but they should be getting to the service line since the ball coming back from your poach is very likely to be hit short and poorly. Nothing feels worse than a semi successful poach that leads to a weak replay that falls into a space behind you and no one is anywhere near to put it away.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I have had many different partners this season (ladies doubles). I am noticing a pattern: My partners do not cross behind me when I poach.

I like to be active at net and poach often (with "poach" defined as needing to move to get a middle ball, not just dealing with a ball sent to you). One of two things seems to be happening.

Either I hit my poach and put the ball away. In this case, my ball is a winner and I do not know where my partner was and whether it had occurred to her to cross behind me.

Or I cross to hit my poach, the receivers return it to the court I vacated, and the ball bounces twice because my partner has not crossed.

I am running out of ideas for how to deal with this. I used to start matches with new partners by telling them that when I poach I will keep going. This made no difference, so I have stopped making that speech. Now I wait for the first time it happens, then I say, "Oh, I'm sorry! When I poach, I'll keep going and won't cross back, so you can cross behind me." No improvement.

Is this just a common problem in doubles and I have to accept that some people do not understand that they should cross immediately when their partner is poaching? Has anyone figured out a solution to this?
Just because your partners have been told [by you or others] doesn't mean they practice it so that it's automatic. I get the feeling that most of your partners can see the logic of switching but they just can't pull the trigger in a match because it hasn't been ingrained [yet]. They've been taught that "this is my side; that's my partner's side. I should never go on to my partner's side."

You'll likely not accomplish this learning in real-time so the best you can do is make a suggestion [perhaps a loud one like "SWITCH!!!!"]. If you think you might get paired with that person again, sit down *after* the match and go over this [assuming they are the type to listen].

I happened to watch part of a 3.5 Ladies match and every time a lob went over the net woman's head, at least one yelled "switch" and they both moved in unison. I didn't see any poaches so I don't know how they would have dealt with them. But they clearly understood the concept and could execute it. Do your partners switch on lobs but not poaches? Maybe things are just happening too quickly for them?
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I wonder why I play with anyone who would have me as a partner.

Seriously, partners who don't naturally gravitate to cover the open court are frustrating.

Until I'm used to a partner's habits (or vice versa), calling "switch" really helps communicate intent.

At my level (3.0ish) lots of planned poaches don't end up actual poaches, mostly due to balls hit out of reach of the poacher and/or the inability of the poacher to get to the ball (lots of lobs). Do you still switch if the baseliner chases down a lob in their original corner?

Fortunately, at my level, the ball moves slowly enough that there is usually time to react both to where the partner and the ball are going. But in any case, improved communication is always a bonus - saves energy if nothing else.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
I have had many different partners this season (ladies doubles). I am noticing a pattern: My partners do not cross behind me when I poach.

I like to be active at net and poach often (with "poach" defined as needing to move to get a middle ball, not just dealing with a ball sent to you). One of two things seems to be happening.

Either I hit my poach and put the ball away. In this case, my ball is a winner and I do not know where my partner was and whether it had occurred to her to cross behind me.

Or I cross to hit my poach, the receivers return it to the court I vacated, and the ball bounces twice because my partner has not crossed.

I am running out of ideas for how to deal with this. I used to start matches with new partners by telling them that when I poach I will keep going. This made no difference, so I have stopped making that speech. Now I wait for the first time it happens, then I say, "Oh, I'm sorry! When I poach, I'll keep going and won't cross back, so you can cross behind me." No improvement.

Is this just a common problem in doubles and I have to accept that some people do not understand that they should cross immediately when their partner is poaching? Has anyone figured out a solution to this?
I've seen pros give hand signals behind their back whether they will poach or not so that should indicate what your partner should do.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
I usually wait until I really crush a poach and then turn around and give them the death stare so they don't think that some no volleying bozo is telling them how to play.

My other favorite is when you are at net and your partner hits a weak ball from the baseline and runs to the center of the court. My response to that is to turn around and say what the **** are you running behind me for?

Finally, when I say mine/me/got it on a lob that means you switch and I hit the ball. If you shuffle back and hit a crappy overhead then we are both on the same side of the court.

J
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
All of this is tricky. I shouldn’t be yelling switch while the ball is moving toward the opponents, and by then it is probably too late.

I think what may be happening is that is just not ingrained, as S&V says. And when you are talking ladies doubles, players don’t have the foot speed to make the distance if they stand flat footed until the ball comes back.

Making matters worse is that this is hard to practice. Sure, you can work on it in clinic. But given that poaching/crossing is rare due to issues of speed, there aren’t many opportunities to practice it in matches.

Making matters worse still is that I think some people don’t believe in crossing. When they poach, they return to their side or park in the middle. So why would they think to cross behind me when I poach?
 

darkhorse

Semi-Pro
At the 3.5ish level, this is the norm I think. I'm a very aggressive net player when I play doubles and I have had many of the same issues you've mentioned, and I have tried to explain to me partner that when I poach, it means I'm trying to take control of the point and it works best if both of us go on the offensive. But reaction times just aren't quick enough for a lot of players, or they're not comfortable being aggressive, or whatever else, and it doesn't happen.

Recently my solution was just to treat every poach opportunity as an opportunity to end the point, which means you might have to be more selective on when you do poach. Even then, the opponents might return it and win the point, but so be it. It's a risk vs. reward play and sometimes it doesn't go your way.
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I think if you only poach if you're ending the point will mean you don't poach enough.

If you poach, you can win the point with a winner. But you should also get credit for the points you win because the opponent is distracted because you are a constant threat. And you should get credit for points you win because you took away their time.

I was taught that if you are not poaching twice on your partner's serve each game, you're not poaching enough.

I don't think I am doing that, but I would like to.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
At the 3.5ish level, this is the norm I think. I'm a very aggressive net player when I play doubles and I have had many of the same issues you've mentioned, and I have tried to explain to me partner that when I poach, it means I'm trying to take control of the point and it works best if both of us go on the offensive. But reaction times just aren't quick enough for a lot of players, or they're not comfortable being aggressive, or whatever else, and it doesn't happen.

Recently my solution was just to treat every poach opportunity as an opportunity to end the point, which means you might have to be more selective on when you do poach. Even then, the opponents might return it and win the point, but so be it. It's a risk vs. reward play and sometimes it doesn't go your way.
There is a guy I play with who we call "The Mad Poacher!" He's excellent at putting away most volleys that he can get his racquet on. However when he doesn't put the ball away he often confuses the teammate because he's moving around all over the place at the net so his partner doesn't know what to do and where to go.

The Mad Poacher is very obsessive about poaching. One time I made a little agreement with him and another guy we were playing with to improve the confidence level of one of the players in our group. My partner and I were going to feed easy shots for this guy who I will call player 1. So we figured player 1 will feel better about himself since he was getting slaughtered by people in the group. Player 1 takes the game very seriously and is super competitive although he's not nearly as good as he thinks.

So The Mad Poacher teams with player 1. I told the Mad Poacher not to poach so player 1 can hit the balls that we feed to him which were floaters. So guess what, The Mad Poacher just took all the floaters at the net and put them away. I kept staring at the Mad Poacher with a look that meant "What are you doing! You're not supposed to poach!"

So anyway the Mad Poacher and player 1 wins the match but player 1 didn't hit that many shots due to the obsessive poaching of The Mad Poacher. He can't stop poaching even if we tell him not to! LOL!

@Cindysphinx
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Ah, the Mad Poacher.

I sometimes play socially against a husband/wife mixed team. He's 4.0 and six feet tall; she's 3.5. He is a Mad Poacher. He sets up shop near the middle and considers every ball his to play. He's not worried about crossing and neither is she -- they are often in an I formation.

I like playing against the Mad Poacher because it is such good practice and so hard to get the ball past him. Lobs are out of the question. The things that work best are (1) standing as close to the service line as possible to receive and making sure the return hits the alley, and (2) going DTL with a dipper that lands short of the service line so that if he reads it he can't hit it offensively.

I'd love to get to that point with a partner, as it takes a lot of trust. Many partners lose their minds if you get burned down the line even once.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
I think it's tough as the back player to stay focused sometimes; specifically, not letting up on the ball until it is actually struck. Or knowing it was struck.
So when you poach, you've crossed and the ball is still in play. It doesn't register that the ball as crossed back over the net for a second. If not alert, then it could take 2 seconds. That's probably the difference of getting an adequate first step.

Have you had those shots where your net person started a poach and the ball was going to land in your wheelhouse? Then the poach is not followed through and the ball seemingly flies through your partner's arm? And of course, you had let off the gas thinking the poach was made and you are moving to cover the open court?

That is something I'm working on is to be alert, split step and be ready to move as needed. Also, to keep track of the ball in case my partner bails on the shot...
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
I think it's tough as the back player to stay focused sometimes; specifically, not letting up on the ball until it is actually struck. Or knowing it was struck.
So when you poach, you've crossed and the ball is still in play. It doesn't register that the ball as crossed back over the net for a second. If not alert, then it could take 2 seconds. That's probably the difference of getting an adequate first step.

Have you had those shots where your net person started a poach and the ball was going to land in your wheelhouse? Then the poach is not followed through and the ball seemingly flies through your partner's arm? And of course, you had let off the gas thinking the poach was made and you are moving to cover the open court?

That is something I'm working on is to be alert, split step and be ready to move as needed. Also, to keep track of the ball in case my partner bails on the shot...
2 seconds!!!

J
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I used to play mad poacher style when I was younger and had the foot speed. I called it “Shock and Awe”tennis. Stood in the middle at the net and just anticipated every shot. Basically it forced every opponent to either hit good lobs or very good DTL passes.

Now that I’m a step or two slower, that strategy no longer works.
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
I have had many different partners this season (ladies doubles). I am noticing a pattern: My partners do not cross behind me when I poach.

I like to be active at net and poach often (with "poach" defined as needing to move to get a middle ball, not just dealing with a ball sent to you). One of two things seems to be happening.

Either I hit my poach and put the ball away. In this case, my ball is a winner and I do not know where my partner was and whether it had occurred to her to cross behind me.

Or I cross to hit my poach, the receivers return it to the court I vacated, and the ball bounces twice because my partner has not crossed.

I am running out of ideas for how to deal with this. I used to start matches with new partners by telling them that when I poach I will keep going. This made no difference, so I have stopped making that speech. Now I wait for the first time it happens, then I say, "Oh, I'm sorry! When I poach, I'll keep going and won't cross back, so you can cross behind me." No improvement.

Is this just a common problem in doubles and I have to accept that some people do not understand that they should cross immediately when their partner is poaching? Has anyone figured out a solution to this?
First off, you're right that your partner needs to cross and cover the court you vacated. Not doing so means they're either lazy or low doubles IQ.

But how many times is this happening to you? If you're poaching 10 times how many are you putting away and how many are they returning behind you to the empty court (your partner should be covering)? If you're hitting 8 or 9 winners (or unreturned balls) then yes it's annoying your partner cant get it together and switch, but you're still putting your team at a significant advantage. But if 4 or more of your poaches are being returned behind you, you need to be placing your volleys better. And your partner is standing back there wondering why you're not putting the ball away.

Too many poachers simply hit the volley at the opposite net player. Its easy enough to put the ball away to open court rather than giving the opposite net man a chance to return the ball.

The fact it's happening enough that you created a thread on this topic and that your opponents are returning your poaches for winners makes me think your volley placement needs improvement.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I think my poaches are good.

But if my partners will cross, the worst case is that the point continues.

The frustration is that each sad stab that an opponent makes to keep the ball in play is a weak ball that we could exploit with proper positioning.

In clinic, we drill this scenario. Even in the pros, they do not put away every poach. So our pro drills that once I poach and cross, that next shot into the court I vacated is not my ball. If I try to play it, we will have a collision. But I guess if you never drill these things, you just don’t know.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
If it takes you 2 seconds to react to anything then tennis isn't for you.

J
I'm not saying me. It was just a number used for traffic engineering for stopping sight distance. But if you've seen 3.5s play, sometimes they DO take the full 2sec to take their first step.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm not saying me. It was just a number used for traffic engineering for stopping sight distance. But if you've seen 3.5s play, sometimes they DO take the full 2sec to take their first step.
A 40mph ground stroke will go back fence to back fence in 2 seconds.

J
 

darkhorse

Semi-Pro
There is a guy I play with who we call "The Mad Poacher!" He's excellent at putting away most volleys that he can get his racquet on. However when he doesn't put the ball away he often confuses the teammate because he's moving around all over the place at the net so his partner doesn't know what to do and where to go.

The Mad Poacher is very obsessive about poaching. One time I made a little agreement with him and another guy we were playing with to improve the confidence level of one of the players in our group. My partner and I were going to feed easy shots for this guy who I will call player 1. So we figured player 1 will feel better about himself since he was getting slaughtered by people in the group. Player 1 takes the game very seriously and is super competitive although he's not nearly as good as he thinks.

So The Mad Poacher teams with player 1. I told the Mad Poacher not to poach so player 1 can hit the balls that we feed to him which were floaters. So guess what, The Mad Poacher just took all the floaters at the net and put them away. I kept staring at the Mad Poacher with a look that meant "What are you doing! You're not supposed to poach!"

So anyway the Mad Poacher and player 1 wins the match but player 1 didn't hit that many shots due to the obsessive poaching of The Mad Poacher. He can't stop poaching even if we tell him not to! LOL!

@Cindysphinx

I have definitely played like that before, though I prefer to think of like Johnny Manziel tennis: when the play breaks down sometimes you have to improvise, and sometimes that's when you can play your best tennis.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I have definitely played like that before, though I prefer to think of like Johnny Manziel tennis: when the play breaks down sometimes you have to improvise, and sometimes that's when you can play your best tennis.
Unless you play for the Browns of course .... as a lifelong Browns fan, I really hate Johhny Manziel ... among others.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I thought of another possibility.

I was a 3.5 player before, for about 5 years. I know for a fact that my volleys are better now than they were then. Yet I don't remember being frustrated that partners weren't crossing.

It could be that my partners are not expecting me to take off to poach, as I am probably poaching on balls other folks might not poach on.

Or they might be getting a late start crossing either because they think I won't make the distance.

Or they have been burned before with partners taking off to poach and then bailing; had they started crossing immediately they wouldn't have been able to make a plan. So they have become used to not crossing.

I think I am going to go back to my old practice of telling partners beforehand that I keep going when I poach. And maybe find a way not to play with different partners all the time.
 

5sets

Professional
should be expected when you slum at 3.5 after playing 4.0 your whole life

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G928A using Tapatalk
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I used to play mad poacher style when I was younger and had the foot speed. I called it “Shock and Awe”tennis. Stood in the middle at the net and just anticipated every shot. Basically it forced every opponent to either hit good lobs or very good DTL passes.

Now that I’m a step or two slower, that strategy no longer works.
I don't think it's absolute foot speed, it's foot speed relative to the pace and accuracy of opponents' shots. I doubt I'm any faster than you, but shock and awe tennis still works against some opponents. (Maybe more in MxD with older guys and ladies who have no clue what to do against a tall, 200 lb guy at the net. True weight does nothing but intimidate, but it does that well.)

If it takes you 2 seconds to react to anything then tennis isn't for you.

J
My 50+ crowd plays in slooooooooow moooooooooooootion. 2 seconds is lots of time. Of course, lots of guys try keeping the ball low and (relatively fast) and playing the angles. But if that's not working for them, they resort to slow motion.

Unless you play for the Browns of course .... as a lifelong Browns fan, I really hate Johhny Manziel ... among others.
Improvising is the rule rather than the exception in 50+ MxD (and some younger MxD also at lower levels). Positioning is poor, mobility is poor, racquet skills are mediocre. Here are the rules:
1. Send fuzzy yellow ball back.
2. If possible, hit it where they aren't.
From what I've seen in older and lower levels of womens doubles, things are similar in my neighborhood. My wife doesn't play much womens, because it is too frustrating for her. She tolerates MxD with me, because of the fringe benefits and because I work hard. She played a MxD event last summer with our son where the level of play was high enough to see more conventional doubles strategies on a lot of points, but there were still a lot of points that devolved to the improvisational rules above.

Positioning: The person in back really needs to instinctively adjust to whatever the person in front is doing quickly to minimize the open court available for easy returns. The person in front shouldn't need to say much as this takes time and decision making that slow it all down. The person in back needs to communicate more because the person in front cannot see them. There are lot of videos that make this easy to understand for folks where verbal explanations fall short. Maybe sending partners (or potential partners) some positioning videos would help improve their games - or at least help quickly identify partners with little willingness to improve positioning.

But a lot of times it's not a failure to know where they should be - it's more laziness of not wanting to move to a good position after every shot in anticipation. Don't you know this wastes a lot of energy that may not be needed if the ball isn't hit to them? Energy is best conserved by staying planted in one spot!
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on here. Who’s making the mistake here?

I play a lot of 8.0 mixed, which means I’m a 4.5 playing with a 3.5 gal. I poach almost every opportunity I can get.

But I certainly do not expect a 3.5 gal to cover the court behind me when I poach. A good poacher sets up her partner to be in position, not the other way around. I am obsessive about having my partner always be properly positioned on court, but never once in 15 years of 8.0 league tennis (and dozens of partners) have I had to tell my partner “why didn’t you cover behind me?”

That’s because it’s not her job to do that, and shouldn’t be.

When you poach on a deuce point, for example, starting at net on conventional formation on partner’s serve, if you are not going to be able to hit an outright winner, then 99% of the time you should not continue crossing. Ideally, you should aim your poach to ad court alley - if you stop your crossing and set up camp at center strap, you are perfectly positioned to cover cross court reply, and your partner can cover line without moving. You can even contemplate a second poach moving to your right to cover weak DTL reply (anticipating this reply as a high probability is good move) but only go for it if you can smash it, because then you are actually vacating uncoverable court to do the poach.

On the other hand, if you are poaching behind you in initial poach (I hope that’s not what you meant), then that’s just dumb tennis, because you would be hitting back to returner with no way for either you or your partner to easily cover line.
 
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CHtennis

Rookie
Cindy,
I think you make a great point, and find it fascinating that people think you are at fault because you dont put every poach away. Sure you could aim closer to the line but then you would miss more. Also there is a lot of value in having the returner concerned with what the net player may be doing, it is really hard to quantify that value but it does add up to more missed shots on their end. It is something you should try to practice if there is time in clinic but you are correct that it is hard to replicate. When I was a tennis pro we would have drills where we would poach every time, but it wasnt on the same type of balls, just wasnt the same. That said it would definitely help the back person to know they need to cover behind the poacher and get them used to it.

But I certainly do not expect a 3.5 gal to cover the court behind me when I poach. A good poacher sets up her partner to be in position, not the other way around. I am obsessive about having my partner always be properly positioned on court, but never once in 15 years of 8.0 league tennis (and dozens of partners) have I had to tell my partner “why didn’t you cover behind me?”

That’s because it’s not her job to do that, and shouldn’t be..
As a fellow 4.5 that player that enjoys 8.0, I dont believe this applies to Cindy's question, 8.0 is way different that most tennis especially as a 4.5/3.5 pair. Also, as her partner and she poached the ball, wouldnt you cover the court behind her?
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on here. Who’s making the mistake here?

I play a lot of 8.0 mixed, which means I’m a 4.5 playing with a 3.5 gal. I poach almost every opportunity I can get.

But I certainly do not expect a 3.5 gal to cover the court behind me when I poach. A good poacher sets up her partner to be in position, not the other way around. I am obsessive about having my partner always be properly positioned on court, but never once in 15 years of 8.0 league tennis (and dozens of partners) have I had to tell my partner “why didn’t you cover behind me?”

That’s because it’s not her job to do that, and shouldn’t be.
If you are the 4.5 male playing 8.0 mixed, you are 2.5 levels stronger than your partner. Of course she shouldn't have to cross and cover behind your poach.

I'm 3.5. Say I was playing with a 2.5 female partner. It would be silly for me to expect her to cross behind me or do much of anything, really.

But if we are both 3.5s, we are a balanced team, and positioning together is important -- if we want to win.[/quote]

When you poach on a deuce point, for example, starting at net on conventional formation on partner’s serve, if you are not going to be able to hit an outright winner, then 99% of the time you should not continue crossing. Ideally, you should aim your poach to ad court alley - if you stop your crossing and set up camp at center strap, you are perfectly positioned to cover cross court reply, and your partner can cover line without moving. You can even contemplate a second poach moving to your right to cover weak DTL reply (anticipating this reply as a high probability is good move) but only go for it if you can smash it, because then you are actually vacating uncoverable court to do the poach.
Again, you're talking about unbalanced mixed where you are expected to cover the whole court.

The last thing I should do is stop my poach and park myself in the middle. I know this because of how badly things turn out when my partners do this -- there I am in an I-formation unclear on where to go, with the opponents having 80% of the court open.

At 3.5, I do sometimes have partners who poach and continue crossing and stay there. Sometimes the ball comes back despite the poach. And guess what -- I'm there at the service line. That really is the better positioning for a balanced team in doubles, IMHO.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Cindy,
I think you make a great point, and find it fascinating that people think you are at fault because you dont put every poach away. Sure you could aim closer to the line but then you would miss more.
So what is the standard for a poach? Many people think the standard is hitting a winner -- if you cannot hit a winner on your poach, you should not poach that ball.

I disagree. I think you poach when you think you can hit a "quality ball." A quality ball is not a wounded duck or a sitter. A quality ball is solid, has weight, has intention, is offensive. If you are at net striking a solid ball, you are in a good position so why would not want that advantage?

But a quality ball could most definitely come back -- I am often surprised at the anticipation skills and hands of some players. The fact that a poach does not end a point does not make it a mistake, IMHO.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on here. Who’s making the mistake here?

I play a lot of 8.0 mixed, which means I’m a 4.5 playing with a 3.5 gal. I poach almost every opportunity I can get.

But I certainly do not expect a 3.5 gal to cover the court behind me when I poach. A good poacher sets up her partner to be in position, not the other way around. I am obsessive about having my partner always be properly positioned on court, but never once in 15 years of 8.0 league tennis (and dozens of partners) have I had to tell my partner “why didn’t you cover behind me?”

That’s because it’s not her job to do that, and shouldn’t be.

When you poach on a deuce point, for example, starting at net on conventional formation on partner’s serve, if you are not going to be able to hit an outright winner, then 99% of the time you should not continue crossing. Ideally, you should aim your poach to ad court alley - if you stop your crossing and set up camp at center strap, you are perfectly positioned to cover cross court reply, and your partner can cover line without moving. You can even contemplate a second poach moving to your right to cover weak DTL reply (anticipating this reply as a high probability is good move) but only go for it if you can smash it, because then you are actually vacating uncoverable court to do the poach.

On the other hand, if you are poaching behind you in initial poach (I hope that’s not what you meant), then that’s just dumb tennis, because you would be hitting back to returner with no way for either you or your partner to easily cover line.
That sounds like taking the middle ball, not poaching.

It's not poaching if the return is in your area of responsibility.

J
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Cindy,
I think you make a great point, and find it fascinating that people think you are at fault because you dont put every poach away.
My philosophy is that I'm going to try and pick up anything my partner can't reach. I don't care whose "fault" it is that I'm scrambling like someone with his hair on fire. If it's a repeatable mistake, I'll point it out although maybe not during the match.

Partners who expect the net person to put every ball away aren't being realistic, IMO. Sure, it's the desired outcome but, as the guy on the BL, I have to be ready for anything.

More important for me is did my partner exercise good judgment in poaching? If the answer is "yes", then I'm fine with the consequences, even if we lose the point. Because odds are we will win more of those points than we will lose.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
The last thing I should do is stop my poach and park myself in the middle. I know this because of how badly things turn out when my partners do this -- there I am in an I-formation unclear on where to go, with the opponents having 80% of the court open.
I sometimes do this: I'm gambling that the response will be so weak that there's a very good chance I'll get a sitter to pound. And even if the ball gets past me, it will be weak enough that my partner can easily get it.

Obviously, if we lose more points than we win this way, I will back off. But I like being opportunistic at net.
 

samiam158

New User
I think I am going to go back to my old practice of telling partners beforehand that I keep going when I poach. And maybe find a way not to play with different partners all the time.
I think you have to tell your partner you're going to poach and DO IT.
I play with and against an aggressive net player and she usually puts away anything that she poaches but as we've climbed the ladder, we have found less are put a ways and lots more come back. She poaches most of the time so you can rely on her moving...she doesn't need to say much........but I also play against her. I can not tell you how many shots in one match i get her down the line. She moves too soon, pinches the middle......gives away her poaching cause she does it all the time.

Sooooooo.....if your partner is not getting to the other side and you have missed the poach....can't really blame her about that. You need to stay home if it's the other way around then give far warning. I like to know what my partner is thinking!
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I played with one of my non-crossing partners again recently. This time I kept mental track of what was happening with the poaching.

I didn't get many poach opportunities. Partner's serve is weak; partner's groundstrokes are strong; opponents were so weak they often missed outright. Opponents also threw up high balls that I couldn't reach, so it was hard to get into points.

However, there were two points that stuck out in my mind. On both, I was in the deuce court. The opponent's shot had a lot of angle but was slow, so I thought I could catch up to it. I crossed and made contact near the singles sideline. I would call it a lucky poach rather than a good one -- I was stretched out and didn't have a lot of real estate to work with, so I lob-volleyed the ball over the net player in front of me into the deep corner behind her. I stopped and did not cross back over to the ad court, of course. Baseline opponent couldn't reach it, so lucky winner both times.

After all of that activity, I turned around and both times my partner had not taken one step to cross behind me.

It is hopeless. I guess some partners just react to the ball once it is struck and do not think about positioning in response to what their partner has done.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
I played with one of my non-crossing partners again recently. This time I kept mental track of what was happening with the poaching.

I didn't get many poach opportunities. Partner's serve is weak; partner's groundstrokes are strong; opponents were so weak they often missed outright. Opponents also threw up high balls that I couldn't reach, so it was hard to get into points.

However, there were two points that stuck out in my mind. On both, I was in the deuce court. The opponent's shot had a lot of angle but was slow, so I thought I could catch up to it. I crossed and made contact near the singles sideline. I would call it a lucky poach rather than a good one -- I was stretched out and didn't have a lot of real estate to work with, so I lob-volleyed the ball over the net player in front of me into the deep corner behind her. I stopped and did not cross back over to the ad court, of course. Baseline opponent couldn't reach it, so lucky winner both times.

After all of that activity, I turned around and both times my partner had not taken one step to cross behind me.

It is hopeless. I guess some partners just react to the ball once it is struck and do not think about positioning in response to what their partner has done.
I too would be too dumbfounded that you crossed all the way to the singles sideline to poach a ball to move. Clearly if you had to travel that far I'd be in a much better position to hit a quality shot than you were.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
I too would be too dumbfounded that you crossed all the way to the singles sideline to poach a ball to move. Clearly if you had to travel that far I'd be in a much better position to hit a quality shot than you were.
#coasttocoast

J
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I too would be too dumbfounded that you crossed all the way to the singles sideline to poach a ball to move. Clearly if you had to travel that far I'd be in a much better position to hit a quality shot than you were.
I've chased down some slices that were that wide and put them away. If you get a jump on a slow ball, you can definitely chase some balls down that seem stupidly far outside your normal responsibilities.

I think the thing that is more frustrating is when you feel you could have chased that out wide ball down, but left it for your serving partner, only to watch in horror as they are still behind the baseline and can't get to the ball before it bounces twice. That's when you realize you need to chase more balls down
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I too would be too dumbfounded that you crossed all the way to the singles sideline to poach a ball to move. Clearly if you had to travel that far I'd be in a much better position to hit a quality shot than you were.

You'd only be in a better position if you weren't glued to the baseline.

Some partners Will Not Come To Net No Matter What And Will Backpedal If They Accidentally Find Themselves There.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I've chased down some slices that were that wide and put them away. If you get a jump on a slow ball, you can definitely chase some balls down that seem stupidly far outside your normal responsibilities.

I think the thing that is more frustrating is when you feel you could have chased that out wide ball down, but left it for your serving partner, only to watch in horror as they are still behind the baseline and can't get to the ball before it bounces twice. That's when you realize you need to chase more balls down

Dude read my mind.

Ya gotta find a way to get into those interminable lob baseline rallies you see at this level or you'll spend the whole match standing at net waiting for someone to send you a ball.

And once you start going, you have to keep going. Can't cross the center line and then have second thoughts. 'Cause your partner is supposed to read that you are going and cross!
 
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