Who should play the ad side?

kevrol

Hall of Fame
#1
The lefty/righty combination thread got me thinking. When playing doubles what's your opinion if neither player has a side preference and given that both players are right handed. Should the stronger player play the ad or deuce side?

My preference is always for the stronger player to play the ad side because they'll be able to save more ad points.

One of the guys I play tennis with, who is the better player than me, insists that he play the deuce side. His logic is if he plays the deuce side we will have fewer ad out points to play.

Just curious what others may think.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
#2
Whichever side is better for the ROServe. Keep it low, keep it deep, keep it away from the netman.
Some say the more consistent to duece, to allow the bigger hitter, and less consistent, to break serves.
Some say the harder hitter to duece, to allow the softer hitting more consistent ad court returner to keep them in the game.
Neither is better than the other, it depends how the player's are performing in the long run.
 

BlueB

Hall of Fame
#3
I'm with Lee on this, it comes down to return preferences.
I often insist of playing add side, as I don't like returning Backhand inside out, or very stretched out side-spinned FH on deuce side.
On ad side, I'll obliterate the FH, and good luck serving wide to my BH if you can not put decent pace or kick on it.


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#4
All things being equal, the more consistent player should play the ad to save the team's bacon, and bring it back to deuce. All things not being equal, with a less mobile player, he should play the ad side, (if the servers are righties), because on the deuce side the gimp has to run after the slice out wide. On the ad side, the toughest serve for a righty server is the flat to the ad side line.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
#6
All things being equal, i'd keep the forehands in the middle, the idea is that most serves will go down the middle to get the server's partner more involved. Also, while the bh's on the wings might be vulnerable to say a big kicker, they have the advantage of being able to return to a bigger area (angle).
Things that might change my decision:
* does either opposing have a particular weapon going out wide to ad or deuce side (ie. someone having an exception good kick), i might switch to have fh on the wing
* player(s) have a preference to play their fh on the wing
* a different look for the servers
 
#7
I'm going to be in this dilemma in league this year. My partner is a lefty and I'm a righty. In righty-righty situations I tend to play the ad court since I have a solid 2HBH return from that side and a pretty decent slice return if I get thrown way out wide (which is rare unless a lefty is serving). But often when I get paired with lefties, they want to play ad side to protect their weak BH against the righty slice serve to the deuce court. The other thing I like about the ad side is I have a pretty good dipper down the middle FH shot that often gets me easy points if the opponent sends something down the middle of the court deep.

So I'm not sure what will be best since I suspect we'll both prefer the ad side.
 
#8
The lefty/righty combination thread got me thinking. When playing doubles what's your opinion if neither player has a side preference and given that both players are right handed. Should the stronger player play the ad or deuce side?

My preference is always for the stronger player to play the ad side because they'll be able to save more ad points.

One of the guys I play tennis with, who is the better player than me, insists that he play the deuce side. His logic is if he plays the deuce side we will have fewer ad out points to play.

Just curious what others may think.
From a purely statistical standpoint, Deuce will either receive the same # of serves as Ad or one more during any given game. That has to be weighed against the Ad side having the bigger points [ie Ad in/out & 15-30 are typically mentioned]. The more of a number cruncher you are, the more you'll tend toward the former [*Moneyball* anyone?]. I've never seen any analysis of this.
 
#10
It depends on the level of play. If 4.0+ then servers can place the serve to the backhand consistently, and hitting inside out backhand ROS from the deuce court is really really tough, especially if the serve is strong. IMO the better backhand should return deuce side if 4.0+. If 3.5 and below, the better overall player should return ad side.
 
#11
The ad player will play more "game points" than the deuce player. 40-0/0-40/ad-in/ad-out. The deuce player can only win/lose with a score of 15-40/40-15.

The ad player also has to play all of the middle balls most of the time. This means they have to put away OH's, ground strokes, and volley if the BH volley is in a passive position. Of course, assuming two right handed players. When there is a lefty playing deuce side, you have two forehands/OH's in the middle so it needs to be determined in advance who gets the middle balls by default.

It's almost always advisable for a significantly stronger player to play ad side as they have more important returns and most of the middle balls.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#12
For me it depends on the opponent's strengths, especially on serves. I am mobile, but I have a slow first step, especially to my right. This translates to giving up a lot more aces in the deuce court than in the ad court. Against strong servers, I am less of a liability in the ad court, especially when paired with partners with a quicker first step protecting against aces on those wide deuce court serves.
 
#13
One thing I see a lot that gets overlooked is that against righties, the deuce side returner has to get the ball cross court past the net man's forehand volley. Ad side has to cross a righty net man's backhand volley. Most recreational players attack volleys better with a forehand volley. This generally comes into play when I am paired with a partner who either takes the return from further back in the court, or someone who doesn't hit with pace. In that scenario, I would rather them play ad side.
 
#14
One thing I see a lot that gets overlooked is that against righties, the deuce side returner has to get the ball cross court past the net man's forehand volley. Ad side has to cross a righty net man's backhand volley. Most recreational players attack volleys better with a forehand volley. This generally comes into play when I am paired with a partner who either takes the return from further back in the court, or someone who doesn't hit with pace. In that scenario, I would rather them play ad side.
I actually like my BH volley way more than my FH volley, but that's probably because I hit a 1HBH. When I play with an equally skilled partner, I prefer the deuce side. It gets complicated when OH's arnt getting put away in the middle, however. The worst way it can play out is the Ad player does not take an OH, then im running backwards hitting a BHOH from deep in the middle of the court. That's bad juju. When I get to play ad side, I get to hit those neat BHOH's sharp CC!
 
#16
All things being equal, I think the stronger player should play the deuce side. I know that most game points are played on the ad side, but you can't break serve if you don't have a break point.

I had this epiphany in a match that was the 3rd or 4th in a row where I was playing on the ad side with a partner who was losing most of his points on the deuce side. As I got into position to try to bring the game back to deuce for the umpteenth time that day, I thought to myself "what's the point of me playing the game points if all of the game points are in their favor?"
 
#17
I'm somewhat in the same boat but it's not because my BH volley is better than my FH but that I generally try to do less with my BH volley and thus make fewer errors and at most levels, making fewer errors is a winning strategy.
I'm super aggressive on my Bh volley poaches. I hardly ever poach with my FH volley. haha
 
#19
All things being equal, I think the stronger player should play the deuce side. I know that most game points are played on the ad side, but you can't break serve if you don't have a break point.

I had this epiphany in a match that was the 3rd or 4th in a row where I was playing on the ad side with a partner who was losing most of his points on the deuce side. As I got into position to try to bring the game back to deuce for the umpteenth time that day, I thought to myself "what's the point of me playing the game points if all of the game points are in their favor?"
I dont understand this logic.

Why would you want the weaker player to be playing 3x as many "game points" than the stronger player? Yes, you cant break if you dont get a break opportunity... but that also applies to the ad side player as well. I've heard people say this "deuce thing" but the reality is that it would be much worse if you win most deuces and lose most ads. Once you lose a deuce, you've lost the game. If you're losing most deuces, you can still hold on for your life on ad-out. If you manage to win a deuce, you have a good chance of winning the game!
 
#22
No. If the stronger player is playing deuce court, you've pretty much lost the game if you lose the deuce. If the stronger player is playing the ad court, then you havnt prematurely lost the game on a deuce point.
Because "Ad side plays more important points" is balanced out with "Deuce side plays as many or more returns as Ad". You have to decide which is more important. IMO, it's not a cut-and-dried answer. I think it's more important who is more comfortable on which side.
 
#23
I dont understand this logic.

Why would you want the weaker player to be playing 3x as many "game points" than the stronger player? Yes, you cant break if you dont get a break opportunity... but that also applies to the ad side player as well. I've heard people say this "deuce thing" but the reality is that it would be much worse if you win most deuces and lose most ads. Once you lose a deuce, you've lost the game. If you're losing most deuces, you can still hold on for your life on ad-out. If you manage to win a deuce, you have a good chance of winning the game!
Well, I don't understand your question. Basically, you're asking me why I would prefer to have most of the game points in my favor instead of my opponents' favor. To me, that's a no-brainer: game point for me is better than game point for my opponents. But, there's more to it than that.

If the server is constantly facing the weaker player on neutral points (0-0, 15-15, etc.) and the stronger player when he is ahead in the score (15-0, 30-15, etc.), then there's not much pressure on him. He and his partner are more free to play aggressively and take risks against the stronger player since they're usually ahead in the score, which puts the stronger player under even more pressure (on top of being behind in the score).

On the other hand, if you switch things around, then the server is usually facing the stronger returner on neutral points and usually behind in the score against the weaker player. That means the serving team plays more conservatively against both returners than they would the other way around. It also means they're more likely to double-fault against the weaker player if they're the nervous type simply due to the pressure of facing break points.

On top of that, for most people, hitting inside-out backhands is much more difficult than hitting crosscourt. The timing is quite difficult, especially when you're also trying to avoid a net man looking to poach with a forehand volley. And, if you move over to the middle to hide your backhand, most righties can hit a decent enough wide slice serve to take advantage of the big hole you leave out there. So, you're taking someone with a weak backhand and putting them in a situation where they have to hit the most difficult type of backhand with someone standing at the net looking to pounce on any mistake.

On the ad side, it's easier to hide your backhand against righties, it's easier to pull it crosscourt when your opponent does manage to find it, and your opponents are less likely to try poaching if they're behind in the score. All of that increases the chances of the weaker player winning his points.
 
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#24
No. If the stronger player is playing deuce court, you've pretty much lost the game if you lose the deuce. If the stronger player is playing the ad court, then you havnt prematurely lost the game on a deuce point.
Statistically it doesn't matter though. You can likewise say that if the stronger player is playing the ad side, then you've pretty much lost the game if you lose the ad point. The number of points needing to be won or lost is the same. It's only the psychology that's different in your head. One can also make an argument that if the stronger player is on the deuce side, there will be more game points in your favor, which takes pressure of the weaker player and puts it on the other team.
 
#25
Well, I don't understand your question. Basically, you're asking me why I would prefer to have most of the game points in my favor instead of my opponents' favor. To me, that's a no-brainer: game point for me is better than game point for my opponents. But, there's more to it than that.

If the server is constantly facing the weaker player on neutral points (0-0, 15-15, etc.) and the stronger player when he is ahead in the score (15-0, 30-15, etc.), then there's not much pressure on him. He and his partner are more free to play aggressively and take risks against the stronger player since they're usually ahead in the score, which puts the stronger player under even more pressure (on top of being behind in the score).

On the other hand, if you switch things around, then the server is usually facing the stronger returner on neutral points and usually behind in the score against the weaker player. That means the serving team plays more conservatively against both returners than they would the other way around. It also means they're more likely to double-fault against the weaker player if they're the nervous type simply due to the pressure of facing break points.

On top of that, for most people, hitting inside-out backhands is much more difficult than hitting crosscourt. The timing is quite difficult, especially when you're also trying to avoid a net man looking to poach with a forehand volley. And, if you move over to the middle to hide your backhand, most righties can hit a decent enough wide slice serve to take advantage of the big hole you leave out there. So, you're taking someone with a weak backhand and putting them in a situation where they have to hit the most difficult type of backhand with someone standing at the net looking to pounce on any mistake.

On the ad side, it's easier to hide your backhand against righties, it's easier to pull it crosscourt when your opponent does manage to find it, and your opponents are less likely to try poaching if they're behind in the score. All of that increases the chances of the weaker player winning his points.
A lot of your examples only illustrate specific circumstances in which the stronger player would perform better on the deuce side. All of them can be countered with simply different shot selection, or are just too general to support any side of the argument. "Pressure" can be applied in a lot of different ways, regardless of which player is playing on that particular side. People can double fault at any time. Inside-out backhands are a hard return, but arnt impossible, but at the same time they could be playing I formation, you could lob, and normal lobs would have to be played by the weaker player unless the stronger player wants to play backhand overheads.

Statistically it doesn't matter though. You can likewise say that if the stronger player is playing the ad side, then you've pretty much lost the game if you lose the ad point. The number of points needing to be won or lost is the same. It's only the psychology that's different in your head. One can also make an argument that if the stronger player is on the deuce side, there will be more game points in your favor, which takes pressure of the weaker player and puts it on the other team.
You could say it's "statistics", but I dont think so. There is a reason why most professional mixed doubles teams have the man playing the ad side and the woman playing the deuce side. Why do you think that is? Purely psychology? Do you think it's also "psychology" that the stronger server of a pair serves first? "Statistically", who serves first shouldnt matter? Or, does it?
 
#27
"Once you lose a deuce, you've lost the game"

That happened to me once in a tournament. Not only did I lose the game, I ran off the court to the bathroom, ran to my car, and never came back to that tournament ever again...
 
#29
A lot of your examples only illustrate specific circumstances in which the stronger player would perform better on the deuce side. All of them can be countered with simply different shot selection, or are just too general to support any side of the argument. "Pressure" can be applied in a lot of different ways, regardless of which player is playing on that particular side. People can double fault at any time. Inside-out backhands are a hard return, but arnt impossible, but at the same time they could be playing I formation, you could lob, and normal lobs would have to be played by the weaker player unless the stronger player wants to play backhand overheads.
My examples are based on things I see in matches a lot of the time.

I play with a lot of people who struggle with their backhands, so they ask me to play the ad side as per traditional wisdom. But then I watch them struggle to get any inside-out backhands in play that get past the net player. So, they move to the middle, which just leads to aces or service winners out wide. So, they move back to a normal position and fluff more backhands. And that goes on for the course of the match, and I find myself behind in the score most of the time.

But, on the odd occasion when I convince them to switch around, they hide their backhand better and pull the ball crosscourt better from the ad side than they do from the deuce side. They're still not hitting great backhands, but they're better than their inside-out ones. I also see our opponents playing less aggressively against my partners when they are behind in the score on the ad side than they do when it's even on the deuce side. They're also less aggressive when it's even against me on the deuce side than they are when they're ahead against me on the ad.

As for pressure, I'm talking about the additional pressure that comes from the score. Most people play differently at 30-40 than they do at 40-30. Going ahead in the score puts your opponents under additional pressure on top of everything else that you're doing with your shots and positioning. That makes them more likely to tighten up, play conservatively, or hit their go-to shots (which can be predictable, giving you the opportunity to take a pre-planned risk).

Finally, if my partner had the ability to consistently hit deep lobs off of serves, then I wouldn't consider him/her to be a weak returner and we probably wouldn't be losing most of the points on his/her side. As for facing lobs in your return games, realistically, those come on the stronger player's returns and I don't think they happen often enough to base your decision on when it comes to who plays which side.

Yes, in an ideal world, the stronger player would play every game point, which would always be break point, and take every overhead without hitting backhands. But that's not a realistic option for a weak-strong pair. The realistic options are either the strong player is usually trying to fight off game point or the weaker player is trying to convert break points.
 
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#30
I still don't understand this, if the score is deuce, and you lose a point you are at AD-OUT--and NOT game over.
Stronger player loses "deuce". Weaker player is now returning from the "ad" side and therefore the game is lost.

Compared to...

Weaker player loses the deuce. Stronger player is now returning with a score of ad-out. You're still in the game.

My examples are based on things I see in matches a lot of the time.
It's completely anecdotal, which is my point. I could say that people love to serve aces out wide, and since even the stronger player cant return those aces, the stronger player should therefore play deuce so they can get in more points. It's a custom scenario, not a standard situation.

I play with a lot of people who struggle with their backhands, so they ask me to play the ad side as per traditional wisdom. But then I watch them struggle to get any inside-out backhands in play that get past the net player. So, they move to the middle, which just leads to aces or service winners out wide. So, they move back to a normal position and fluff more backhands. And that goes on for the course of the match, and I find myself behind in the score most of the time.
And I could say that serving a kick serve out wide on the ad side is much easier to hit vs. a kick serve down the middle. This means that if the weaker player plays the ad side they will have to hit many more backhands than if they return on the deuce side. Sure, they may have an easier CC BH return, but they will have to hit the backhand much more often than on the deuce side even if they feed balls to the net guy. Also, I could also say that a BH DTL return from the deuce side is a very natural return. If a net player is super aggressive at failed IO-BH's, you can burn them DTL which is a much more natural shot.

As for pressure, I'm talking about the additional pressure that comes from the score. Most people play differently at 30-40 than they do at 40-30. Going ahead in the score puts your opponents under additional pressure on top of everything else that you're doing with your shots and positioning. That makes them more likely to tighten up, play conservatively, or hit their go-to shots (which can be predictable, giving you the opportunity to take a pre-planned risk).
Also, a very situational argument. What if I said that I only serve second serves to the weak player, regardless of the score? But, against the stronger player I will serve big on both serves, especially on scores where we are winning or losing by a lot? None of those things has to do with which side either of the players are playing, EXCEPT that we're more likely to see the Ad-side player during an game point.

Finally, if my partner had the ability to consistently hit deep lobs off of serves, then I wouldn't consider him/her to be a weak returner and we probably wouldn't be losing most of the points on his/her side. As for facing lobs in your return games, realistically, those come on the stronger player's returns and I don't think they happen often enough to base your decision on when it comes to who plays which side.
Again, this is completely situational. This "insane serve return lobber" can also hit those lobs from the deuce side. I'd rather have that on the deuce side since it's not likely game point. I dont want someone hitting a lob return on a game point. How can you expect to win points when the first "ground stroke" your opponents hit is an OH? Even if it is at the baseline after the bounce?

Yes, in an ideal world, the stronger player would play every game point, which would always be break points, and take every overhead without hitting backhands. But that's not a realistic option for a weak-strong pair. The realistic options are either the strong player is usually trying to fight off game point or the weaker player is trying to convert break points. Personally, having been in the former situation a lot, I prefer the latter because we break serve more often that way.
In the "ideal world" the stronger player plays ad side. This is why a great majority of professional mixed doubles combos use the man on the ad side and not the woman. This isnt "psychology" or "custom scenarios". It's simple tactics, and statistically the ad-side of the court sees many more game points than the deuce side. The men play ad side in mixed so they can hit OH's in the middle and return a majority of game points. Even in Hopman Cup which is no-ad scoring and "same gender" returns at deuce, you still have the men playing the ad side a majority of the time, just because having the OH's and protecting the middle is the biggest responsibility.
 
#31
Stronger player loses "deuce". Weaker player is now returning from the "ad" side and therefore the game is lost.

Compared to...

Weaker player loses the deuce. Stronger player is now returning with a score of ad-out. You're still in the game.
How is that any worse than strong player loses ad, game over? And think about the situation where the serving team has had two or three ad points that the strong returner has fought off. Eventually, they're going to just start going for more on that side like trying a planned poach, going for two first serves, or just go for bigger shots all-round. After all, they've got nothing to lose when they're ahead in the score.

If they're always behind in the score against the weak player, they're not so likely to take such risks because they do have something to lose in that situation.


It's completely anecdotal, which is my point. I could say that people love to serve aces out wide, and since even the stronger player cant return those aces, the stronger player should therefore play deuce so they can get in more points. It's a custom scenario, not a standard situation.
At what point does it stop being anecdotal? I see it play out with quite a few different players, so at what point can I admit there's a trend?

And I could say that serving a kick serve out wide on the ad side is much easier to hit vs. a kick serve down the middle. This means that if the weaker player plays the ad side they will have to hit many more backhands than if they return on the deuce side. Sure, they may have an easier CC BH return, but they will have to hit the backhand much more often than on the deuce side even if they feed balls to the net guy. Also, I could also say that a BH DTL return from the deuce side is a very natural return. If a net player is super aggressive at failed IO-BH's, you can burn them DTL which is a much more natural shot.
How is a kick down the middle more difficult than out wide? If you're playing against someone who can't figure out that serving from really wide on the deuce side limits their options to hit down the middle, then you don't have much to worry about in general.

But, if you do play someone with a kick serve who is smart enough not to stand way out by the singles line, then hitting an inside-out backhand from the deuce side against the kicker is more difficult for most people than crosscourt from the ad side. Neither is an easy shot, but one is more difficult than the other.

Also, a very situational argument. What if I said that I only serve second serves to the weak player, regardless of the score? But, against the stronger player I will serve big on both serves, especially on scores where we are winning or losing by a lot? None of those things has to do with which side either of the players are playing, EXCEPT that we're more likely to see the Ad-side player during an game point.
If you're completely disregarding the score on every point on serve, then it still makes sense to have the strong player on the deuce side, because those important game points on the ad side will more likely be break points if the strong player is on deuce than if the weaker player is. And as I've said before, you can't break serve without break points.

Again, this is completely situational. This "insane serve return lobber" can also hit those lobs from the deuce side. I'd rather have that on the deuce side since it's not likely game point. I dont want someone hitting a lob return on a game point. How can you expect to win points when the first "ground stroke" your opponents hit is an OH? Even if it is at the baseline after the bounce?
I can't really understand what point you're trying to make with lobs. It seemed that you suggested lobs as an alternative shot for someone with a weak return, as if they can consistently hit good lobs off of serves. Now you seem to be admitting that lobs from a weak player would result in a lot of overheads for the serving team (i.e., the weak player can't hit consistently good lobs from serves).

The only thing I can understand is the hypothetical situation where the serving team is hitting a lob. But that isn't going to happen unless the returning team either hits a good lob down the line or the server stays back and sees the returner hit a good return and come to the net (and even then, the server might not lob). I don't think either happens often enough to be a determining factor when it comes to choosing sides.


In the "ideal world" the stronger player plays ad side. This is why a great majority of professional mixed doubles combos use the man on the ad side and not the woman. This isnt "psychology" or "custom scenarios". It's simple tactics, and statistically the ad-side of the court sees many more game points than the deuce side. The men play ad side in mixed so they can hit OH's in the middle and return a majority of game points. Even in Hopman Cup which is no-ad scoring and "same gender" returns at deuce, you still have the men playing the ad side a majority of the time, just because having the OH's and protecting the middle is the biggest responsibility.
And how often do things change in tennis? People used to hit flat, continental forehands for decades, but now they don't. People used to play serve and volley for decades, and now they don't. People used to play rightie-leftie on deuce and ad, but the most successful doubles pair in all of history plays the other way around. Maybe people keep playing that way because they've been told to play that way by people who themselves were told to play that way. Some people just never question their coaching.

I know I always followed the traditional wisdom until I realized that, for me personally at least, the other way around works better. I win more often when I'm setting up break points for my partner over and over than when I'm clawing games back to deuce over and over.
 
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#32
How is that any worse than strong player loses ad, game over? And think about the situation where the serving team has had two or three ad points that the strong returner has fought off. Eventually, they're going to just start going for more on that side like trying a planned poach, going for two first serves, or just go for bigger shots all-round. After all, they've got nothing to lose when they're ahead in the score.

If they're always behind in the score against the weak player, they're not so likely to take such risks because they do have something to lose in that situation.
How is that any worse? Are you kidding? You wanna lose games at 40-Love or 40-15? That's NOT the same thing. That's like saying "Oh, I only go for winners, because a loss is a loss, so im going to throw any sort of consistency out the door. 6-0 is 6-0, even if i've won zero points, vs. losing every deuce."

You cant be serious...

You also are still conveniently forgetting that you can run plays against the weaker player too...

Question: The score is 40-Love. The opponents decide to do two big first serves, poach, then hit a winner on first contact. Who do you want returning the ball? Same question for scores 40-15 and 40-30. You're arnt really going to say you want the weaker player returning, are you?

At what point does it stop being anecdotal? I see it play out with quite a few different players, so at what point can I admit there's a trend?
Just go watch professional mixed doubles and tell me how often you see a female playing the ad side of the court. There is nonesuch more an obvious example to answer the question of "who should play ad side when there is a great skill disparity in the combo". I dont know what you're observing to generate your conclusions, but you need to widen your scope.

How is a kick down the middle more difficult than out wide? If you're playing against someone who can't figure out that serving from really wide on the deuce side limits their options to hit down the middle, then you don't have much to worry about in general.

But, if you do play someone with a kick serve who is smart enough not to stand way out by the singles line, then hitting an inside-out backhand from the deuce side against the kicker is more difficult for most people than crosscourt from the ad side. Neither is an easy shot, but one is more difficult than the other.
Unless you're playing I-formation, you're probably not serving from the center hash in doubles. If you are not serving from the center hash, then the target inside the box which forces a BH return is a lot smaller on the deuce side than on the ad side. When you serve to the ad side, you can hit any wide part of the box really easily, and consistently as that's a natural angle for a righty. Remember, with righty spin, a kick down the middle is kicking INTO your opponent from the deuce side, which means it's that much easier to "run around" it and hit a forehand. When you do that same serve on the ad side, it's kicking AWAY from them making it harder to run around.

I can't really understand what point you're trying to make with lobs. It seemed that you suggested lobs as an alternative shot for someone with a weak return, as if they can consistently hit good lobs off of serves. Now you seem to be admitting that lobs from a weak player would result in a lot of overheads for the serving team (i.e., the weak player can't hit consistently good lobs from serves).
The point is that a lob return can be played in a jam, especially in the lower levels of tennis. For the purpose of this example, im going to say the weaker player hits lots of lob returns to enter the point because they dont have the means to hit topspin drives away from the net person.

And how often do things change in tennis? People used to hit flat, continental forehands for decades, but now they don't. People used to play serve and volley for decades, and now they don't. People used to play rightie-leftie on deuce and ad, but the most successful doubles pair in all of history plays the other way around. Maybe people keep playing that way because they've been told to play that way by people who themselves were told to play that way. Some people just never question their coaching.

I know I always followed the traditional wisdom until I realized that, for me personally at least, the other way around works better. I win more often when I'm setting up break points for my partner over and over than when I'm clawing games back to deuce over and over.
If you really think there is a lot of merit to having the weaker player playing the ad side, then I advise you to sell your professional coaching services on the pro tour. I expect to see a lot of the mixed doubles teams playing women on the ad side in the future.

Some people really believe that consuming special herbs will reverse hair loss, or increase the size of... things. Some people believe in wearing a magical bracelet will cure body pain. To some extent, it's harmless.

Also, the Bryan brothers dont always play with Bob (lefty) in the deuce court. In fact, the last tournament i've heard, they've switched return positions. Bob the lefty is in the ad side, and Mike the righty is deuce side.
 
#33
I still don't understand this, if the score is deuce, and you lose a point you are at AD-OUT--and NOT game over.
Well our league plays no-ad scoring. So theoretically, in some situations, losing deuce can lose you a game. Of course in no-ad scoring, the receiving team gets to pick who gets to return the next point at deuce so the ad side could still face all the tough points if that's where your best returner is.
 
#34
As others have mentioned, there is a trade-off between the fact that the deuce court will receive more serves over the course of a match versus wanting your stronger returner to receive on the ad points. To me both are valid and I usually default to just having players return on the side where they are most comfortable. Over a full match I believe that will maximize the number of return points that you win. Here's what it breaks down though... Tiebreaks. In any close tiebreak, the set/match points will all be to the ad court. Having a weaker, less confident player receiving on match point is a huge disadvantage to the receiving team. The server doesn't have to go for much, the server's partner can be extra aggressive at the net, and the receiver is worried about just getting the ball back in play.
 
#35
Just go watch professional mixed doubles and tell me how often you see a female playing the ad side of the court. There is nonesuch more an obvious example to answer the question of "who should play ad side when there is a great skill disparity in the combo". I dont know what you're observing to generate your conclusions, but you need to widen your scope.
Just went to Youtube and first video of pro mixed doubles, the Rio Gold medal match, both sides had the woman playing the ad side.
 
#36
Just went to Youtube and first video of pro mixed doubles, the Rio Gold medal match, both sides had the woman playing the ad side.
You need to get your eyes checked. At no point did Mattek-Sands return from the ad side during the match. Only Venus was playing the ad side.

FWIW: Williams/Ram got destroyed in the second set (6-1) and ultimately lost the match.

Edit: The fact that two people liked your post without even checking if the claim was true is disturbing. Or, they did check it, and didnt see who was serving vs. who was returning. Obviously the woman is going to be playing the ad side when her male partner is serving from the deuce side.
 
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#37
Sock played Ad, Williams played Ad.

It's irrelevant, though: one match does not answer the thread's question. Furthermore, even if one were to analyze all of the pro matches and found that one setup was used decisively more than the other, how would that translate to rec play?

I don't think there's a "right" answer. It comes down to the strengths/weaknesses/preferences of the specific team. As I previously stated, independent of how good each player is, the Deuce side will receive more serves [unless every game ends in an even # of points played] while the Ad side plays more of the "big" points. Those 2 factors, along with many others, must be weighed.

Or, just flip a coin. :)
 
#39
Here's one way to decide: just look at the RoS variable. Throw everything else out.

Assume 2 righties.

Deuce plays CC FH + IO BH.
Ad plays CC BH + IO FH.

Look for the weakest shot and avoid it. So if I have a great CC FH but a lousy IO BH, it may be a better idea for me to play Ad. This depends on the level: I play 4.5 and most opponents can target their serves reasonably well so I won't be able to easily run around a BH to hit a FH.

An even simpler way is to look at level of *dis*comfort and avoid that. For example, if I'm comfortable on Deuce and mildly uncomfortable on Ad but my partner is considerably uncomfortable on Ad, I should play Ad.

I'll do what it takes to maximize my team's strengths and minimize its weaknesses even if it means playing on my less-favored side.
 
#40
I admit to the same sin of omission. I would have checked if I thought it would help me decide but in this case [see my above post], I didn't think so.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Paes/Hingis yet. Hingis plays Ad court on returns.

About that combo, though...

Paes actually admits that his returns are "average" and hers are "exceptional", especially against lefty men like Danny Nestor who frequent the doubles tour. Because she might actually be the "stronger player" in terms of returns, she should be playing ad side. Yes, she's a female, but some females could actually be stronger than males, especially when you're looking at a small part of the game and not the entire game.

Venus may be stronger on returns than Ram. Azarenka may be stronger than Mirni on returns as well.

But, these "female playing ad side" examples are few and far between. They are definitely not "the weaker player playing ad side, because genius strategy", so I hope people realize this.
 
#43
the better player //close thread :eek:
That's too simplistic.
One player may be overall better but actually have worse returns. And the better player could be a fantastic returner from the deuce side but average from the ad side. Etc.
I think of it this way: Give each player a score out of 10 for how good a returner they are from each side. Then go with the combination that gives you the highest total.
So for example maybe the stronger player is a 9 from the ad side, and 8 from deuce. The weaker player is 7 from ad side, and 4 from deuce. In this case weaker player should play ad, stronger should play deuce.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
#44
That's too simplistic.
One player may be overall better but actually have worse returns. And the better player could be a fantastic returner from the deuce side but average from the ad side. Etc.
I think of it this way: Give each player a score out of 10 for how good a returner they are from each side. Then go with the combination that gives you the highest total.
So for example maybe the stronger player is a 9 from the ad side, and 8 from deuce. The weaker player is 7 from ad side, and 4 from deuce. In this case weaker player should play ad, stronger should play deuce.
you are incorrect. You want the better player to keep you in the game.
The better player will usually have a better return as well. Remember it is not all about power but also placement and depth and guile.
 

DANMAN

Professional
#46
I agree with OrangePower. Making someone play from behind is not a bad strategy. I am way better on the ad side because I have always played on that side. My return is better from that side and my court instincts are better as I tend to come in behind my serve a lot so the only way I give up the ad side is if 1) the person I'm playing with has a better return than me from the ad side and wants that side or 2) the person I'm playing with is weak from the deuce side but returns much better from the ad side even if I am the better player. If I know the person I'm playing with has the ability to make returns from the deuce side and is a weaker returner than me, he is playing the deuce side. If he is going to miss most returns on the deuce side but make most from the ad side, I'll play the deuce side. I would much rather play against a team that plays their better returner on the ad side even if that is not his stronger side. If I am serving, I would rather be serving at 40-30 or ad-in than ad-out. If the better returner is on the deuce side, you may find yourself facing more break points that way. The best combination is the one that is going to allow the team to get as many returns in the court as possible. Winning in doubles is about first serves and returns made.
 
#47
All things being equal I tend to prefer having the lefty play deuce and the righty play ad. You generally have an easier time returning serves to the BH cross court if they are hit out wide. I also like having two forehands covering the middle when volleying

This of course may change if one player has a better return on one of the sides. Like another poster said above, the return is the most important variable here. Play it to put as many returns in play as possible
 
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Nacho

Professional
#48
The lefty/righty combination thread got me thinking. When playing doubles what's your opinion if neither player has a side preference and given that both players are right handed. Should the stronger player play the ad or deuce side?

My preference is always for the stronger player to play the ad side because they'll be able to save more ad points.

One of the guys I play tennis with, who is the better player than me, insists that he play the deuce side. His logic is if he plays the deuce side we will have fewer ad out points to play.

Just curious what others may think.
I think a few people have said this, but there isn't a "stronger" player side. You could in theory say the Ad side is because it sees the most game points and this is critical, but so are the set up points. It is really a matter of comfort of return versus the serves you are playing. For instance my Backhand return on the Deuce side is stronger, so typically I would favor this side. However, my run around forehand is strong, and I have success with it in matches during critical points.

I would just suggest if you have a new partner to have a brief conversation about comfort on the returns, and preferred positioning on the court. If they don't care or worse don't know, its best to insist on what you feel comfortable with that alone will immediately build confidence from your partner. So, if I am playing with someone new and they say they want a certain side, I have immediate faith they are confident in their abilities from that side.....
 
#49
I believe it simply comes down to which side each player returns better. I have long observed that everyone returns better from one side or the other. If you ask a player which side they return better and they say it doesn't matter... they are right, it probably doesn't matter as they aren't any good from either side.
 
#50
You need to get your eyes checked. At no point did Mattek-Sands return from the ad side during the match. Only Venus was playing the ad side.

FWIW: Williams/Ram got destroyed in the second set (6-1) and ultimately lost the match.

Edit: The fact that two people liked your post without even checking if the claim was true is disturbing. Or, they did check it, and didnt see who was serving vs. who was returning. Obviously the woman is going to be playing the ad side when her male partner is serving from the deuce side.
My mistake. Must have had tennis dyslexia going on. Still the point is that finding at least one example in the first match I watched indicates it might be less than a rare
occurrence. But random is random with small sample sizes.
 
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