Some Basic Strategy for Doubles

Published 8/3/2008 7:05:02 PM by Shane Barrow from Dallas, Texas

After having seen hundreds of tennis doubles matches played by novices, pros and all levels in between. One major difference comes to mind: top players spend as little time in the one up, one back formation as possible.  Why?  Because this formation is viable only if your opponents cooperate. If they choose to come to net together, the one up, one back team is in major trouble! With one player up at net, and one at the baseline, there are several scenarios possible, none of them good.

If the baseline player tries to pass the two net players, there is a big hole between him and his partner for the net players to aim at; his partner is also very exposed at the net, and becomes a target for a hard volley or overhead smash. The net person in the one up, one back formation is pretty much a non-factor, except as a target for his opponents!

If your team likes to play defense, great!  Play both players back on the baseline.  If one player is drawn to the net, his partner should come with him. When your team is serving, try to serve and volley! If that is too uncomfortable, serve and take the first opportunity to approach the net. Try to beat your opponent to the net, it gives your team the advantage. When returning, hit your return, and if at all possible, follow it to the net; if you beat the server to the net, your team has the advantage. Before the match, discuss these tactics with your partner so you are on the same page. Don't be discouraged with failure; you are learning to play better doubles tennis!

What is the downside? Only one! You MUST practice hitting overheads!!! The only viable answer to a team owning the net is to lob! If you can't deal with the lob, you won't be very successful at the net. Your overhead will not improve by ignoring it, so practice hitting overheads often. Practice getting back for overheads, practice hitting them, practice taking the net at all costs, and see your doubles game explode!