Doubles Instruction: Stand and Follow
As your partner prepares to serve, the net can be a lonely, tense place. You just hope that the serve goes where it’s supposed to go and try to push aside the fear that the ball will hit you in the back of the head. If all goes well, and you’re quick enough, maybe you can pick off the return and end the point with a strong volley.
At the net, many players just try to survive. But a few simple strategies can relax you and help you thrive. First, know where to stand. Position yourself in the middle of the service box and halfway between the service line and the net. From here you can cover any return your opponent might hit and you won’t reveal where your partner plans to serve.
Once your partner serves, follow the ball. If it’s a wide serve, step toward the doubles alley to take away the down-the-line return. If the serve goes down the “T,” take a step to the center and be ready to poach.
Most important, pay attention to your opponents’ return tendencies. It won’t take long to get a feel for what kind of returns they like to hit (topspin, slice, flat) and where. Discuss these habits with your partner so you can develop a winning strategy.
Greg Moran is the director of tennis at the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, CT, and author of Tennis Doubles Beyond Big Shots. Illustration by Jon Rodgers.
Originally published in the January/February 2012 issue of TENNIS.