Court Calculus: Beat 'Em With Butterflies
Doubles is a game of intricate strategy and precision, yet so many club players just go on court and play point after point without much of a plan. That’s not how great doubles teams operate. Teams that win rely on set patterns of play, and they use the ones that work best over and over again.
I call one of my favorite strategies the Butterfly Method. The idea is simple: First attack either the middle of the court, which will squeeze the opposing players to the middle, or the outside alley, which will stretch one player out wide. Then attack the opposite spot. As you move your opponents in and out, like the wings of a butterfly, you’ll create space in the alleys or down the middle that’s easy to attack. This diagram shows you how to execute this strategy off of a wide serve to the deuce court.
Slice a serve out wide and move in to the net. The returner most likely will return the ball crosscourt. You or your poaching partner can punch the ball up the middle and deep. The goal is to get the ball past the net player while making the returner have to recover to his or her left to hit the next shot. Once that happens, your opponents will be bunched up in the middle and you’ll be able to attack them wide in the alleys.
Joey Rive is a former ATP professional and instructor at T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas. He is the co-author of Tennis Skills & Drills, published by Human Kinetics.