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3 Best Doubles Tactics in Tennis

Let tennis pros Joe Perez and Kirk Moritz teach you the three best doubles tactics in this Howcast video.


Kirk Moritz: So there are different styles of play that typically happen in doubles these days. There's one style of play where the server hits the serve and immediately comes to the net while his partner is at the net. There's another style where the server hits the serve and stays back. Finally, there's a style where the server is hitting a strong serve. The players are having trouble returning, and both players opt to stay back as the serve is hit.

The first one we'll talk about is serving and running to the net. Remember, when you're serving and you're playing doubles, you're not going to run to the middle of the court. You're going to be in the middle of your half of the court. You're going to come in. You're going to stop as your opponent is making the return. That's our split step. The person returning serve should not necessarily think about hitting the return deep now, because the player's at the net. The best return often for that player is a low ball. Make that volleyer bend his knees and pop that volley up. If he can do that, his partner who's up at the net will be able to pick some volleys off right away. So that's the number one tactic versus serving and volleying.

Joe Perez: Serving and staying back is another method, where you might want to serve and not come to the net, because the returns are at your feet all the time, and you're constantly trying to have to hit low volleys. So, you serve and stay back and wait for the return to be short. Come in, hit an approach shot off that short return, and now you're at the net. Remember, in all these doubles tactics and strategies, the important thing to remember is that generally being at the net is a good idea. Doubles is sort of what I call "king of the net." If you get to the net first, you're going to win. Serve and stay back, though, is a way to wait for that short return to happen, return it, come in and join your partner at the net.

Now, the last one is what we call double-back. It's when the server has such a powerful serve, and the net man, his partner at the net, the net man has such a great volley, that they're constantly hitting shots that you can't control and hit back. So you can elect to have both players, the returner and his partner, stay back at the baseline and play defensive doubles. Often that can be effective, especially if both players have good lobs.

Kirk: You take away that volleyer's target if that net player moves back to the back of the court. Going back to the second example that Joe gave you, where the player served and stayed back, it sounds nice, if you can come in on the second ball, if that player hasn't already taken the return and come right to the net. So when I see a player serving and staying back, I'm going to take the gamble of returning it, hopefully away from the net player, back to that server back there. And I'll come scooting into the net. Now we are two up at the net. This poor guy better back up, because he's in harm's way now.

Joe: You know, I guess what we're also talking about is that doubles and singles is like a chess match. There's a certain tactic, and there's a certain response to that tactic. So you've got to be ready to respond in kind.

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