Sharing my notes from Doubles Clinic put on by Tom Gullikson former touring professional and Davis Cup Coach.
The composition of a doubles team : One very consistent player on the deuce court, ad court player more fire-power more variety of shots. Also – two great servers. At least one really strong server – where you know you are going to hold serve every time. Personalities : one person is team captain, the other is more calm- this makes a really good mix for a doubles team.
Server : Looking to serve inside from the center on the deuce side- when serving to a right hander- it goes to back hand more often setting up partner. Going 80-90 % power with slice – usually gives you more travel time to get into net and join partner. Square up and split before the opponent hits the ball- if that means behind the service line – OK – you still have a chance to get a lob over your partners head at the net.
Net: Player needs to stay back from net- middle of box- leaving for split and angle poach. Lead with the racket –so everything stays out in front.
Space management : Net players always want to win two points being aggressive within the space that you can cover as the net player. Make it a goal to help your serving partner out with finishing two points from the net. Takes pressure off the server. Use the net strap as a guide. If it’s on your side of the net strap- it’s your ball. Crossing the mid-line – is commitment to switch. If you cross – auto switch. To get into opponents servers head – you need to stay active at the net. Will bother them as the point developes.
Returning Serve : Mentality is defend the box in front of you – outside foot – adjacent to net post. - "No Roses for opponent on return" You don’t need to hit a winner on the return but you don't want to send them flowers either. Return down the line EARLY in the match. Establish early- so you get in their heads right away. Another – is CHIP AND CHARGE - Another : Chip lob over the net player – good variety of returns. Let’s make em’ play mentality.
Returners partner : Need to stand in close to the T. low in box. Good return made – you go on offense. Not so good return – you’re back and ready to defend. If opponent has a huge first serve - - maybe go two back to take some pressure off returns.
Serving team : Tennis is a holding game ! If you hold serve – worse case you’ll get to a tie breaker.
Signal – tennis. ?? Maybe have servers control – by just talking in-between points rather than have the net player dictate the point. The server knows where they are going to go with serve. Talking also gives chance to encourage each other ... Quarterback philosophy – server sees the whole field of play.
Doubles – always look for gaps. - Early on-on match – keep most 2nd shot balls down the middle. -Then when you get to a 30-40 point – go down the line. Get the opponent used to thinking one way and then surprise- and do something different.
When facing an "I" formation – go right at the guy who’s playing the jack in the box position. He’s got to go somewhere – so go at him or her.
Person up is always moving – following the ball- play navel tennis – get navel right in front of where the balls is going to go. Up person can not play spectator tennis-
Two up vs. Two back. Volley against two back – go down the middle. First ball has to be a groundstroke
Reflex Volleys : When all 4 players get to the net. Shorten up the racket work – the ball is coming faster- Racket grip needs to be loose – keeps arms relaxed – firmness really only needs to happen at contact point.
Waste down – tension – waste up needs to stay loose and relaxed.
SERVE AND VOLLEY Serve and expode on first three steps – keep hand in front of you – and split step
One on one doubles : Two players – must serve and volley on 1st and 2nd serves- 4 players on court but only server and returner play. Alternating servers – and returners – no net players – all 4 are back and rotating who serves for each team.
One up and one back both sides – Encourage poaching – singles court only going cross court. - coach feeds. - Doubles court can be used after a made poach. Two points for volley winners 1 point for all other winners.
End of session comments :
Myth - - strength in the middle - ? Doubles is a angular game – ok to put a lefty on the ad side. Rather than two forehands in the middle.
Communication can happen to cover 1st and 2nd serve. - in – between points – if playing no signal tennis.