Today we tap the professional expertise of Andy Brandi and Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the subject of doubles. Andy Brandi provies these tips:
Not so long ago, it was not popular to play doubles. In the last few years the ITF and the USTA and its sections have combined their rankings and we are now facing the task of having to play doubles. It is interesting watching juniors playing doubles because it is like two players playing singles. As it is, two good singles player do not automatically make a good doubles team.
Here are five suggestions for better doubles play:
Team chemistry might be the most important factor in a good doubles team. If two players get along really well, they have a good chance of being successful. They will be able to communicate better, keep each other relaxed, and trust each other more. Complementing styles are essential. For example, a good aggressive baseliner will do great with a good all-court player. The all-court player can take advantage of the aggressive baseliner’s groundstrokes and returns while he is at net.
Communication needs to happen before, after and during the points. Most successful pro doubles teams communicate religiously. They talk before the point and discuss strategy after the point to encourage each other and make plans for the next point. During the point they help each other by calling for balls, or switching sides to effectively cover the court.
Two Important Firsts
Get first serves in play! Be most effective by serving a high percentage of first serves. Make it easy for the net person to poach and put more pressure on the returner. Good serves take all the pressure off your team. Be sure to mix placement.
Make first volleys; if you are coming in, you need to be smart on how to play your first volleys. Do you hit it deep? Do you go with a short x-ct angle or do you hit it down the line?
Get returns in play; make the other team play. At the same time, look at returns as a means to create some offensive opportunities. Mix up the returns by hitting some down the line or by lobbing.
Be Willing to Poach
Poaching is one of the most difficult things to get players to do, but it makes your team more effective. By poaching, the server will be able to hold more easily because of the distractions the partner is creating at the net. Do not forget you can poach off returns as well. When at net, do not be a statue or a good spectator; get involved in the points! Guard the middle and not the alley.
Although very basic, we hope that these tips help you become a better doubles player. Good luck!
Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.
Friday, April 25, 2008