At Club Tennis tournaments, you not only need good players to win, but you need good teams, specifically in doubles, since those make up 3 out of the 5 matches. Tennis is also not all about pure ability and natural talent. There are many strategies and tactics you can implement to drastically improve your game.
In this post, we will focus on doubles. Much more often than in singles, a doubles team that is worse ability-wise can often pull off upsets against better players. This is because ball placement, strategy, and teamwork are extremely important to succeed in doubles. The two most important shots in doubles are serves and returns. Yes, this means volleys aren’t the most important shots. A good server can set up their partner at the net for a put-away, and a good returner can neutralize the advantage the serving side has.
Let’s talk about serving. Before the serve, either by coming together and talking or with hand signals, you and your partner should have a plan for where the serve it going, and what the net player is going to do. There are three choices for the location of serve: down the T, body, or out wide. The effectiveness of each serve depends on your opponent; if they are a right hander with a weak backhand, go down the T on the deuce side and out wide on the Ad side, changing it up occasionally. Serving in doubles is all about setting up your opponents in a bad situation. You don’t have to have a powerful serve, you just need to be smart with it.
For the net player, it is all about whether or not to poach. Poaching is when the net player moves over into the middle of the court, cutting off a ball going cross court. This, of course, leaves the down the line shot open, but it can end the point immediately if done correctly. Poaching is especially effective with a good server because your opponents’ returns will most likely be weak down the middle, so you can win the point immediately.
This synergy between the server and net player is extremely important in doubles. If you plan well before every point, you will stand a great chance at holding serve and put the pressure right back on your opponent. Remember, a smart team can always beat a skilled team.