By Amy Pazahanick
What is the “best” way to play doubles? What is the “best” strategy? Every tennis player thinks it’s some combination of set up; maybe it’s one player at the baseline and one player at the net, or both players at the net, or both players at the baseline.
The simple answer? There is a different solution for every problem — with the “problem” in this case being your opponents. The solution is having a keen ability to recognize their patterns, your patterns, and what is happening in the match. Awareness will give you the answer every time! Knowing what is actually happening on the court is the first step in securing your team’s win.
It is mystifying to me how the vast majority of players in matches are clueless about the reality of what is actually happening. Have you ever played a match and had no idea or felt like you had no idea what happened and how? Like somehow you had amnesia for the past hour and a half as you were blown off the court? Do you say things like we were lobbed on “every ball” or we got passed down the line “every time” we tried to poach? You must make a mental note of how you won or lost each point. If you do this after each point, you will rapidly see there is a very obvious pattern of play.
Once you know your opponents pattern of play, you can quickly come up with a winning strategy. At a minimum, you will at least know what is coming and will be much better able to handle it. If both opposing players are really in tune, it will be a cat-and-mouse battle because as you learn their patterns, they will adjust. and you will have to learn a new pattern — keep in mind, this could happen multiple times in one match. However, almost every player I have seen at the recreational level will not change their patterns, whether or not you figure them out! Crazy, I know!
You also need to be aware of your own tendencies. A good team will know to adjust to your patterns, too. But if you can quickly identify your opponent’s patterns through awareness, and also have an awareness and ability to switch up your own patterns so your opponents do not know how to best adjust, then you have a winning combination. Even if you lose, you will know exactly what happened and why. Then, you can work on the skills needed to execute your strategies. Remember, if you know what to do but cannot, it is never a matter of strategy but always a matter of execution. This means you need to work on your strokes and technique.
You will be in total control of your tennis destiny if you begin to use awareness as one of your primary tools of offense! Tennis is not just a contest of who is physically more dominant, but also a contest to see who has the best thinking.
I’d love to hear your questions and comments. I am also available to help you with the mental side of your game.
Amy Pazahanick is the owner and founder of Agape Tennis Academy at DeKalb Tennis Center, which offers an extensive variety of programs for all ages and abilities, including private and group classes seven days a week. The academy offers services for everyone from advanced tournament players to beginner level players. Learn more at agapetennisacademy.com or by reaching out to Pazahanick at firstname.lastname@example.org.