By Christopher Hagman, President of Atlantic Recreation
In working with people starting in the tennis industry, new coaches and established pros, it is important to know how much they know about doubles tactics and strategies. After all, most recreational team coaching is about doubles! And, players win and have more fun with a coach who truly knows what he or she is talking about. Here are some questions to assess general doubles knowledge. The Doubles IQ is a useful tool for a variety of people connected to tennis, and there are objective answers grounded in sports science.
1. Your team is at the net and your opponents are one up, one back. Your partner has to volley a low ball at his feet. Where should he hit this shot? Same positions different point; if he can attack a high ball, where should he hit it? Volley to the back player. This prevents your team from being attacked by the up player and keeps you in the point. Or, hit a hard volley at the up player’s feet or just behind him. He’s vulnerable — win the point now.
2. When your team moves to the net your deep approach shots result in very good lobs from your opponents. What other approach shot should you try? Most good lobs are hit from the baseline. Approach with a short chip, which brings your opponents off the baseline, reduces distance and increases the difficulty of the lob.
3. You and your partner are right-handed and at the net. Your partner is playing the ad court, volleyed the last ball and remains farther from the net than you. Your opponents return the ball five feet above the court and halfway between you and your partner. Whose ball is it? Why? The ball down the middle is yours because you are closer to the net. Priorities for covering the middle: A. player closest to net; B. whoever hit the ball last; C. stronger side (i.e.: forehand)
4. What is a fundamental strategy in doubles that does not apply to singles? Teamwork!
5. It’s a sunny day and your team wins the toss. How can you make your opponents serve their first service game into the sun? Winning the toss gives you one of three choices: A. serve or return; B. sides; C. defer (make your opponents choose first). If you win the toss, defer and you can make your opponents serve their first service game in the sun or other adverse condition such as into the wind.
6. While the ball is in play, when can your team talk? You can talk when the ball travels toward your court. Your opponents can call a let or hindrance if you talk when the ball travels toward their court.
Hagman is a former AA1 city champion, GPTA doubles champion and USTA player development coach. Learn more about Atlantic Recreation by visiting atlrec.net.