Server and Receiver Basics.
The positions of the server
and the receiver have to be played well for a doubles team to be able to win points. It is critical that the server has a
good solid and reliable first serve and an equally good second serve.
The receiver must equally have a good cross court return.
The Server’s Jobs.
The first priority is to
make the first serve as providing the percentage is high, it puts the opponent receiver on the defensive.
The second priority is to be able to place the ball where you want it to go, the
task is to serve to the middle of the court on the deuce side and to the opponents body on the Ad. side. By this means you
will be making the returners’ job more difficult and set up the second shot for you or your partner to put away. Serves
that go wide give the opponent a wider angle to open up the court. That been said, it is a good idea to mix up the serve pattern
to keep your opponents guessing.
The next priority is to put the first volley down the middle. The angled volley
should only be used for a winning hit. The server should endeavour to close in to the net as quickly as possible and should
take responsibility for the first volley. The servers partner is responsible for the cutoff and can be aggressive on a floating
ball, but it must be a winner.
We will look at advanced doubles tactics later.
The Receiver’s Job.
The first priority is to
ensure that you do not hit wide and do not hit the ball into the net. The receiver
should eliminate the possibility of a poach and hit the ball back across court, it is easier to hit the ball back from where
it came, don’t try to do too much.
If the serve is a weak shot, hit the ball back deep and move into the net.
If you can take the advantage of the net away from the serving team, you are in
with a better chance of breaking the serve. At the same time the receiver’s partner should also move in.
The next option is to return the ball low and to the server’s feet, in all
probability the server will have no option but to put the ball up in to the air, and this will allow the returner’s
partner to cross and poach the ball.
The last alternative is for both receiver and returner to stay back and to try
to take over the net on the first weak ball. In this way the pressure is taken
off the returner having to make a good return every time and will eliminate the serving team putting the first volley away.
It should however, be remembered that the strongest position in doubles is both
players at the net, the second strongest is both players back and the worst scenario is one up and one back. Top doubles is
won at the net.
The server’s Partners Job.
The server’s partner,
together with the server should decide where the ball is placed, in many pairings, the partner indicates where the serve should
go by the use of a signal. This enables the partner to make a winning poach as they will have a good isea where the return
is likely to be.
I always teach my players to stand about a foot inside the service line when they
are the server’s partner. They listen to the strike of the ball by the server and start to move forward, doing a split
step as the returner takes their racquet back. This enables them to react quickly and their body is already in motion.
An important point to holding the serve is for the net man to be able to move
quickly on any floating ball. We have already said that the server’s responsibility is to take the first volley and
this allows the partner greater freedom to take the floating ball.
In the next lesson we will look at both vertical and lateral movement as it relates
to all four players.
The Receiver’s Partner’s Job.
The job of the receiver’s
partner can make all the difference in breaking the opponent’s serve and is an essential part of a good doubles team.
The partner should start on the service line in what we call ‘The Hotspot’
see the court diagram.
This enables the
A/. Help make the
B/. Place them out
of the way of the serve.
C/. Give them the opportunity
to react quickly to any
shot the opposing net player makes.
The receive’s partner should be facing the opposing net player as this will
alert them to where their partner is returning the ball. If the opposing net player does not move then they will know the
ball has been returned deep to the server. This gives fractions of a second advantage in reaction time.
As the ball is returned past the net player, they should move in to close off
the net, this puts pressure on the server and their first volley.
There a couple of rules to assist the play in doubles:
1., Deep to
Deep, Close to close.
In other words if you are at the back of the court,
you should return the ball to the opponent at the
back (if you return to the
net player, they have
simple put-away volley.
Likewise, if you receive a ball close to the net then
the ball should be returned towards the opposing
net player (obviously, trying to win the point).
to Outside – Inside to Inside.
at the net and taking up a volley/volley
situation, if the ball comes to your outside, you
should put it to the opponent’s
outside, and similarly
inside to opponents inside.
if the volley is a simple one, then you
should put it away.
In relation to the above guides, a player should equally be aware of their own
positioning to cover the possibilities of the above shots, and to back up their partner in the best way possible.
I will also cover, in the next article, where each player should be at any given
That’s all for this month.