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Got Doubles Skills? (Part 4)

Post 22 of 40

Today we’ll finish up our Got Doubles Skills? series.  In Part 1 we looked at The Server’s Jobs, in Part 2 we looked at The Server’s Partner’s Jobs, and in Part 3 we looked at The Receiver’s Jobs.  Finally, today, in Part 4, we’ll look at The Receiver’s Partner’s Jobs.

Often, the receiver’s partner is overlooked in doubles.  But, if this position is played well, it can be the game breaker and the difference between a good or a great doubles team.  The receiver’s partner has specific jobs in helping to break your opponents serve.

Job One:  Start at the Service Line and Square Off Facing the Server’s Partner

If the receiver’s partner is at the service line, it will:

  1. Allow them to help make the service line call.
  2. Put them in a position out of the way of the return of serve.
  3. Most importantly, give them an opportunity to react to a poach that the net man may make.

The primary reason for squaring off toward the net man is that they have the first play on the ball after the return.  Therefore, the receiver’s partner’s attention should be focused on this position, allowing the best opportunity to negate a poach through the middle of the court.  Once the ball has been returned past the net man, the receiver’s partner should then take care of their next job.

Job Two:  Take Three Steps to Close Off the Net

After the ball is returned past the net man, the receiver’s partner should immediately take three steps straight in to close off the net.  This will put pressure on the server’s first volley and allows the receiving team to take advantage of a good return of service.  Staying at the service line rather than moving in does nothing except put the receiving team in a crippled situation.

Job Three:  Inside-Inside or Outside-Outside Coverage

Once the receiver’s partner has closed off the position on the net his other attentions should be directed to the server’s first volley.  If the ball is returned low and to the inside of the court, the receiver’s partner should move to the inside lane to cut off the first volley.  This puts tremendous pressure on the server’s first volley.  The server can try to hook a backhand volley from the inside to the outside behind the poaching receiver’s partner.  This will force the server to change the direction of his first volley that will very often lead to the serving team’s errors at critical times in the match.  If the receiver’s return goes to the outside or the server’s forehand, the outside or line must always be covered.

Job Four:  Play Both Back for a Change or a Different Look

As was explained in Part 3, The Receiver’s Jobs, it is often a good tactic to play both back for a different look to the servers.  This should be done at strategic times according to the type of pressure the serving team needs to have put on them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on doubles play.  But most of all, I hope the information provided will help you become a better doubles player and improve your enjoyment of the great game of doubles.

I’d like to thank Coach Chuck Kriese again for his book Coaching Tennis.  This book truly has some great coaching advice and it will surely improve your game—I highly recommend it!

See you on the courts!


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