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TIPS TO AVOID DOUBLES TROUBLE

Most players know that a top spin or twist serve is a more effective serve than a hard, flat serve in doubles. They also know that the best service return is a low return to the server who is rushing the net.

However, many players are not aware of where they should stand or move in the following situations:

Where should a player stand when he serves in doubles? When and where should the server stop when she is rushing the net? Where should the server's partner stand and move at the net? What are some receiving strategies that will help your game? When should your partner take a lob that has been hit to you?

Where to stand when serving

The ideal place to serve in doubles is near the middle of the court between the singles sideline and the center court mark. Some players like to vary their position one to two feet or more. By serving from this area you will be able to serve at wide angles and will also be able to volley most service returns that are hit cross court to you.

Approaching net on the serve

After you serve and approach the net you should stop (split step) as soon as you see your opponent start to take his racket back. After he has returned the ball you should step forward and volley his return. However, you must be able to volley from just inside the service line, in the middle of the service box between the net and the service line, and close to the net. Your proximity to the net will be determined by how hard or low your opponent has returned the serve. It is imperative that you practice volleying from all three positions on the court to ensure you will be ready for all types of service returns.

Netman's position and movement

Leading tennis pros stand halfway between the net and the service line when their partners are serving. They have the skills and reflexes to return almost every volley or lob from that position. Of course, most of us do not have those skills. My advice is to move two to three feet toward the net. This will allow you to volley most ground stroke returns. It will also allow you to move back and take most lobs that are hit over your head.

If you are a player who volleys well, but doesn't move particularly well, it would be wise to volley only those shots that you can easily reach or put away. If you move and volley well you should try to poach on almost every shot that you can get your racket on. Even if you don't put every shot away you will greatly distract your opponents, as they will often be watching you and not the ball.

Receiving strategies

The player who is receiving serve should stand in as far as he can (two to three feet inside the baseline) to return the serve before it bounces too high and presents a difficult return. This will also allow the receiver to hit a shot low at the incoming server. If you don't have the skills to do this move back to the baseline or beyond. Try to return the ball as low as you can or hit a good lob.

The receiver's partner may stand right at the net if his partner has excellent service returns. If his partner has average returns he would be wise to stand at the service line on his side of the court to see what type of return his partner has hit. He will then have to decide to approach the net or retreat to the baseline. If the receiver has weak returns, his partner may be wise to stand in the backcourt. This will prevent his being passed repeatedly at the net and will also give him a decent chance to return the ball.

If the receiver is receiving a weak second serve he should move in four to five feet and his partner should be stationed at the net. After you return the serve you should immediately follow your return to the net. If the receiver hits a well-placed low return or an excellent lob, both players should approach the net. They should also do this during rallies if they hit either of these shots.

When your partner should return a lob hit to you

Many players can hit a lob that lands at or near their service line. After that, things start to get difficult, if a deep lob is hit to you when you are at the net and your partner is in the back court you should yell "switch!" and let him return it with a ground stroke or lob.

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