Some tips to improve your tennis doubles game

Here’s some information on playing doubles that could help to improve your overall tennis game:

Choosing a partner: If you really want to enjoy playing doubles you must choose a partner who you get along with really well both on and off the court. If you miss some shots and your partner makes a mean gesture or yells at you for missing shots continuously, it is time to get a new partner. Win or lose, you want to play with a partner that you feel comfortable with and supports you at all times.

Switching courts: The rules of the game stress that you should switch sides of the court after every odd game. Surprisingly, some players don’t like to do this as they think it wastes time; especially if it involves paying for court time. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you switch courts you are doing so for three main reasons. They are to: drink a beverage (preferably water to keep hydrated), towel off, or talk about your strategy with your partner before you return to play.

Communicating with your partner: Most tennis players have watched the pros on television or top local teams play doubles. You will notice that the players talk to each other briefly before each and every point. Also, when one player is serving, his partner at the net will signal with his index finger behind his back to the left or right. This indicates to the server where his partner would like him to serve to their opponent’s forehand or backhand. The player at the net will then indicate with his open hand behind his back that he is going to poach (move to the ball) after the service return is hit. If the net player has decided to stay in his net position and not move he will then signal with a closed fist that he is not going to move across the net to return the shot unless he has an absolute setup.

Play most shots to the weaker opponent: Although this may not seem like a nice thing to do, the strategy is especially effective in tournaments or league play. Once you have determined who the weaker player is you should attack that person’s weaknesses as much as possible.

Style of doubles play: Many of the men’s pro doubles teams and top level local doubles teams serve and volley on every point. Some teams will have the server serve and wait until his opponent returns the serve. He will then approach the net to join his partner. Some teams try to mix it up by serving and going to the net or staying back after they serve until they get a shot to join their partner at the net.

A different formation: I have noticed a different approach to the serve-and-volley game. Some doubles teams, especially in the senior division, team up with one player having outstanding ground strokes complemented by his partner’s excellent net game. The ground-stroker attempts to keep the ball deep in his opponent’s court until a shot is hit short or high enough for the net player to put the ball away. Teams who have tried this strategy have told me that they have had great success with this style of play. As the old saying goes, “Try it! You’ll like it.”

Tactics when the ball is in play: A strategy that is very effective but surprisingly isn’t used more is hitting the ball down the middle of your opponent’s court. This often causes doubt as to who should take the shots. If they are both stationed at the net and try to cover the middle this will leave the sides open so that either you or your partner could hit a winner down the lines Lobbing is also especially effective when both opponents are at the net. Be sure to hit the shot high and deep into your opponent’s court. Your partner and you should then approach the net together to take over the net play.

Miller hosting pros

Todd and Debbie Miller are the owners of Miller Tennis Center and co-directors of the USTA Pro Circuit tournaments that will be held there.

The first of two USTA Pro Circuit Tennis tournaments will begin Sunday at the club, 5959 Sheridan Drive, Amherst. The Sargent Collins LP Women’s $10,000 Championships will continue until next Sunday.

Admission is free and “Super Saturday,” June 4, will have the women’s doubles final at noon, followed by the women’s singles semifinals. The women’s singles final will be at noon Sunday.

Players who have played in the tournament before are such notables as Alisa Kleybanova, Lauren Davis and Nicole Gibbs.

Davis and Gibbs are presently playing on the women’s pro tour. This year’s field includes American Jennifer Elie who was formerly ranked in the top 300 players in the world in both singles and doubles. She also has a win over highly regarded Sloan Stephens, who is now No. 19 in the world rankings.

Maureen Duke, a Canadian, has been ranked as high as 47th in the world in singles. Chen Yu Hsu, from Taipei, has won four Pro Circuit singles and nine Pro Circuit doubles titles. She has had world rankings as high as 250 in singles and 141 in doubles.

For further information on the tournament, call the club at 632-8600.


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