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Deciphering A Doubles Team
By the New Old Guy
I may have mentioned this once before but when I was much younger I got beat by an “old” guy…not because he was better…but because he was smarter. I found a button and attached it to all my various racquetball bags since. It was a little black button that simply read “Old age and treachery will outsmart youth and vigor”. It was a constant reminder to myself to “think” and not rely on pure athletics to win…I kept that on my bags for about 15 years…
Well, this past weekend I officially became that old guy. This wasn’t by any means a world title match, although I was playing against a world ranked team. (yes, this was doubles) The younger team came in all smiles and barely warmed up and was ready to rip. The speed, the crispness, the unyielding push for 100% offense was overwhelming…and that is the definition of fearless youth racquetball. By the time I realized I no longer possessed such a pure version of those characteristics anymore, we were already down one game.
Believe it or not, that little black button came to mind and during my two minutes of sweat dripping calm, I began to think…
This “team” was more like two individuals playing singles…great singles…but singles none-the-less. Since neither of them knew what the other was going to do, they each would press themselves to the sidewalls to get out of the way of their partner’s shot. This left the middle wide open.
These guys weren’t taking advantage of a two serve game…when they realized they could over power us during a rally they wanted to simple get to the rally. We pressed on the serve return and went at the non-serving opponent as he was coming out of the service box. This had two results…they could no longer get us into a rally easily and they would look at each other with blame in their eyes...one for the weak serve and the other shot back a glance for not being able to get a clean racquet on the return of serve.
We also realized that we couldn’t trade punches with these guys upfront…so we started to push them back with well measured ceiling balls and make them shoot from the back court whenever possible as opposed to letting their quicker reflexes dominate us in the front court.
These quick, lanky, guys could get to everything (except up the middle)…Instead of our normal pass shots, we decided to come off the side walls right into their bodies…adding angle as an element instead of trying to drive pass shots by their length and quickness. Bringing arms in close tend to be more difficult for lanky built players.
I also broke my normal, silent, concentrating, court character and started to talk to these guys during the ten seconds in between points. I made them make eye contact with me and take their eye off the ball…these guys were intense on that ball.
Lastly, when we were serving…with two serves, we went for a perfect ace serve or perfect short serve. This eventually put these guys to sleep on our first serve attempts and led to some energy saving quick points.
It’s now Tuesday…this match was Sunday. Burned into my back is the memory of that one stupid dive. Each morning since, I cringe and slowly get out of bed. I had hoped that youthful vigor along with their magical recuperation powers had rubbed off on me…but I’m not that lucky…or more apparently, I’m not in that good of shape.
I’m glad to report the new old man and partner took the match in three….saving $100 that started off as a one way joke bet and grew more serious each minute of the match. This match garnered some respect from the next generation…although I’m glad they didn’t see me get out of bed this week…this new or reestablished respect (they try each year) enables them to actually listen to the ramblings of a treacherous old player and hopefully allows them to come away with a tad more experience.
Good luck at the Junior Nationals to two great kids in the 16 and under age division. I hear the snickers…these two are 6 feet and 5feet 11 inches respectively and hit in excess of 160 mph…they are not kids on the court by any means…they are true players…my $100 is on them in AZ this month.
I hope some of the strategies discussed above show you that you can out think a team that is physically superior in a doubles match. The most important characteristic in doubles is being a team first and not just two individual players.
Think out there people!
Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com
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