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Double’s Serves –
The other side of Paradise
Many of you reminded me that there are two players on a doubles team and I only outlined serve options/strategies for the left side/backhand player. I agree. So in this additional add on article we’ll run through the thoughts and serves on the forehand side. I realize all you left handed players are out there calling me names for always describing the court in terms of right handed players…but get over it.
Obviously if it’s a 2 serve game…I go for the crack ace on this side of the court just like the backhand side. The crack ace on the forehand side is much easier to master than the backhand side. The distances are shorter, the angle is less and you’re not coming across your entire body with your serve. Remember the mantra…Ace or short…
Now, what do you do after that short serve? I have a couple thoughts for you. First and foremost, protect your opposite side doubles partner. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can use soft, slower serves so he has time to get out of the box and get into position. You can use Z serves (hard or lob) to create difficult shooting angles or any other serve that the receiver is not cutting off and driving. The quickest and easiest return for a player on the forehand side is to simply step up and rocket the ball at your partner coming out of the box unprepared on a second serve, you must protect him from this.
Many players have moved to what we call the “wallpaper” serve. With a little practice this can be a very effective serve. The ball is kept extremely close to the sidewall for it’s entire flight. It’s a good idea to vary the pace and height of this serve to keep the receiver guessing. One last note, this serve usually requires the server to cross into the screen serve zone (within 3 feet of the side wall). It’s legal to hit a lob serve from that zone…however you can’t hit anything resembling a drive serve from this location. I generally tell players as long as the ball hits the front wall above the server’s head level you should be clear of any potential screen zone violation.
You’re going to have two types of receivers on this forehand side. Those that cut off the ball and those that don’t. The guys that don’t cut off any serves are easy in the sense that your partner has time to get out of the box and setup. Throw good lobs (nick lob) at them or varying Z serves so that you can stop them from hitting crosscourt. Then just like the backhand side mirrored…your partner covers the pinch…you cover the line and you got a good trap.
Next you’ll face players that cut off some balls but not all. It may take you the entire first game to find a second serve he’s uncomfortable with. Keep looking. Lob higher and slower. Make the ball bounce inside the dotted safety line. This will allow your doubles partner a little extra time to get out of the box and get setup. Use that deep lob nick for added time and a good angle. This serve is a little more difficult on the forehand side because your angle is naturally less. If you need to move across the court and stand closer to your doubles partner for a better angle…do it. As the ball is high in the air, you’ll have time to cut across the court and get into position.
The last type of player is the hyper-cutter-offer. He will cut off everything and drive the ball somewhere each time. This player is usually overly aggressive and they often commit too early. Vary the speed and angle. Hit more Z’s than straight balls. Hit “garbage” serves that float at chest level. These players are extremely happy to attack a ball that bounces anywhere around the dotted line. They will shoot this ball. When you encounter this type of player…don’t let the ball bounce anywhere near the dotted line. Wallpaper serves help me sell more racquets with this type of player…just a footnote I couldn’t resist. Don’t be afraid to drive jam this player off the sidewall when he gets comfortable with your lob serves. Surprise is a good thing against these guys. Change serves often so they get into a solid cutoff rhythm.
Many times against these overly aggressive forehand serve returners you can find a certain serve where they will think their forehand is better than it really is. Exploit this ego flaw all day. Remember just because they hit 1 awesome shot in 5 doesn’t mean you should change serves. Sometimes winning doesn’t look as spectacular as losing.
A last footnote for both serving sides…do not allow any of your serves (lob or otherwise) to come off the back wall for a setup. Once a ball comes off the back wall you’ve opened up every shooting lane for the receiver and left your partner exposed.
Every point starts with a serve…don’t waste your opportunities!
Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com
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