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Conquering the Doubles Court – Doubles Serving Strategies

The doubles game is all about controlling the court.  Controlling the court always starts with the serve.  Here we go with installment number three on serving.

We have two types of Doubles games as with Singles…we have the 2-serve game and we have the 1 serve game.  If we stick with our game plan of going for the Ace on the first serve (during a 2 serve game) then the second serve and the 1 serve game basically break down to be the same strategies.

In doubles, Ace serving is much tougher than in singles.  The angles have changed dramatically.  It’s obvious that the receiver can cover ½ of the court much easier so it’s rare (not impossible) that you will be able to consistently get a two bounce ace serve by him at any angle.  For this reason, I make use of the crack ace. 

I usually play the backhand side (assuming right handed players).  I line my feet up about a foot from the 3-foot screen line on my side.  I’m a foot away so my butt or my racquet won’t cross that screen line during any part of my service motion.  I step straight forward (with the two step method) and drive the ball trying to hit about 2 inches high on the side wall and 2 inches before the short line...this will make the ball kick off the side wall and bounce twice almost before the safety line.  Once again, I’m the one throwing darts for an ace.  My opponent can’t do anything.  If I miss, it’s a tad short and we move onto 2nd serve.

Now don’t get me wrong…before we move to second serve there are a bunch of other 1st serves that are non-Ace serves that produce a very weak return.  These serves are risky to use as a second serve and sometimes you may just want to go with these as a first serve.  This group consists of, but is not limited to, jams serves, hard z-serves and even great lob serves.

Once I get to a second serve (or a 1 serve game) situation in doubles my objectives change.  I want to limit the receivers return options.  The way I look at the situation is this:  The receiver has three basic return shots.  (down the line, pinch, and cross court pass)  If my partner and I can only cover two of the three returns, my serve must eliminate that 3rd option. 

I like to call these types of serve situations “trap” plays.  I like to use a high lob nick or a solid hard Z-serve.  Both these serves (after hitting the side wall) travel toward and along the back wall.  This forces the receiving player to essentially move backwards to track the ball and this movement makes it almost impossible to hit cross court at my partner.  I give enough room for the down the line and my partner covers the pinch…the receiver is trapped….if he doesn’t hit a perfect shot we have them.

Your doubles partner can mirror your serves on the other side.

I get so many questions on this next situation I thought I would weigh in here.  While the rules do allow you to serve to either player at any time, I would like to make a couple suggestion to avoid, well, avoidables and half the number of people getting hit by the ball.  If you want to serve to the side your partner is standing on…hit a lob he can sneak under.  If you want to driver serve to that side…move your partner over to the other side.  If you hit a drive serve to your partner’s side and he gets crushed by a down the line shot because he didn’t even think you were hitting to his side….it’s your fault.  If he’s not fast enough to clear for a cross court return it’s both your faults and not the receiver’s fault at all…he is entitle to that shot.  You can not use your partner as a pylon to force the receiver to shoot around him.

There are many more doubles serve scenarios…but I can’t give you everything all at once especially on a suplemental tip article.  Go out there and “trap” the other team for a while with these tips and see how easy that is..we’ll explore more doubles scenarios later.

Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com

You can forward any rules questions to me at Pat@Racquetworld.com