How do you play mixed doubles? Is it OK to go at the woman every time? Is it better to mix it up? Just what is the etiquette when playing against a man and a woman? In this episode of Tennis Quick Tips, I'll discuss mixed doubles and just how to properly play it so you can win without coming off as a sexist jerk. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
SHOW NOTES AND EDITED TRANSCRIPTS:
This week we're talking about doubles, specifically we're talking about mixed doubles. I myself have not played a lot of mixed doubles, I've done it for fun. But, in this episode, I'm interviewing someone who not only plays mixed doubles, he plays it in tournaments and at upper levels in tournaments. I'm talking to Brian Montez, who is my tennis pro, has been teaching for a long time, and really has a lot of great tips and lessons to pass on to all of us. I last interviewed Brian in episode eighty seven, where he gave some really good serve tips. So if you want to go back and hear a little bit about his background, or you just want to get some good tips on tuning up your serve, go check out Tennis Quick Tips Episode 87, all included in the show notes for this episode.
But in this particular episode, I'm talking to Brian about mixed doubles. I got a question from a Tennis Fixation follower, asking me about mixed doubles, and I kind of knew what I would say in answer to the question, but I really wanted to talk to someone who actually plays mixed doubles regularly, so I went to Brian. So listen in to my interview with Brian Montez, talking about mixed doubles.
The Mixed Doubles Interview
Kim: I'm talking to Brian Montez today, Brian has been on the Tennis Quick Tips podcast before, he’s a tennis pro that I take lessons with, he’s been teaching for, how many years do you say you’ve been teaching?
Kim: Seventeen, so he’s been at it a long time. Anyways, I wanted to talk to Brian today about a topic that, honestly, I don't do this type of tennis, and so I don't have a really good opinion, and can't back anything up, that I would say, with real experience. But I know Brian does play this kind of tennis, and so I wanted to ask him. So Brian, I got a comment from a blog reader recently, and this is what he said: “Kim, I love reading your blog entries. I just took up competitive tennis in the fall, taking a park and rec class with a fantastic coach, and playing in a men’s doubles league. Now I’ve joined the USTA men’s team, and then got recruited to join a mixed doubles team as well. I've joined the team and will soon start playing with them. Having never played mixed doubles before, I'm curious if there's any etiquette involved. I heard some other guys talking at our men's match last weekend, saying typically guys should hit more to the other guy, while someone else said that the women want you to hit hard to them too. Is there any “gentlemanly conduct” expected or is it all out competition? I'm a 3.5 and playing on a 7.0 team. Thanks.”
And that is a comment from Eric. So, his question is: “What are the rules of etiquette”, I think that's what he’s saying, “when you're playing mixed doubles?” I know what I think they are, and I'm wondering what you would say, because you’re a guy, and you actually do play mixed doubles.
Brian: I did. Well, it's kind of a gray area depending on level. Of course you're never trying to go at someone, or injure someone, whether it's the guy or the girl. I think at the lower levels it’s harder to play around the players, because at the lower levels you don't have as much control. But, of course, you want to win, it's competition. Why am I going to hit it back to the guy that’s killing me? I'm going to play in the female's direction. I'm not playing at her. So you have to really learn how to play around the player and not at a player in mixed doubles, and doubles in general.
Kim: Right, so it’s basically like when you’re playing men’s doubles, or women’s doubles, you’re hitting to the weaker player. If you see someone…
Brian: Correct, and sometimes the lady is not the weaker player, sometimes the man’s the weaker player, so there's really no favoritism here. What you're doing it depends on who the weaker player is. But at the same time you want to play low to their feet and not up in their chest or head area. You know, just try to play around them a little more, a little smarter, you know. You're not necessarily taking full swings at balls that you and your opponent are three feet apart, you know, that type of thing.
Kim: And I can tell you, I haven’t played league tennis mixed doubles, I haven’t played on a league team, but I’ve played just for fun. I can tell you, from a woman’s perspective, I assume you’re going to be going at me. I mean you’re saying: ‘Yes, be nice, and…”
Brian: That's typically what happens. Most guys that are competitive and want to win, and you're playing in a league or a tournament, you're not there to lose, you're going to play to the weaker player. And if it happens to be the female you're going to go in that direction. But like I said, you know, you just have to learn how to not strike them or actually physically go for them on every single ball. I mean it happens, people get hit, guys get hit, you know, it’s just the way it is.
Kim: And I’m sure at this level he’s talking about being a 3.5, playing in 7.0, it’s going to happen, because those players they’re good, but they’re…
Brian: If you’re a 3.5 level, obviously control is a major factor at that level, so things are going to happen more often. Now, there's also… you can't put it all on the person that’s attacking the player. The player needs to understand… well my partner's either setting me up or, you know, that player’s just so good they're getting everything. I need to readjust my position and not get set up here, or I'm getting pounded. So there's… you got to look at it both ways, you know. There's no one really at fault here.
Kim: OK, so the answer is, the etiquette is pretty much what you'd expect in any doubles match with, I would say, the expectation that at least initially, until proven otherwise, the guys are going to assume the woman is the weaker player.
Brian: That's correct.
Kim: OK. Well, great insights as usual. Thank you so much Brian, I appreciate it.
Brian: You’re welcome.
The Best Mixed Doubles Strategy And Etiquette
So that's my interview with Brian about mixed doubles, and probably, as you would expect, the answer to the question about mixed doubles etiquette is, to play mixed doubles just like you play regular doubles, whether you're playing men's or women's doubles. You're trying to figure out who's the weaker player, and that's the player that you're going to play to until your opponents figure out a way to address that particular strategy of yours.
Let me know what you thought about that interview, let me know about your own mixed doubles experiences. I'd love to hear about them. You can do that by leaving a comment below. And by the way, hard to believe, we've made it to 95 episodes. I just want to let you know in advance, I've got big things planned for episode number one hundred, so keep checking back each week until we hit that one hundred mark, because that's a really big deal for me, and I think you'll enjoy the plans I have. Haven't got it all organized yet, but it's going to be good.
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE:
Listen in on this episode with Brian Montez for more information about him: Tennis Quick Tips Episode 87 – Common Serve Mistakes And How To Correct Them.
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