When I play tennis, I don't want to think. I just want to hit and have fun. I don't think I'm alone here. But, Surprise! I've found that if I don't think, I don't have as much fun because I usually don't win that way. And losing is definitely not as fun as winning.
In doubles, strategy and court positioning can be WAY more important than the ability to hit a good shot. And strategy and court positioning require THINKING. But wouldn't it be great if you knew some winning strategies that didn't require much thinking at all? Guess what? I know a few! These are strategies to apply in any match you play at any point in the match. In fact, you should use these in EVERY match you play. And once you learn them, you can apply them without hardly thinking at all!
1. Pick on the weaker player. You and your partner should be figuring this out right from the get-go, during the warm-up. In every doubles team, there is almost always a weak link and that is who you need to be hitting to. And I don't care if that person is hurt, pregnant or in her 80s. I have played all of those ladies and, if they get on the court, they should be prepared to play.
2. Get up to the net – both of you! You've heard it over and over – the team that controls the net, controls the match. So you and your partner must always be working towards taking over the net. It may happen right away, on your serve or return, or it may take a few balls for you both to get up there. But as long as even one of you is playing back, you're playing defensively and that is not a winning strategy.
3. Go down the middle. I love to hit angle shots. When they work, they're so pretty. But when they don't work, they're downright ugly. Hitting up the middle is the safest shot for you to hit and it is often the most confusing shot for your opponents to get to. Just who is responsible for that ball up the middle? You can win a lot of points while they try to figure that one out.
4. Hit at their feet. Ladies do not like to squat down and take the low ball. They will either bend from the waist and mis-hit, reach down with their racket while remaining upright and mis-hit, or just not try at all and outright give you the point. And when they don't even try, they'll usually tell you that you've hit a “good shot” which you may or may not have done. Exploit laziness and bad knees! Hit low!
5. Lob over their heads. Maybe the other team has taken over the net and keeps taking over the net. Just lob them. And, don't worry about hitting a great lob. Just hit it deep, over their heads, and make them run. Move it around and try to mix in some short balls. Lots of ladies can run down lobs. But most ladies can't run down lobs all day. And even ladies who move well can get exasperated with this kind of stuff and start making errors.
6. Hit short dinky shots. Personally, I hate those kind of shots. I'd much rather have a ball hit hard at me with some pace. I do not like to play matches where there's a lot of “puffballs” being put into play. And a lot of people I talk to feel the same way. (“This is not real tennis!”) So take advantage of our impatience and hit “easy” shots. It does not require much skill on your part to let someone like me whale on these shots and, invariably, hit them out.
© Kim Selzman 2009
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