A. Observe the line dividing the court down the middle, cover the shots that land on your side, and leave the balls landing on the other side for your partner; or
B. Go for every shot you think you can get to, no matter where it lands, constantly communicating with your partner about where you're going and what you're doing?
Well, obviously I think the right answer is B. And I think YOU should think the right answer is B too.
Why? Let's look at just one example. In doubles, you already know that the high percentage, easiest shot is usually the shot right down the middle. When you're aiming there, you have a lot of court you can hit, unlike the angle shot out towards the alleys where you better be pretty darn accurate. Also, you know that when you hit the down-the-middle shot, there is at least some likelihood that your opponents will have communication issues, meaning that shot will often pass right between them as they stare at each other in confusion.
If you put yourself in the position of the opponents in this example, it is clear that you not only have to communicate with your partner, you have to take the initiative to go for those down-the-middle shots. If you hesitate, trying to figure out “Is that mine or her's?” you'll lose the point. Sure, you may hit your partner's racquet. Heck, you might even occasionally hit your partner. And while I'm not advocating hitting your partner on a regular basis, you can't let those shots go by. So you have to call them (“Mine!”) and go for them and not worry a whole lot about whether your partner is also going for them.
Having said that, if you find yourself with a partner who believes the tennis court is divided down the middle and balls that land on her side belong to her and balls that land on your side are yours and yours alone, no matter where you are positioned on the court . . . well, you may have problems.
So, communicate with your partner both before and throughout the match that you are going for everthing you can get to, whether its on “your side” or not, and you pretty much expect the same out of her. That conversation can very pleasantly go something like this: “Hey, I'm going to be aggressive today and go for everything I think I can get to. I'll keep an eye on you and be sure that I know what you're going for too. So don't worry about getting in my way. I'll watch you. Just go for everything you think you can get.”
If your partner seems committed to the idea that she has a side and you have a side and never the twain shall meet, it may be time to get a new partner.
© Kim Selzman 2010
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