Winning Tennis Doubles Strategies
With twice as many players on the court, doubles is more complex than singles. You and your partner have to get past two opponents, not just one, so it’s a bit more of a finesse game.
However, according to Anish Manrai, CA Assistant Director of Sport and Fitness, this also means there’s more opportunity for net domination! Just like in singles, strategy is your most potent tool in winning doubles matches. The added layer is working together with your partner to carry out the execution, which requires some extra effort that always pays off on the court.
Okay, time to get to the good stuff! Manrai and CA tennis coach and USPTA Certified Professional, Jonathan Vissering, teamed up to share their best tennis doubles tactics below.
Manrai’s top tips
- If your opponent/s stays back on the baseline, move in to volley and capture the net
- When you are close to the net, volley short angles.
- When you are at the net and the ball is on your opponent’s side, “move in” to distract and be ready to attack.
- When the ball is behind you to your partner, “move back” 23 feet to defend your half of the court, facing the opponent diagonally across the net.
- Move through the volley after you have determined the direction of the ball to attack the ball.
- Volley in the direction of the player closest to you on a “poach.”
- When a lob goes over your head, cross over to the other side and move back to the “hot seat” at the service line to evaluate your partner’s position.
- A ball down the middle goes to the crosscourt player as the ball is coming into their court.
- Change your positions often when receiving serve and influence the server’s service to avoid them settling into a rhythm.
- Only change the direction of the ball when you are moving in that direction. “Pin” and “isolate” one player as much as possible until you can put the ball away.
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Vissering’s top tips
- Don’t say sorry; we all make mistakes and nobody tries to miss. That focuses on the negative “missed” shot. Instead, focus on what correction will fix your swing for the next shot. This is a positive mindset.
- Most errors are caused by poor footwork. Check out our blog for tips on developing excellent footwork.
- Use light, quick feet from the start of warmup throughout your match.
- Always move forward into your shot. Even on a deep ball, move back to keep the ball in front, but then move forward into the shot.
- On volleys, shift to the side, bend the knees, and keep the racquet face angled about 45 degrees. Easy follow through, without snapping the wrist.
- Warmup a good second serve before a match. You are only as good as your second serve. Hard balls into the net are free points for your opponent.
- There are three main options on return of serve: cross court (away from net person), lob (over net person), or down the line (mix it in to keep net player from poaching).
Above all, be a good teammate
It’s worth a mention that the best strategy in the world won’t play out if you’re a poor teammate. Even if you think you already know your partner’s playing style, take the time to ask about them their preferences (i.e. What’s your favorite serve? Do you have a favorite side of the court?). This way, you can help them play to their strengths.
Always, always, always encourage your teammate. This is easier to do when things are going great, but it’s even more important when your partner is in slump. Build them back up, and you’re far more likely to get their best performance. Above all, you want to communicate that you’re a team — and that you’ve got their back no matter what.
The same goes for your opponents, too. Applaud an opponent’s good shot just as you would your own teammate. And if a call is close, always give the benefit of the doubt.
“Good karma makes for a better match, and good sportsmanship makes everyone feel better,” said Vissering. “Also, if you see that your teammate missed a call and you over-rule it, you aren’t going against your teammate, you are simply correcting a missed call. It will likely be reciprocated at some point during the match. Plus, it is the right thing to do.”
Get your doubles on at CA
At CA, we’re dedicated to helping you sharpen your tennis game — and we have lots of fun while we’re at it! To learn more about our indoor courts and programs, visit our website. Oh, and don’t forget to check out our blog on winning singles strategy too.
We’d love to see you on the court!