Easiest Way to Win in Doubles

When I was asked to express my opinion about which doubles formation is the best and which is the least effective at winning points quickly, I did not hesitate: both players at the net (both up) would be my favourite, while the two players at the baseline (both back) to be the defensive one and taking longer to finish/win points.
best doubles tennis formation

Here is my argument and why you should consider playing at the net more often:

But before I get into the details I want to point out that my analysis is done as a general guide and, when assessing one team’s best tactics and strategies, we should consider each player’s technical skills, experience, and their capability to work and communicate as a team.

I believe that the best doubles formation is… both-up.

When the two players manage to get to the net they will be in the best position to put pressure on their opponents, cover the court and finish the points in the quickest way possible.

When the team is at the net, the best chance for the opponents to pass them is using the back court by sending the ball over their heads (lobs).

The both-up formation has the following advantages:

    1. It puts pressure on the opposing team (which is defending) – gives them less time to prepare for the shot.
    2. They can cover a lot more court and there is almost no opening for the opponents to pass (except when using the lob which, if not executed properly, can be a “smash” opportunity).
    3. The ability to put the balls away (finish points) is greater at the net due to the many angle opportunities and the fact that they can contact the ball above net level.

But let’s not rule out the reasons why some players or teams prefer to play from the baseline, in doubles…

The case for both players staying back can be understood considering the following aspects:

  • Both players are not comfortable playing at the net but they possess reliable ground-strokes.
  • The team is receiving against a strong server – in this case, it is wise to begin the point with both players on the baseline and advance after the return is safely made.
  • The team’s serves are being aggressively attacked by the opposing team (example: if the serve is not powerful or deep enough, the returner attacks the net player; in such situation it is a good idea for the server’s partner to begin the point further back, close to the baseline).

Disadvantages of playing both-back formation:

  1. Many angle openings for the opposing team to put the ball away.
  2. Hard to cover the forecourt (against drop-shots or short angles etc.).
  3. Difficulty in finishing the points – they wait for the opposing team to make mistakes.

Any committed doubles player should strive to improve the net skills (volleys and overheads) and most importantly transitioning to the net which for most part can set them up for a comfortable play at the net if executed properly.

For more detailed analysis of how to play and win in doubles, sign up for the Training membership to learn how to play against different doubles formations, how to communicate with your doubles partner, how to cover the court and get to the ball quicker – watch easy to follow graphics and detailed information for beginning and advanced players.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Aggressive Doubles Strategy | The Lob

Many recreational tennis players think that the lob is a “cheap” shot and its main purpose is to “annoy” the opponents. But the best players know that it can be used as an aggressive tactic to take over the net and set themselves up for a winner. Here’s how:

how to use the lob for aggressive doubles tennisAs you see in the attached diagram, lobbing the net player can greatly affect the defending team (the one being lobbed: BP-NP) which has to change positions to retrieve the lob:

The net player (NP) must switch sides and back up (anticipating an eventual overhead from the opposing team);
The baseline player (BP) has to also switch side to return the lob.
Both players from the defending team will be on the run to play the next ball, which makes it difficult continuing the point.

On the other side, the attacking team (OBP – opposing baseline player, and ONP – opposing net player) following the lob will take position at the net with a high chance to finish the point with an overhead or a high volley.

Important:
For a lob to be considered an aggressive shot, it should have lots of topspin (to begin with) and placed deep, well beyond the service line.

Use the lob to give your team time to move up to the net and make your opponents play defensive.

For more doubles winning tactics visit the Training membership section (lessons, drills and tips for singles and doubles tennis players) at WebTennis24.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Which Player Should Serve First in Doubles?

One of the first questions that your partner will ask you at the beginning of a doubles match is: “Do you wanna serve… or shall I…?”
Most of the time players just mumble something until one of them says: “Ok, you serve first!”

But really, this is a situation that should be treated seriously if you care to compete well in doubles.

I’d say that the stronger server between the two of you should serve first. In this way, if your team wins the game, that puts you in the lead and takes some of the pressure off.
On the other side, if both of you have decent serves, then you would pay a compliment to your partner by letting him/her serve first. That shows you have trust in him/her and helps in building your team’s confidence.

 
Cosmin Miholca
Certified Tennis Professional
WebTennis24.com