By Daniel Quiceno, Assistant Director of Junior Tennis at Manchester Athletic Club
Server: Play only first serves, hitting at a medium pace, aiming right towards the returner’s body. Then, follow the flight of the ball and split step either at the service line or the moment the returner makes contact with the ball, whichever happens first.
Server’s partner: Pose a threat for each return. This is accomplished by moving forward every time the returner is about to hit the ball. This positions this player to be ready to poach. Poaching and crossing places doubt in the returner’s head on every point and, more importantly, it is the easiest spot on the court to win points, right on top of the net. It is a scary position but very rewarding. It also helps if the server is hitting first serves into the body. Teamwork!!
Returner: Be as steady and deceptive with returns. Follow the flight of the return and split step either at the service line or until server’s side makes contact with the ball, which ever comes first. Making the other team play is the biggest priority for this player.
Returner’s partner: Always be ready for any potential poach from server’s side and to capitalize on any high quality return of serve from his or her partner. Stand on the service line, facing the net player. The main focus should only be on that player until the return passes by the net player. Also, always be ready to assist the returner with the line calls. Even though it’s a team sport, individual double skills need to constantly be worked on to improve your game.
Crucial pointers to accomplish this:
Master the half volleys
Get comfortable spending time at the service line
Use drop shot slices, lobs and short angles
Always play the higher volley and the easier ball to the closer player
Serve and move to the service line
Return and move to the service line
Hit overheads into the middle
Talk to your partner after every point
Use hand signals
Tips from Avis:
“Visuals are how most people learn so that sounds great and repetitive visuals. That is how I learned. Seeing and then feeling the shot!”