Doubles In Tennis And Its psychology
Doubles in Tennis is defined as “four-handed tennis”.
If you have played bridge, you will know the importance of playing for the enhancement and protection of your partner’s hand in order to succeed as a team rather than just playing for yourself. The underlying principal behind tennis doubles is also more or less the same. In tennis doubles, the essential feature is not individual brilliancy, but combined teamwork. The teamwork in tennis could be classified under two categories.
Supposing a team comprises of a stronger and a weaker player combination, the strength of the team is dependant on the stronger player to the extent that he can play defending and protecting his weaker partner. In this type of doubles, the stronger player’s individual brilliancy comes into play like in singles. In the other scenario, where the team combination comprises of two almost equal partners, the strength of the team lies on the strength of the (even very slightly) weaker of the two although both are supposed to be of the same class.
The main agenda in doubles is to have the ball on play all the time. A so-called double fault may be bad enough in singles, though unpardonable in doubles. There should be certainty on the service being returned after which it could be low and on to a server coming in. In doubles, restrain your tendency to go for wild shots to get a clean sweep unless you get a clear opening; for don’t forget that you have to pierce the defenses of two men unlike in singles.
In doubles, the best defense is attack. In doubles, net is the most vantage position you should always try to gain to attempt a kill whenever a good opening emerges. Poaching into the territory of your partner is all right if you see a really good chance to score; but a word of caution: Unless you are sure of a kill, never poach, since it opens up your court for the opponents to respond with a resounding counter attack. You should also not poach if you are in a badly missing streak since it throws your partner too into costly confusion.
Covering a court effectively should not pose much of a problem with all the players clamoring for positions nearer to the net. Play every shot keeping the net positions in mind while going for the smash and volley too whenever an opportunity presents. Retreat from the net only when absolutely pressed to do so.
Tennis doubles is essentially a science of angles to cover your part of the court effectively against enemy attack. To succeed in doubles, you should get very conversant in the art of covering up your territory spontaneously with anticipation. For example, if the ball goes towards the sideline, the player at the net on that particular side should immediately move towards that sideline while the other falls back slightly towards the center of the court, covering the area between the two. However, in case the subsequent return were to land on the adjacent side on their part of the court, the partners should reverse positions. If you were to depict these positions diagrammatically, it would take the shape of a triangle where the angle at the apex points towards the net with the other two angles of the triangle running towards the sidelines.
Since both partners take up positions nearer the net towards its left and right edges, each partner has to cover many balls that pass overhead within his particular area. Since it may not be possible to get any good direct shot off a ball flying overhead, the best under the circumstances is to hit it in the air first before smashing them in at the opponents’ camp. This is where the danger of poaching is at its greatest unless the person poaching is hundred percent sure of taking and handling the ball well.
When one partner poaches unexpectedly, the other partner is thrown into confusion and is compelled to hurriedly cover the overhead with a high possibility of making a bad shot of it (in case the ball is missed by the poaching partner) giving the server a good opportunity to go for a kill.
In order to minimize confusions at critical junctures, refrain from taking any shots going overhead of your partner unless he specifically calls you to. Even otherwise, if you see a good kill for you off a ball going over the head of your partner, say “Mine,” loudly and clearly before grabbing that ball from your partner. You should discuss all such issues and possibilities in detail in advance and map out strategies to deal with different situations to maximize the benefits of intelligent teamwork.
When you or your partner is in a bad spot, the lob is a good tactical defensive shot to get time for extricating yourselves from the mess. The service is a key factor in doubles since it is the server who gets the net. Strive to retain the service with you, for losing it could be very costly in doubles. Keep your shots either low or send them very high. Shoulder high shots are generally the easiest to kill. You may volley down or hard if possible; however, opening the court should be the primary objective of any shot you make.
Hitting down the center would help disrupt your opponents’ teamwork, while it is the sidelines you should be aiming at when going for your aces.
You should try to concentrate on attacking one (after ascertaining the weaker of the two) and keep pounding him mercilessly making him to crack under the onslaught. Attacking both alternatively would not tire either of them and would only help them to be in the game and eye the ball well.
If your partner is faltering, don’t show your annoyance with him; but unobtrusively take a lot of the strike off him until he recovers to bounce back to his normal game. When you are in doubles, let perfect understanding and good team spirit prevail at all times between you and your partner. Two partners fighting among themselves can never hope to take the fight effectively to the opposite camp.
Although you may offer your partner any suggestions during the course of a match, never insist that he follows them. If he doesn’t want to follow your suggestions, he may have his own reasons for same, and he could be quite right too.
Any team playing doubles should have its designated leader who should concern himself mainly with laying down policy and line of attack; rather than the type of strokes to be employed. The leader should also be willing to come down on any given point especially at times when his partner is in the superior position.
Once you pick a partner, try to stick with him. The liking and respect for each other as individuals and players should be mutual. It is always better that the partners differ in their playing styles so that you don’t duplicate any faults in technique rather than capitalizing on each other’s virtues.