Recreational doubles players should be able to play both the ad and deuce sides of the court. Still, everyone has a preference. Ideally, the partners will prefer different sides. If that isn’t the case, here are some questions that can help you make the decision.
I’m a 4.5 and my partner is a 4.0—which side should I play?
The better player should play the ad side. He or she will be better equipped to handle the pressure of game points and break points. In mixed doubles, let the male player take the ad side, unless the female player can handle the pace of the male opponent’s serve.
My forehand volley is strong, but my backhand volley is really weak. Which side of the court will help me compensate for this?
Put the stronger forehand volley on the ad side so the player can more easily poach. It is also important to consider backhand volleys. Whomever has the stronger backhand volley should be on the deuce side. This way the stronger backhand is in the middle of the court, and the weaker backhand volley is on the outside.
In doubles, most shots go through the middle of the court, so you don’t want to put a weakness at net. It’s not as big a problem at the baseline to have the weakness in the middle, because with one person at the net, the middle is hard to get to—and if both players are at the baseline, the person with the stronger groundstroke can take the shot.
I’m right handed and my forehand is my best shot. Should I play the deuce side?
The stronger forehand should play the deuce side and the stronger backhand should play the ad side. This way the strengths are outside shots, which is what you are likely to see in a crosscourt rally. If you have someone with a weak groundstroke, put that weakness in the middle, where the partner at the net or baseline can take those shots.
Gigi Fernandez is a 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion and a Hall of Famer. For more doubles instruction tips from Fernandez, visit www.doubles.tv.