Three answers to questions that may help you get the strongest start. (AP)

There are many things you can do to ensure that your doubles team starts a match playing the best tennis possible. Staying connected with your partner is critical—even before the match begins.

1

What can I do before the match to be more prepared?

Establish a routine. A routine is a series of steps that helps you get into the optimal state of mind. This can happen the night before the match, when you get your outfit ready or start to properly hydrate. It can also start the morning of the match with a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast.

2

I don’t know my doubles partner well. What can I do to improve our chemistry?

If you are paired with a player you don’t know, get your partner’s email and send him or her a short note to introduce yourself. The note can simply state you are looking forward to playing the upcoming match, or you can get into some playing details. You can also include your receiving side preference and suggest arriving early to warm up and get to know each other.

3

What kind of routine should we have on the court?

Once the match starts, you should form a connection with your partner before each point. This could be telling him or her where you are serving, or if you’ll return and come in. It can also be a high five, or just a friendly nod and a few words of encouragement.

Professional doubles players also communicate after almost every point. Before your team serves, it is important that the communication be verbal, as you each need to know where the serve is going. If verbal communication isn’t necessary, as in the case for some return points, make eye contact, nod your head or simply say, “Come on!” Sometimes, all it takes is a simple gesture to stay upbeat and connected.


Learn more from Gigi Fernandez, 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion and a Hall of Famer, at www.doubles.tv.