Do you ever feel like you’re being targeted in doubles? You could be the weaker player on your team—or, you might be incorrectly positioned. No matter your skill level, improving your court positioning is something any player should strive for.
Q: My partner and I feel we’re not covering enough of the court. How can we improve?
The simple truth is that you and your partner can’t cover the entire court. With just two people and three areas for your opponents to hit into—both doubles alleys, and the middle of the court—there will always be one area more accessible than the others.
But you and your partner can cover 80 to 90 percent of the most important parts of the court. By conceding the rest of it, you’ll compel your opponents to try hitting low-percentage shots that hasten defeat. This is done with proper net positioning, which is a critical element of winning doubles.
Q: Where should I be positioned at net?
Divide your service box in equal quadrants by drawing a horizontal and a vertical line through the middle. Where these lines connect is a neutral location. When in doubt, don’t run off—go to the neutral location.
Some players split the front court in half, including the alley, which places each net player two to three feet closer to the alley and leaves a big gap in the middle. This is a mistake that should be avoided.
Q: Is it OK to leave the neutral location?
While standing in the neutral location, extend your racquet arm as far as possible and draw a circle. You should have at least one foot in the circle most of the time you are at the net. When you are outside of this circle, bad things tend to happen. If you’re too close to the net, it opens up the lob; if you’re too close to the service line, your opponent has an easy shot at your feet; if you’re too close to the alley, the middle is left open; if you’re too close to the middle, your half of the court is left open.
For more doubles instruction from Gigi Fernandez, go to www.doubles.tv.