Few situations in tennis are more intimidating than facing a strong serve-and-volleyer. In doubles, that means two players will be at the net. It’s the most desirable position for a team to be in.
How can you combat the serve-and-volley and have more success breaking serve? Here are five tips to turn the tables in doubles.
When the server stays at the baseline, your goal is to hit your return deep. But when facing a net-rushing opponent, your goal is to hit the ball at their feet. Aim your return to the far-wide corner of their service box to ensure a low and difficult first volley.
TAKE TIME AWAY
Stand close to the baseline and block the return, hitting it more like a volley instead of taking a full swing. Returning inside the court gives your opponents even less time to get to the net. If you’re able to, follow your return to the net, which improves your court position and takes an advantage away from your opponents.
Lobbing the return over the server’s partner is a great option against serve-and-volleyers. It works well on both sides of the court, but particularly on the deuce side, where the lob is going over the backhand. Make sure you follow the lob into the net and assume an offensive position.
Players often have a plan for their return, but they don’t have a plan for their next shot. In doubles, you always want to think two shots ahead. Statistically, the point is likely to end within the first four strikes of the ball, so if you can make the return and the next shot, you have increased your odds of winning the point.
A UNIFIED BACKCOURT
Serve-and-volleyers who hit their first volley crosscourt are often looking to finish the point with a putaway volley at the returner’s partner, commonly referred to as the “dead duck.” By bring the “dead duck” back to the baseline, your team is now in the two-back-against-two-up formation—which can be advantageous if your groundstrokes are better than your opponent’s volleys. It’s also an effective change-up strategy than can perplex opponents.
Learn more from 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion Gigi Fernandez at gigifernandeztennis.com.