Tennis is an individual sport, right? “Singles” is usually what we watch on TV, but “doubles” is actually what we play. And although you only see one player against another on TV, they always thank their “team” at post-match press conferences. Tennis is definitely a team sport.
The ladies’ teams I coach here in Seaside are instructed on how to move together, cover for one another, cheer for each other and provide on-court coaching to their partners. Doubles teams that are successful learn to almost think alike. I call it being on the same page, and it is crucial for strong partnerships. In team clinics, players hear tips on how to master these traits. They hear the same tips. They all learn to think alike on the court. This “being on the same page” will help win matches.
I also get the opportunity to coach visiting teams from Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Knoxville, and so on during the spring and fall. I’m told they don’t hear some of my tips back home. I’ll bet they do. I can explain how to hit the ball down the middle in doubles, and players somehow hear it better from me simply because it is said in a different way than it was said by their home pro. There really is no one way of doing things in tennis. Different pros teach different things and in different ways. That is a good thing. You should always seek coaching that provides various viewpoints. It is to your advantage to choose what will work best for your game and your team.
Every time you play doubles, one of your opponents is weaker than the other. (Or possibly just having a bad day.) Never get beat by the best player on the court or by an opponent’s best shot. Learn to steer the ball toward the weaker player and set your partner up for more offensive shots. If they hit a piercing forehand, then try to hit it to their backhand. Defensive tennis does not work very often these days. And it is no fun. Learn to be aggressive on the court and take control of the play. Move your partner around on the court, so he or she is able to do more with the ball. Encourage your partner to poach from time to time. And watch the confidence rise on your side of the net and erode on the other.
I love to talk about ways to beat opponents on the court. Come to my daily 8 a.m. Eye-Opener Clinic for more tennis tips and teamwork coaching.
Tracy Townsend is a resort tennis expert, and his company 30A Tennis manages Seaside Tennis on behalf of the SCDC. You can reach him at email@example.com, or call (850) 231-2214. For news, events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook.
Courts are open daily 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Evening play may be prearranged. Clinics, private instruction and juniors offered year-round. Please call for a current schedule.
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