“A SHIP IN PORT IS SAFE, BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT SHIPS ARE BUILT FOR.”
Ineffective doubles players never get burned down the alleys. You’ll recognize them by their allergic reactions when they get beat down the alleys – “she’s not passing me down the alley anymore,” I’ll show her who controls the alleys, I won’t get humiliated again…and the partner at the baseline isn’t much help with comments like “cover the alley, don’t let her pass you again,” or the rolling of the eyes, strongly implying, “here we go again.” This kind of thinking has the net player hugging the alley as though there is a treasure trove of gold there. Let go of that thinking – it’s a fool’s errand.
Tennis Doubles Strategy:
Basically, if an opponent never (seldom) passes you down the alley, the odds are high that you, as the net player, are not fulfilling one of your two responsibilities which is to intercept the cross-court returns from your opponent. The other assignment is to cover the alleys when necessary – I’ll talk about how to do that in future posts. In doubles, an effective net player is supposed to be a disruptive force, you need to be in your opponent’s head as a threat, you need to be a rhythm breaker, you need to put pressure on the baseline player, you need to draw attention to yourself… I’m not suggesting helter-skelter, swashbuckling type of tennis movements – rather, cool, calculated, savvy incursions towards the middle of the tennis court. That’s Doubles.
Effective doubles players do, on occasion get beat down the alleys. All of us get caught leaning the wrong way. It’s okay. Learn to be wise on when to cover the alleys, but don’t let the thought of covering the alleys overwhelm your strategic position at the net rendering you a lame duck. Your doubles partner needs you.
Effective Doubles net players – Be the good ship. Test the waters, pull up anchor, drop the lines, read the currents, and venture out into the sea of opportunities — toward the middle of the tennis court. There is abundance if you seek it. Happy sailing!
Today’s the day!
*The nautical quote was popularized and often used by Grace M. Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist and a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.