The Most Effective Groundstrokes For Doubles Matches

By Will Boucek

I write a lot about getting to the net, but I realize not everyone is as in love with the net as I am.

So… in this week’s lesson, I wanted to do something different. I’ll cover strategies you can use from the baseline to effectively win points without coming to the net.

Essentially, this is what I would do to beat me 😉

When hitting groundstrokes in doubles, there are two kinds of shots.

  1. Shots when both opponents are at the net.
  2. Shots when both opponents are not at the net.

First, I’ll show you what to do when both players are at the net.

Down The Middle Solves The Riddle

One of my college teammates always said this. It was funny, but it’s also true.

Against 80% of teams, hitting a solid groundstroke down the middle at the center netstrap will win a lot of points. The net is lower, so you’re less likely to miss. The other team has to communicate and often gets confused on who should hit the volley. And they have no angles hitting a volley from the middle of the court. Most USTA players can get it back at best, but not do much with it.

One thing some people do to combat this is crown the net in the middle. You’ll have to notice what they’re doing and adjust. The best counter move here is a lob over the backhand volley of someone. The other option, if you have enough confidence, is to rip a shot to the backhand volley of the weaker player. I actually don’t recommend going for some crazy angle or trying to pass someone up the line. You’re more likely to miss this way when you should be making them beat you.

The second category of shot gets a little more interesting.

Hitting Groundstrokes Against Everyone Else

Most of your groundstrokes in tennis will fall into this category. Before deciding what to do you need to ask yourself an important question.

Which player is stronger on the other side of the net?

If the weaker player is at the baseline, then it’s easy. Hit it to them and to their backhand (or weakest shot) if possible.

If the weaker player is at the net, then it gets more complex. If you can out rally the other person, do that. But if they’re as good, or better than you, you need to quickly find a way to get the opponent in a weaker position. You have three options.

  1. Get it to their backhand.
  2. Hit it to the weaker net player.
  3. Tell your net player to poach.

You’ll have to change it up and decide which one gives you the best chance to win, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you can out rally someone better than you.

There are some cases where both players are equal on the other side. In that case, follow these guidelines.

If someone is at the net, hit it to the person at the baseline. Keep it deep if the net player doesn’t poach. If they do poach, keep it low and drive it crosscourt.

If both are at the baseline, much like the net players, down the middle solves the riddle. You’ll want to hit it deep in the court to give your net player a chance to poach and keep it toward the opponent’s backhand in the middle if possible. If you get 2 forehands in the middle, then hit it crosscourt, your forehand to their backhand.

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