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Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
I have played for 25 years and coached for the last 17 years--certified United States Professional Tennis Association Professional One--worked for Punahou Schools-voted the #1 Sports School in the United States, as a Program Supervisor, in charge of coaching the High Performance Players as well as coordinating programs for K-12 and Tennis Pro Education.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Who plays what side in Doubles.


As a coach, this is the hardest question to answer. There are just too many answers, but if you quantify it and break it down, you come to an answer through ironcially, questions. First, are you a coach that believes in a setter and a putaway person--I am. Someone plays conservative, percentages, and sets up balls for a putaway person to deal with. At upper levels, these roles interchange slightly. If you have two low-percentage players playing together, you're going to have great wins and some really bad ones also, but to even it out, you find the percentage player and team them up with a more aggressive player. In my experience, you're usually one or the other. Thus, percentage and conservative player on the ad.

Now, the second question is do you place the big forehand/backhand on the wings--meaning deuce forehand and ad backhand, or place the best shots in the middle? I find that the big shot on the wing allows people to run around it and hit their best shot. Hey I played an entire match where ever return I hit a forehand--first and second serve. At low levels, this is not an issue, and at upper levels, the second serve is the one that matters so placing the stronger shot on the wings opens up more possibilities. The better backhand on the ad.

Finally, mentally, the big points come on the ad side. Imagine a tiebreaker, I serve the first point, and then, I receive the next. I'm the stronger player and more consistent--so we're up 2-0. Now if not, I don't even touch a ball until it's either 0-2 or 1-1. Big difference. Placing the stronger player on the ad allows them to hit more forehand volleys, overheads, and grab more balls in the center with their forehand while bearing the brunt of the tough points. Stronger mental game on the ad.

BUT as a disclaimer, you have to try it out on the court, because I have placed two strong players on a court, and they were horrible. My good friend and I cannot play doubles together, we're horrible. We lose to everyone. We're both 5.0's. We once lost to a 3.5 and a 4.0 in practice. How awesome is that? You have to try it out. When I went to 4.5 Nationals, one of our guys was a raw recruit we just brought up from 4.0's to fill the roster. He and I ended up playing together and posting a 3-1 record at 4.5 Nationals, and moved up to 5.0 together. To this day, he is the partner I enjoy playing with and we're very good together also.

Stronger player ad, more consistent, and more mentally tough...but it has to work..

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