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Doubles Formations and Vulnerabilities

Mike O'ReganThere are 3 basic formations in doubles play. Each formation has its benefits, but each formation is equally vulnerable.

The first formation, most commonly seen at the start of the point, is one player up and one player back. If a team decides to stay in this formation throughout the point, a large hole is created angled through the middle of the court. Many doubles players don't see the hole in the one up/one back formation. But because of the angles, the hole is huge and easy to hit for those who know it's there. If a team decides to play this way, make sure the net person is actively protecting the open area.

The second formation occurs when both players are back on the baseline. Many teams commonly set up in this formation if they are playing against a team that frequently lob. The two back formation covers less territory than any of the other formations, exposing the short alleys and the area in front of the service line. If a team decides to play this way, they can defend the angles by stepping inside the baseline and taking balls on the rise.

The last formation occurs when both players are up at the net. Because it's behind the service line, the rear of the court is most vulnerable in the both up formation. The rear is open to a lob by either opponent, from any angle, anytime. The rear is an opening that can't be closed, and it is more visible for opponents to hit to. If a team decides to play in this formation, they must play aggressively and put balls away so they don't give their opponents a chance to lob.

Depending on the strategy and skill level of your opponents, each formation in doubles can benefit a team. Just remember that no formation is fool proof in this game and it makes sense for you and your partner to practice all three formations so you can use them when you play.

Mike O'Regan

Tennis Professional

Lowcountry Tennis