Here is another article by Joe Marshall. You can see all of them by typing his name into the search box above and to the right. His doubles tennis strategies are really worth applying to your game.

Poaching, I believe, originally referred to stealing game by hunting on someone else’s property. In tennis, poaching refers to the art, in doubles tennis, of a person leaving the side of the court he is protecting, to slant in to his partner’s side, and steal a point by putting a volley away.

Most of the time, the partner of the server stands on the alternate side of the court from the server, near the net, covering the opposite side of their half of the court, hoping for a weak, or poorly placed, return of serve, that he can easily put away. In club doubles, the net man rarely poaches unless he has an easy floater. He is so concerned about “covering his side of the court” that he rarely ventures off his real estate, for fear of the embarrassment of the returner hitting the ball right where he HAD been, for an easy winner.

Let me say something before we go any further……Winning tennis, at all levels, is about playing the percentages……if you ain’t poaching, you ain’t helping. In many cases, you’d be better off back at the baseline with your partner, trying to win the game with ground strokes and lobs, rather than just sitting there and never poaching. The whole purpose of the net position is to play aggressively. To “boldly go where no man has gone before,” picking off what the returner thought were good returns, making them take their eye off the ball with dramatic, but subtle fakes, putting away overheads, and, in general, making their returning lives miserable.

In a tournament match, I like to poach on my partner’s first serve of the match. And I mean POACH. Set up in the middle of the service box (middle from side to side, AND from front to back), and SLANT IN QUICKLY, performing a split step as the ball bounces (moving forward and sideways), with your racquet raised high, anticipating a return halfway between the net strap and the sideline.

Now the big question…..where do you hit the sitter?

Many volleys are missed because the volleyer hasn’t anticipated what he would do with the volley before he got there. Read the rest of this entry »

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