Tennis at Sawgrass is amazing. The competitive matches, friendly round robins, and team clinics all offer opportunities to improve skills and build relationships with other tennis players.
I have LOVED learning doubles over the past year and a half! Last season, I played consistently with the same partner, Lindsay Long. By playing together each week, we learned what each others tendencies were, our best shots, court positioning in different situations, and how to encourage each other when we were winning (or losing!).
Now that we’re on the C team, opponents have gotten tougher. They are more consistent and more versed in strategy. So Lindsay and I decided to kick off the season with a lesson together focused on doubles strategy! The timing was great because we DID play together in our match the week we had the lesson.
We probably won’t be playing together every week, but these ended up being skills that we could take with us as we play with other partners.
Doubles Tennis Lesson
Lennon was our coach for the lesson, and he was really helpful! We expressed that we wanted to know how to change our game if the opponents were either better than us or using certain shots over and over to win points. The drills we worked on were designed to help us position ourselves better throughout the match in order to give us the best shot at winning.
After the warm up, here are a few things that we worked on specifically:
- We started out one up one back working on playing points quickly. He feeds in the ball, we hit the ball to a strategic spot on the court (or try to!). He feeds in the next ball right away to simulate the ball coming right back at us. After eight points, we switched positions. The balls could go to the baseline or net. We went back and forth for several rounds.
- Once we got the hang of it, he gave us a new goal. We were to return each ball to only one side of the court, all balls to the deuce side for example. He still fed in eight balls to either baseline or net, but they all had to go to the deuce side across the net. The point of the drill was to target the weaker player on the other side. Most of the time in matches, there is a stronger player, and it’s important to know when to avoid that player!
- Then he varied the drill, and we played all the points out with Lennon. We were still aiming for one side of the court. Because he was playing them out with us, they came at us faster. He stressed to us that we needed to recover to a spot on the court after striking the ball. Whether it’s coming to the net, stepping behind the baseline (or just inside the baseline), recover and be ready to split step to get the next ball. If you notice a pattern of play and winners they are hitting over and over again, take those shots away from them by recovering to a different spot on the court if necessary. During our match two days later, we encouraged each other when we saw one another “recovering to a spot” on the court!
- Lastly, we worked on serve returns. We see all kinds of serves, loopy, rainbow, fast, slice, you name it. Being confident returning all kinds of serves is important! I want our opponents to know they are not getting free points on serve! We even got to hit serves to Lennon, and practice recovering after the serve!
Over all, it was a great lesson! We talked about communicating, hitting solid ground stokes (knuckles over the ball!), recovering to get ready for the next shot, and stroke placement to target the weaker player on the other side. I would highly recommend taking a lesson with a partner that you play with often. It will boost your confidence as you play together!
Lennon encouraged us to talk to each other and work on displaying a united front…high five, cheer, whisper between points, and let mistakes and bad calls roll off your back. In the end, we’re not training for Wimbledon! It’s country club tennis, and it’s meant to be FUN!