Going out wide with your serve can potentially
put your doubles partner in somewhat of a vulnerable position
if you use the serve too much. It is tough to poach the
ball as the net man because the opponent has the alley to
hit the ball into and the ball has the potential of coming
back with some serious angle. I think the best bet is to
usually go down the "T" or right at their body which jambs
them. If your opponent does not like being stretched out
far and hitting cross court shots than it can potentially
be a plus for you and your partner and a good time for more
out wide serves. However, you would need to look out for
more returns hit down the line or cross court with better
By serving the ball down the middle of the
court your opponent has less of an angle to return with
and when they return the ball down the middle you have a
better chance of covering the shot they hit. It also puts
your partner in a much better position for a poaching situation.
Going right at their body forces them to
get out of the way and sometimes even just block the ball
back which allows your partner a lot more time to step in
and take the easy shot. You would be surprised how many
people underestimate the "in the body" serve. I know aces
look better, but these types of serves are very effective.
I got myself out of trouble with some "in the body serves"
recently in the last game of a 3rd set and won the set.
I actually aced him once going right at his body. The opponent
returning serve was trying to get out of the way of the
ball and became off balance and did not have a chance to
swing at the ball as it blew by him.
The other thing you need to pay attention
to are player's strike zones. I played a guy last night
who was getting on top of my kick serves like it was no
big deal and crushing it back, consistently. So I started
hitting slice serves and he had a much harder time returning
the low slice serves. Mixing up the serve and finding out
what works against certain players is all a part of the
I play another gentleman regularly who is
about 6'-4" tall and returns great and hits his ground strokes
great when he is at full stretch. My strategy against him
is to jamb him which is more effective. He still gets some
good returns back, but not as powerful for the most part.
I also draw more errors out of him this way. The taller
opponents have more problems when they are jammed with a
serve or a shot. Some of the shorter guys will not struggle
with that as much because they have less body to get out
of the way, but the out wide and high balls could give the
shorter players some problems.
If you just bomb your serves in and your opponent
lobs them back deep into the court every time it is time
to rethink the big serve. Serves that have more spin and
kick to them are harder to lob. Mixing in some slower pace
serves with more spin could catch your opponent off guard.
Or your opponent may have more confidence to return the
serve with a groundstroke rather than a lob. If your opponent
returns with a cross court groundstroke it will help you
and your partner both be at the net as opposed to deep court
lobs which push one player back to the baseline and allow
your opponents to attack the net.
Another thing to keep in mind is what your
partner expects you to do. Communicate with your partner
about what serve you will hit before you hit it. Although
you do not see a lot of this in club play, it can be a huge
factor in the game. I will let my partners know where I
plan to serve so they can position themselves appropriately
and not try to poach when I plan on throwing in an off pace
slow ball serve.
In the end, adapt to who you are playing against
and who you have as a partner. Mix up the serves so your
opponent does not get into a rhythm, but find what works
and be sure to attack the vulnerable parts of your opponent.
If you see them starting to lean in one direction or another
on your serve, attack the open court. The main goal is to
adjust your serve however you need to so your partner can
attack the weak returns.
Good Luck on the