Back in the day, back to Johnnie Mac, and even before, doubles was a game of strategies to see who could take control of the net first. Theoretically, the team who got to net first had the best chance of closing out the point. Being close to the net allows you to hit angles and force your opponent into more errors.
Then along came the Williams Sisters and big-babe tennis with their booming groundstrokes. Now in Grand Slam doubles finals, youíll sometimes see all 4 ladies playing doubles from the baseline. What happened to the net strategy? What has changed to make a baseliner think they can win doubles by hitting groundstrokes?
Many of the young players have a lot of power from the baseline. Yes they could play net if they absolutely had to, but they are more of a threat from the back court. Plus itís generally easier to track down lobs side to side rather than running up and back.
The baseline doubles game is turning into a more common strategy amongst young ladies. Itís not so effective in the menís game or mixed doubles because the woman has less of a chance to overpower the man, and any lady playing mixed is used to more power already. In menís and mixed itís generally going to still be true that the team who controls the net will be more successful.
If your doubles partner is a baseliner, and youíre an aggressive net player, you may have to adjust your game slightly. Donít force a baseliner into a volley position if they are uncomfortable. Instead, use their power to set up the shots at net for you to put away.
And if you come up against a doubles team who always plays back, try mixing up your strategy. Hitting deep groundstrokes to them is playing right into their strength. Try taking off some pace, or hitting high moonballs, and then come back with a short angle volley. Moving the baseliners up and back will take them out of their comfort zone.
Giving up the net is not a good strategy for everyone. However, if you have powerful groundstrokes, it could be a good tactic to throw off your opponent, and often intimidate them.
Have fun on the courts!