Guest Author - Sandra Eggers
Just as singles is a different game than doubles, mixed doubles is yet again a very different game than regular doubles. Not offense intended, but the plain fact is that men are generally stronger and quicker than women. So before you even get out to the court, you probably have a good idea in mixed doubles who the weaker player is going to be.
Play the Woman
If everything else is equal, the woman will generally be the weaker player on a mixed doubles team, and thus should be your target. Hit pace to her. Hit topspin. Make her run. She will probably not hit as offensive of a shot as the man might and is likely not as quick.
Finding the Weakness
Given the above, you ideally want to direct all balls to the woman. But guess what? Some women have a tremendous ability to block back the power shots. There are also a few mixed teams where the woman is a stronger player. She might be very aggressive at net or have a strong baseline game. Donít always assume youíll win if you play the woman. Evaluate both of your opponents and adjust your game to exploit their weaknesses.
Donít Lob the Guy
If youíre going to lob, do so over the shorter person, which is usually the woman. Besides that, she probably doesnít move as quickly as the man to get back for the lob. In fact it might be the man who covers those lobs, so hit it over her and make the team move. If you are determined to lob over the guy, go ahead and try it once, but donít give him a sitter or you may as well just hand them the game.
Be a Great Partner
Especially since playing abilities can vary so much between men and women at the same level, one of the biggest tips for mixed doubles success is to be a supportive partner. That means you encourage your partner to keep going for their shots even if they miss, and you acknowledge a great shot as such. Keep up the positive energy between points. Continue talking about strategy between games and adjust as needed.
The whole point of mixed doubles is to have fun, so make sure above all else that you come off the court with a smile.