Tennis Doubles Tips: Choosing a Partner

Tip #6: Know the nature of the beast

Doubles play is a very different animal than singles. There are also differences at the various levels of doubles play.

In pro doubles, most of the intense action is down the center of the court. Whereas on a club level, the action tends to be more on the outsides of the court.

If you have a strong forehand and weak backhand at the club level, playing the deuce side will be more effective. If you play the ad side, you won't have the same opportunities.

Diversity in weapons and flexibility in style of play are essential to success in the doubles game. Although tempting to just serve and volley, I encourage doubles players to practice a little bit of everything, including:

  • Serve and volley
  • Serve and pick up the defensive return and go in
  • Playing from the baseline

Tip #7: There is no "easy" side of play

If you are offered the "easy" side of play by your partner, respectfully decline. They are most likely referring to the deuce side.

Just remember that one of the most difficult shots in both doubles and singles is the inside-out backhand return of serve, and it's equally difficult during a baseline rally.

Hold on to any partner that volunteers to play the deuce side -- they are worth their weight in gold.

Now that I look over my tips above, I think I can now speak with confidence as I toast the next bride and groom on what it takes to create a winning doubles team!


In 1978, Nick Bollettieri founded the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy, the first full-time tennis boarding school to combine intense training on the court with a custom-designed academic curriculum. He has coached 10 players who have reached No. 1 in the world, including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker and Martina Hingis. To learn more, visit IMGAcademies.com.

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