Have you been watching the US Open? Finally, the television executives' antennae have been switched on and they are showing some doubles. The other night, I was watching Hingis and Penetta dismantle Peschke and Srebotnik. Here are some patterns I noticed that we mortals can utilize in our weekly doubles games. Some points may seem obvious, while others may be more subtle . (1) The middle is the answer to the riddle. I noticed so many points were won when Hingis and Penetta wailed the ball between the two players at the net. Hitting the ball down the middle often fazes teams at all levels. Hitting the ball down the middle forces the team to decide who should make a play for the ball, often leaving both players miffed and resulting in their making an error because of a late decision. (2) Hingis angled herself thoughtfully as the receiver's partner on the return of serve. This is a cardinal rule of doubles. Being aware of your opponent's shot selection is essential to knowing where to position yourself at the net. If a shot is is out wide, it is prudent for you to move closer to the ally, while if a shot is hit down the middle, it is wise to place yourself closer to the middle. (3) Both Hingis and Penetta aimed down the line when they caught the opponents poaching. It's always best to keep your opponents honest: down the line shots afford you the ability to hit the ball later than you would connect with a cross court shot. (4) Aim at the body. What better way to channel your rage and aggression? In addition, hitting at the body forces players to hit a quick, gut reaction shot, rather than hitting a thoughtful, well formed shot. In addition, it's best to aim below the waste, forcing the player to make a scoop volley shot rather then a power volley shot. (5) I've often noticed Hingis hitting a lob down the line and then proceeding to come in to the net. This is an incredibly smart tactic as it puts your opponents on defense, by making them move. This also gives you more time to get to the net and get into a comfortable position to produce an offensive shot. >> >> (6) I witnessed both Penetta and Hingis hit the ball into the open court behind the net player. A key to being victorious is being able to see the holes and aim your ball to where no one is. This strategy should be apparent but is often under utilized.
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