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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2018, 21:22 
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Apologies if we have had a similar thread - I can't recall it

I've been spending a bit of time doing service practice lately, with some reward. This approach is well documented and there are lots of threads about how to approach etc, plus I have been on a course with one of the UK's best servers that gave a really good framework within which to set objectives and practice.

This weekend is one of our local league tournaments, and as it is quite large some of the "minor" events (e.g. age related) are happening during the week. On Tuesday we had the prelims for the over 40s (in which I qualified and will play the quarter final at the weekend) and tomorrow we have the over-40s doubles. I was going to practice serves today and the thought occurred to me - aside from in matches / practice matches, I have never practiced serving for doubles - and it is quite different in a number of ways, is it not?

1: Your opponent has a lot more certainty of where the ball is going. This I suggest tends to lead to 'safe' serving: trying to keep your opponent out being a higher priority than setting up a 3rd ball.
2: As a right hander, you are likely to be serving on the opposite diagonal to that which would commonly be used.
3: 'Short' or 'half long' serves are likely to be the norm, which typically wouldn't be served in singles on that diagonal (by a right hander)
4: Recovery is different. For singles, you look to be recovered in position for the return, in doubles it would be more making space for your partner's stroke.
5: Signalling, so your partner knows what you are going to do is sometimes used (I don't tend to though as I tend to serve tight and safe)
6: Your serve needs to consider the likely return your partner will get, and if it will be beneficial. An example would be that locally we don't have many strong ladies so in mixed doubles introducing heavy sidespin serves can lead to a spinny, touched return they may struggle with.

I don't think it is a particular problem area for me but thought it might be an interesting topic, so

- Do any of you independently practice doubles serves?
- Any other tactical considerations?

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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2018, 21:53 
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Can't say I ever practice it but I do use an entirely different serve in doubles than in singles. I'm uncomfortable playing my usual pendulum/reverse pendulum serves from the right-half of the table as to then go back cross court I'm pretty sure my serve would be illegal in terms of body hiding the contact.

I therefore do a backhand serve, and I have basically 3 variations - number one, my mainstay, is a heavy-as-possible, short-as-possible backspin serve. I can do this surprisingly consistently now, thanks to playing doubles fairly regularly for past few seasons and in British League. I then have the same motion with much less backspin or possibly float, and a slightly different motion which produces long, heavy topspin. I primarily use the latter to either catch players out or against weaker opponents who I know will still try to push their return.

There is always a tactical consideration. Unlike singles however it's as much about my partner as it is my opponent. At the level I play at, occasionally my partners will be unable to attack pushes if I serve heavy backspin - so I don't. Alternatively, if my opponent is defensive (or a retriever, etc) then I'll serve long and get into the rally that suits us.

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PostPosted: 16 Feb 2018, 07:54 
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I used to. Mostly a super tight safe (low/short to halflong/non attackable) serve that has a different exit angle from your body than normal. You still need to be able to keep it super tight under pressure.

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PostPosted: 16 Feb 2018, 08:50 
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I hate playing doubles. One of the reasons is the serve. I try to keep to keep them very short, very little spin, to avoid putting my partner in trouble. I have quite a good percentage of wins in the league (75% ish), but it's much harder with rec players, unless I can really depend on my partner.

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