Playing Back! (Video)

Paribas Open, Indian Wells, CA.

In this week’s doubles tactic we’re going to look at the “Defense” concept of playing back with your partner when receiving serve and the situations that go with it. And we’ve got some great examples to share with you which we shot at the Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA. The Indian Wells tournament is one of the best venues in the world to watch the pros play and one of the few tournaments where both the men and women are there at the same time.

So what are some of the reasons why you’d want to play back with your partner? Here are just a few to consider:

1)  Your opponent has a huge first serve and you’re having trouble getting the ball back into play.

2)  You’ve got an active netman in front of you who’s poaching, cutting off your returns and smacking them at your partner.

3)  You didn’t get a good warm-up before your match and you haven’t quite found your timing or your game space yet.

4)  Or maybe you just want to mess with your opponents and give them another look!

Remember, rumor has it,  “it’s a game”, right?  And – you always have choices.  If you’re not getting close to breaking serve, play back with your partner, take off some of the pressure in hitting that good service return and get the ball into play. Once the serve is returned and the ball’s in play, you have a chance to win the point.  Here’s where you rally, work the ball, slow the game down, be patient and give your opponents the chance to press and make an error.

Good defense is a real art.  By playing good defense and getting your opponents away from the net, you can neutralize their offense and yes, you can change defense into offense and now gain control of the point!




  1. avatar
    Rita Wachhorst Says:

    Great video, Alan! I love seeing the game through your eyes! Defense is the part most pros ignore. Arriving for an early match a half hour from where you live can find me feeling not quite warmed up as can some clinic formats. I like the term “game space.”

  2. avatar nav-left

    Always enjoy your wonderful insight, thanks for your tips. Will definitely try them, they make total sense.


  3. avatar nav-left

    Great video Alan – I love how you break it down.

  4. avatar nav-left

    For us mature folks this playing back might enable us to better utilize our limited energy. Just kidding. It is good to have another way of looking at the game. Thanks Earl


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