Saturday, June 20, 2015

Marco Bitran - Double(s) Cross

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The net person's main job is to guard the line. She has to make certain that the ball is not successfully hit down the alley. Most of the time, she would become a little paranoid about leaving the alley to poach at the middle of the net. Normally, if the serve is fast and hit near the center of the service box, then the fear of down the line return is muted because of the angle created by the serve. However, most hackers have slow to moderate serves which are hit to the middle of the service box. This serve gives the returner confidence to go cross-court or down the line. As a consequence of the returner's choices, the net person is rendered virtually motionless against the return.

I have my own solution to this problem. I am not sure if it is an original idea, but it makes perfect sense to me. It protects against the down the lines, most of the down the middles, and most of the lobs. Only a perfectly timed down the middle or a well hit lob deep to the server's side wins outright.

The maneuver is simple, but brilliant. The server hits the ball anywhere in the service box. Before the ball hits in the box, the net person moves directly over to the server-side box. At the same time, the server moves at a diagonal so that she makes it to the middle of the back line of the net person-side box. The players cover both lines and most other shots during the transition to and while reaching their final positions. The crisscrossing of the players protects against most down the middle shots. The timing of the down the middle pass would have to be picture perfect to win the point. Of course a deep lob to the server's side would be disastrous. However, if a player could consistently make that lob shot, then he deserves to win the match.

I have field tested this maneuver and it has worked beautifully. I experienced a high winning percentage as long as the maneuver was done without compromise. Once I had a partner, who as a server, deviated from the plan and ran along the baseline in the direction of the net person's court. This deviation opened up numerous passing lanes. Even when the server reached and returned the ball, the advantage at the net was lost to the returning team. The results of his actions severely lowered my winning percentage. If you follow this maneuver to the letter, then you and your doubles partner should be difficult to beat!

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