Tactics for a Successful Mixed Doubles Season
Let’s face it, mixed doubles is different than playing one gender doubles. Not only do you have two men and two women, but often there are players of different levels (combos of 4.0/3.0, 4.5/3.5, 5.0/4.0,). The mixed doubles playing field is rarely level so it requires different tactics. While many of the double strategic principles are the same, the tactics have to change.
Hit to the Right (Weaker) Player
This is a fundamental strategy in doubles. Many people will get on the court and assume it’s the woman. We can’t say enough about how often wrong this tactic can be. An experienced female mixed doubles player is often the X factor in a successful mixed tennis team. She is typically more consistent, can block balls and have great hands, and is typically unafraid of getting hit with the ball.
Many players get out there and assume that all things being equal, hit to or at the woman. Do this at you own peril. We often find that while the male player may hit hard or with great topspin, they can be the mentally weaker player for a wide variety of reasons, such as afraid to hit at the woman, feeling like they need to cover 75% of the court, etc. We have found that focusing on the guy: low to his feet, lobbing over his head, second serving a soft ball, etc., can be a winning tactic in mixed.
Positioning, as in any doubles match has a lot to do with the style of play you and your partner like to execute. Are you serve and volleyers? Do you or your partner love the baseline? Are you a big poacher? Decide these factors first and then after a few games, reevaluate what is working positionally and what specifically you are struggling with.
For example, many women struggle with big top spin shots. If you are traditionally a player who likes to go toe to toe at the baseline, this may not work for you. You may want to take your chances coming in and taking it as a volley. Whatever you decide, let your partner know so he can alter his position on the court.
The bottom line is to not get wedded to any type of positioning if it’s not working. It’s about adjusting to what you are getting from the other side of the net through good communication with your partner.
Always, always be supportive of your partner. We know that should go without saying, but we find most players need a reminder. Mixed doubles is not an easy game to master, so be patient and make sure you are both having fun on the court.