I have heard it said many times “a good doubles partner has all the shots”. And while having a wide array of arsenal in your bag gives you an advantage, it is only useful at the appropriate time. I’ve seen it a hundred times, the partners who hit one ball and come charging to the net like raging bulls. It has been said that the first team to the net has the advantage. It is true if you came in on the right return. Did you give me a ball that I can easily hit a deep lob with or line drive the ball right down the middle at your feet? Much of what rounds out a good doubles player is timing. In order for you to succeed at the net you must hit a ball that throws your partner a bit off balance like maybe a drop shot, a deep ball with top spin, pace or an out wide ball that puts them on the run. Tennis is about knowing when to hit that low percentage shot and when to stay out of trouble. Trying a shot down the line on 40-30 is not the way to get it to deuce. This is an example of playing the percentages. If I only make that shot one out of five times, it wouldn’t be wise to try it on such an important point. It can also work in your favor. If I am successfully poaching and my opponent hits one good shot down my line, that’s when you play the percentages. If my movement at the net is causing my opponent to take a chance at those low percentage shots and make errors than I have accomplished my goal. We all work on our strokes at practice. We play out points with our teammates; do drill after drill but do you think about your shot selection? It is not an easy task to make that last second decision about what will make a successful shot. If it can be successfully done, you have just one-upped your opponents. How many times have you or your partner miss-it a ball and said “Oh my gosh, I couldn’t decide what to do with that”! It is a common theme. Next time you’re on the court try and prepare your mind for what might come your way and what you will do with it. Many times I like to my partner with making this decision. For example, if my opponents have just hit a deep ball to my partner and I see that they are coming up to the net, I will communicate with her to lift the ball meaning LOB! This communication between partners enables your partner to think about one thing, execution. Next time you’re on the court, remember to play smart. It’s not just about who can get to the net first or who hits the ball the hardest, it’s about selection and execution.