Racquets Director’s Diary

Welcome back to outdoor tennis from 29th March 

Click here for a reminder of the guidelines and booking information circulated to Members last week.

Online lessons

This week’s lessons include how to be more effective with your second serve by maintaining racket head speed but altering your swing path. I also demonstrate correct doubles movement patterns when you are the net player, and cover the right position for the server when using the serve and volley tactic. Doubles court territory is also touched on.

To view please click the link below:


Effective Doubles Poaching

Poaching is when the net player intercepts a ball that is directed to their playing partner’s side of the court. If you want to improve your doubles game, then you must learn how to poach effectively. In my last article I wrote about how to master the 5 game situations to play doubles like a pro! Perhaps the most important game situation in doubles is ‘when serving’. This should be a great advantage to the serving team as it gives them the first opportunity to direct the ball (from the serve) but more importantly the first chance to poach!

There are three types of poaches for the serving team:

  • Reaction
  • Anticipation
  • Command or Signal


The server’s partner poaches by reaction when they see a defensive return and reacts by crossing and volleying at the receiver’s partner. On low returns the server’s partner should hit a low angled volley back to the receiver who is positioned at the baseline.


Doubles players often poach by anticipating cross court returns. They can do this effectively by looking at the setup/technique of the returning player. For example, the right-handed player on the deuce side may receive a body serve which forces them to move to the left to make space to play a forehand. This would make it very difficult for the return to be hit down the line. Therefore, the server’s partner can anticipate the ball will go cross court and make his move. They also consider the tactical tendencies of the receiving team before poaching by anticipation. When the server stays back their partner looks to poach the cross-court rally by moving to the middle of the court while facing the net to allow them to volley with either the forehand or backhand.

Command or Signal

Poaching is most effective when the decision to poach and the location of the serve is decided before serving. Therefore, it is so important to be able to direct your serve (for help, watch the ‘serve direction’ lesson). This allows the server to change sides knowing that his partner will poach. Players either poach by command (talking to each other) or by signal (using hand signals to indicate a poach). A poach by command can be done if the server stays back or serves and volleys. Poaching by command is safer than anticipation as the server plans to cross and cover a potential down the line return. However, to do this successfully the server and their partner must understand the court territory each has to cover when they poach on wide and T serves. To help you understand doubles court territory watch my video on ‘Doubles Movement Patterns’.

Make the effort to practice these poaching techniques with your doubles partner once we all return to the courts in a couple of weeks. Once you start to put these into practice winning your service games will be so much easier. Now you just need to break the opponents serve. Look out for tips on this in the next Recorder!

Dan Lott | Racquets Director | dan.lott@roehamptonclub.co.uk