Beyond the Score: How To Take Your Doubles Game To the Next Level

By Matt Previdi

In my previous article “Getting Into Doubles” we discussed ways to take you from total beginner to regular star on the doubles court. This is often the most fun time in a tennis player’s career as they make great strides forward in a short period of time. However, once they have been playing for a while on a regular basis, many players fall into a scenario where their results stop improving, their game stalls out, and their enjoyment tapers off. Let’s talk about some innovative ways to push through what can be a frustrating and challenging time.

Matt Prevedi

One of the most perplexing things to me as a person who enjoys all team sports is how differently tennis players look at their game compared to soccer, baseball and other team sport athletes. In football for instance, there is a clearly defined role for all players on the field at one time. The team will run a play and all players expect each other to stick to that plan that was laid out. If they are unsuccessful at the play, they will make sure to run it over and over again in practice until it is perfectly executed.

Doubles players rarely do this. They allow each other to “freelance” and make choices that aren’t productive, aren’t within their abilities, or left their partner hanging out to dry. If you want to improve your results in doubles, the first step is to utilize the mindset of athletes who play other team sports. You should have set plays, focus on supporting your teammates rather than yourself, and have a clearly defined role within that play to stick to. Now both partners can be excited and ready to compete as true teammates instead of simply two occupants on the same side of the court.


One of the other major contributing factors to gradually declining results in doubles is too much emphasis on winning and not enough focus on improvement. Great players enjoy losing because it helps to highlight what they can do better and what it will take to win more in the future. Seek out things that are difficult and challenge yourself with advanced thought, movement and strategy. You will also need to make sure you are playing against people worse than you, the same level as you, and players that are better than you. You want to win against all 3 levels of players so learning which styles and tactics work against each will help you succeed no matter who you play against.

Lastly, it is a great idea to constantly challenge your teammates, coaches and friends. If they are constantly telling you to “cover your alley” an in-depth discussion (off the court of course) can help both teammates to understand what they really mean by that, why that may or may not work for you, and how we could turn it into a play for the future.

Many coaches have the “my way or the highway” mentality. Asking lots of questions and challenging their concepts will either give them a chance to convince you they really know what they are talking about, or that they aren’t the right coach for you. Keep challenging your own ideas! If you think lobbing is the only way you can win, commit to trying to win other ways when you play. You may find a skill set you didn’t realize you had before and that will help to add layers to your game beyond what you already possess.

Tennis is a sport for life, so enjoy the journey and see you on the courts!

Matt Previdi is a private and traveling high performance coach in La Jolla, Calif., where he has led the La Jolla High boys’ tennis team to an 95-19 record over the past seven years. In 2010 the USPTA named him “Coach of the Year” in San Diego, and since then Matt has helped his Father Bill pioneer “The Previdi System”, a doubles system geared towards adults who want to master the art of doubles.

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