Doubles: Who Covers the Lob?

Covering lobs in doubles tennis requires coordination, communication and understanding between partners.

The strategy for who covers a lob can vary depending on the situation and the positioning of the players. Let’s break down the scenarios:

1. Server Playing Serve-Volley and Lob Goes Over the Net Person:
– Who Covers: In this scenario, the rule is “over your head is yours”.
– Why: The server who has followed their serve into the net has to reverse direction to cover the lob, and it leaves both players on the same side of the court! The net person is usually in a better position to cover deep lobs that go over their head.

2. Server Stays Back on the Serve and Lob Goes Over Net Person:
– Who Covers: In this case, the server, who has chosen to stay back, is responsible for covering lobs over the net person. Since the server is already near the baseline, they are in a good position to react to the lob.
– Why: The server is better positioned to cover the lob because they are closer to the baseline and can move to hit an overhead or a ground stroke, depending on the depth of the lob. The net player, being at the net, would find it difficult to turn and run back for the lob without causing confusion or a potential collision.

3. Lob is Shallow and Net Person Can Hit an Overhead:
– Who Covers: If the lob is shallow, meaning it’s not deep enough to go over the net player’s head or within their reach to hit an overhead, then the net player should take the shot.
– Why: The net player covers the shallow lob because they are already at the net and in a position to attack the ball aggressively with an overhead smash. Taking the overhead is advantageous as it allows the team to maintain offensive pressure on their opponents. The baseline player (server or server’s partner) should prepare to cover the court in case the overhead is returned or if their partner at the net needs support.

In all scenarios, communication between partners is crucial. Calling for lobs and indicating who will take the shot helps prevent confusion and ensures the most effectively positioned player takes the lob. This coordination helps maintain the team’s defensive and offensive balance during the point.