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In Doubles Tennis, Who Takes The Volley Coming Up The Middle?


Strategy & Tactics

In Doubles Tennis, Who Takes The Volley Coming Up The Middle?

Sometimes in doubles tennis, it can be confusing as to who should take the volley when it’s up the middle…you, or your partner? You don’t want to be a ball hog, and you don’t want to clash your rackets together – and you definitely DON’T want the ball to slip between the two of you for an easy winner!

So in those awkward moments, how do you know when you should go for the ball or leave it for your partner? When should your partner expect you to go for the ball or take it themselves?

In doubles, the dilemma in deciding who should go for the ball happens pretty often, and usually when both players are at the net. At the net, there is very little reaction time and even less recovery time – and there are no second chances.

So the question still stands…whose volley is it?

The tennis rule of thumb says that it belongs to the player who is closest to the ball or the one who has the forehand shot. But is the answer really that simple?

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Unless it’s a bullet, whoever is closer to the net at that point should go for the shot. The closer you are to the net the better/more offensive volley you will be able to hit. The ball will be higher and you’ll be able to hit down on it, and hit better angles. However, if it is a bullet, the person closest to net might not have enough time to get ready to hit it, in which case their partner should be ready to take it.

Then there’s the instance in which the partner on the deuce side has a killer sharply-angled backhand volley, which also happens to be better than their partner’s forehand volley. The opponents won’t be expecting that, so that partner should take it.

And in the case of a doubles team in which one partner is stronger and more confident than the other, sometimes it’s best that she gets the down-the-middle ball. Stronger players have a better reaction time and can do more with the ball. One thing the stronger player needs to realize is that her unsure partner will probably let most balls go by her at the net, whether they are easy or not, so she needs to be ready to make her move when that happens.

7 Winning Strategies For Doubles Tennis

I will never say this enough – COMMUNICATION BEFORE AND DURING A DOUBLES MATCH IS CRUCIAL – no matter if you are equal-strength partners or if one of you is stronger than the other. The better you know your partner’s game (and vice versa), the better a doubles team you will make. Knowing when you need to hit the ball and knowing when to let your partner to hit the ball will make your team more successful!

4.5 USTA rated/open champion level tennis player, vegan, fitness freak, animal lover, and smart ass who firmly believes that champagne is anathema for all ills. Right now I'm either up to my eyeballs in paint swatches and fabric samples, or kicking some butt on a tennis court (hopefully the latter).



  1. Elaine Kenzie

    September 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    I’m a player who plays the deuce side because I love my backhand. I go for the ball up the middle. It kills me when a lefty wants the deuce side & won’t cover the middle . Why not ??
    Because they’re covering alley !?!?
    Statistics don’t lie. Gotta cover the middle.

    • Jen Campbell

      September 4, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Hi Elaine :-) I hear ya! You gotta cover that middle!

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