Regardless of your style of play there comes a time when you must approach the net to play winning doubles. There are two positions that have this possibility on the court— the serve and / or the receiver. This is assuming both teams line up in the traditional one up and one back formations. The pattern today is the receiver approach. If the server and the receiver are in a cross court rally away from the net players then either position may elect to cross court approach and join their partner at the net. The example here in Doubles 102 is the receiver approach.
First, you should always be ready to move forward as a receiver. The server can hit a tough dink serve and catch you off guard sitting back expecting a hard serve. That being said, servers tend to repeat similar types of serves and locations, over and over again. Taking a weak second serve with a compact drive or chip deep to the server gives you time to get about one foot inside the service line in the defensive volley zone. Your partner who is in the hot seat should move directly forward if your return clears the opposing net player.
An exception to this would be if the server lobs consistently and neutralizes this strategy. In this case the receiver’s partner should not close in tight to the net. This balances the receivers court with two players standing one foot inside the service box in the defensive up position while the other team is one up and one back. This is a disadvantage to that team as they now have two players who can volley in front of them. And their one up one back position now is more limiting. Keep in mind that this assumes all players are around the same level. A stronger player on the court is capable of forcing errors while playing up or back and can cover their partner’s court at a high level of proficiency.
The receiver’s team while at the net tries to make their opponents play balls off groundstroke while the one up one back team is trying to keep the ball low or lobbing deep by using topspin, slice or touch to create an approach opportunity for the back court server to form a two up verses two up, a balanced court formation thereby neutralizing the court.