In my opinion, the return of serve in doubles tennis is much harder than it is in singles as not only do you have to worry about where and with what type of spin the server is going to hit their serve but you also have to consider where the server’s partner is and whether they are likely to intercept your return.
This is why it is important that you mix up the type of returns you hit in doubles tennis so you keep your opponents on their toes.
Below I will summarise some of your options when it comes to your return of serve in doubles tennis.
7 Return of Serve Options in Doubles Tennis
1. Cross Court and Deep Return
This return of serve option is probably the one you will use the most as it is a high percentage play that will mean you will make a lot of your returns and is a good option to use on crucial points where you don’t want to give your opponents an easy point by making a mistake off your return of serve.
The only time you will have issues with this type of return is if the server’s partner is an aggressive net player who likes to poach often.
If this is the case then you may have to switch to hitting the odd ball down the line or by lobbing the net player as if you always hit the ball crosscourt then the aggressive net player is going to intercept a lot of your returns.
2. Passing Shot Down the Line Return
As mentioned previously, hitting a passing shot down the line can be a good option if you are playing against opponents who like to poach at the net.
However, I would not recommend that you use this option for the majority of your returns as it is a higher risk strategy than hitting your return crosscourt and deep as the net is higher down the line and a good net player can quickly make you regret going for this option.
Instead, I would recommend only using this option occasionally so that you keep your opponents honest so they don’t start poaching crosscourt balls on every point.
I also look to hit a down line passing shot early on in a match as I have found that if it is successful then this will reduce the number of times my opponent will poach as they are worried about me beating them down the line again.
This also has the added benefit of making my crosscourt returns easier as my opponent is covering the down the line shot too much so they have little chance of getting to my crosscourt shots in time.
3. Directly at the Net Player
Similar to the last option, you also have the option of hitting your return directly at the net player.
However, I would only recommend this option if you are playing against someone who you know to have a poor net game as you will likely get punished if you hit your return directly to a good net player.
I rarely use this option myself as I think it is too easy for even a so so net player to block your ball back.
4. Lob Cross Court and Deep Return
The Lob Cross Court and Deep Return is a good option if you are playing against a team with a very aggressive net player as you are taking them out of the equation and putting pressure on the server to hit a good second ball from the baseline.
Although this can be a good strategy to use, it can be difficult to be consistent with it especially if your opponent has a good serve as you may hit your lob long or hit your lob too low so the net player ends up hitting a smash winner.
5. Lob Down the Line Return
The Lob Down the Line Return has the same benefits as option 4 except it has the added benefit of making your opponents switch the side of the court they are on.
This is something that your opponents may not be comfortable with and if you are a beginner’s doubles player then your opponents may not actually switch which will leave the other side of the court wide open for you to hit an easy winner.
The big downside to using this return strategy is that it is a riskier shot as you have less court to hit into down the line so you are more likely to make an error off your return.
6. Chip and Charge Return
The Chip and Charge Return is something you see less and less of, even though it is quite effective at the recreational level.
This may be because you need good footwork, timing, and hand skills to consistently hit a good chip and charge return.
However, if you can consistently pull it off then it is a great returns strategy as you are taking time away from your opponents, putting them under a lot of pressure, and leaving them very little time to think.
7. Short Angle Cross Court Return
Similar to the chip and charge return, a Short Angle Cross Court Return is a good way to take your opponents out of their comfort zone as they are forced to come to the net to deal with your return.
This is especially a good doubles return strategy to use if your opponents are playing a two back doubles formation.
The only real downside to this strategy is that you may hit more errors off your returns.