Will playing singles help your doubles game? I am on a mission to find out. With the advent of the USTA 40+ league and it’s dearth of singles players in our area, I have been pressed into service to play singles more than a few times. This has led to my quest to explore the (under) world of singles tennis and see what it has to offer an old doubles player like me. Here’s what I have learned so far.
Your Ground Strokes Will Improve
This is the theory, anyway. Is it true? Well, let me put it this way: if they don’t, you won’t win any singles matches. You have to hit a least twice as many ground strokes in a singles match, so you get a lot of practice from the baseline. Practice makes perfect, right? I have to say, I have enjoyed whaling away at the ball from the baseline. With a little top spin and luck, more and more of my shots are starting to land inside the lines. My service return and baseline shots in doubles have improved, as a result. Followed up by a killer drop shot, of course!
Your Serve Must Improve
You also have to hit twice as many serves in a singles match vs. a tennis doubles match. A well placed, stronger serve will, and must, be developed in order to compete successfully. Stepping up to the line and pulling off the perfect serve is such a magnificent experience that you will start to crave recreating it. Your serve will become your weapon and you will look forward to using it to destroy your opponent. Okay, maybe I got a bit carried away there, but your serve will get stronger. Because it must get stronger!
Your Fitness Has to Improve
I would say a tennis doubles match compares to a singles match like a 3K race compares to a marathon. Put another way, your fit bit might get to your goal in a doubles match. In a singles match, your fit bit will probably explode. While your body might not like playing singles every day, a couple of times a week will get you in shape, fast. I look at it as the ultimate in multi-tasking: having fun, improving my tennis doubles game, and getting in a great work out all at once. If I happen to win, that’s just frosting on the cake. Oh, and, yes, you will burn a lot more calories so you get to eat more cake!
Your Mental Game Should Improve
There’s no one with you on your side of the net to get all the “Yours!” shots you usually make your partner track down. You have to figure out pretty quickly your opponents strengths and weaknesses so you don’t get run all over the court. If your opponent does start to run you around or hit winners, you have to figure out why. Are your shots too short? Is her forehand too good? Then you have to take that hard-earned knowledge and use it against your opponent, not yourself. I love this mental aspect of tennis. Digging deep to figure out a way to win. Nobody to blame but myself if I lose. A nice pat on the back if I some how manage to pull out a victory. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.
So, do I think playing singles helps my doubles game? Definitely! My partner would probably say yes, too, although she prefers playing doubles. As for singles, it’s a different game and it’s all up to you. Try playing singles and see if it helps your doubles game. Let me know what you think.