Doubles pairs must be like the dynamic duo Batman and Robin in order to effectively play against their opponents. Each member must know his partner’s weaknesses, as well as his own, in order to back his teammate up and dominate the opposing team. Each returned shot is calculated by the team in a split second, and reacted to without hesitation.
This year, the boys doubles tennis teams plan to cooperate much like the dynamic duo in order to dominate the court and the competition. The Princeton High School varsity boys tennis team is welcoming back veterans such as Zachary Hojeibane ’14 and Zack Kleiman ’14 to play first doubles, as well as new varsity teammates Andrew Wei ’16 and Lucas Mitchell ’16 to play second doubles. These pairs are subject to change.
“There is definitely a difference between singles and doubles. A really good singles player may not be a great doubles player and conversely the same,” said Head Coach Christian Herzog. “[The] real important things are being able to go cross court very often and consistently, team dynamics like understanding your partner’s strengths and weaknesses, volleys at the net, putting points away, and finishing.”
Doubles matches involve cooperation and reactions rather than a singles game of endurance and technique.
There are also differences in strategies. “[In doubles], for instance, the court is bigger … It gives you more opportunities for angles; what it’s all about is really keeping the cross-court volley,” said Kleiman.
The older players know the ins and outs of the game and plan to polish their play for a successful season. “One thing for me in particular is my serve; especially in doubles I have to work on strategy and communication, things that can help our game out a lot,” said Hojeibane.
As for the younger pairs, they still have a lot to learn about one another and the game. “I thought that after one match I felt pretty comfortable [with Wei],” said Mitchell. Yet comfort only accounts for a small fraction of the relationship the partners develop—the rest is consistency and skill as a unit.
The upperclassmen on the team provide words of advice for the younger doubles players. Kleiman said, “With doubles, it’s a really unique thing because you form a special bond with the person you’re playing with. What I basically tell [Mitchell and Wei] is to work hard and have a good relationship with your partner on and off the court.”
One of the main things a pair needs to focus on, other than maintaining a good relationship, is not getting too overwhelmed by each another. “I don’t usually feel frustration towards Zach—I feel more frustration at myself if we are not playing well,” said Kleiman.
“The thing with doubles is that if you have someone who is too much better than you, then you just feel really bad about yourself for being so much worse. You have to pretty much be equal,” said Mitchell. “I try not to get frustrated and try [to] be positive.”
Initially, players may think that they know who they might want to play with. However, their desires are often not practical. “I wanted to play with Andrew Lin [’16] before, but we didn’t play so well together. Our playing styles just don’t complement each other,” said Mitchell.
As a result, Herzog has created a ranking system to organize the order. By having the top player play the second best player, and the second best player play the third best player, it is possible to reach median where the strongest pair comes out on top. “I try to work with different pairs and see who’s strongest to create a strong program,” said Herzog.
As for this year, Herzog and the players hope that the tennis team will be a force to be reckoned with. “I expect minimally an 800-[point] record. Most people are looking for the magic 500 number but I think we can shoot for the 750-800 range,” said Herzog.
He hopes that a whole team effort, singles and doubles, will help rack up the points necessary to reach their goal by the end of the season.
Schools such as West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North and Hopewell Valley Central High School will provide tests for the Princeton High School team, and with practice and preparation, the pairs could have a very successful season.