| By Brian Coleman


While tournament tennis players have been competing in singles and doubles over the years, there is a great mix of these two games, all rolled into one: One-On-One Doubles, the crosscourt serve-and-volley singles game including the doubles alley.

For decades, top ATP/WTA professionals have played crosscourt, serve-and-volley points to prepare for their doubles matches. What this game can achieve for you is to obtain all-court confidence. It is a player's transition game that can make the winning difference, and playing One-On-One Doubles takes the fear out of coming to the net.

“I strongly encourage all of my John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) players to compete in Ed Krass’s One-On-One Doubles circuit whenever it’s available,” said Mike Kossoff, Director of JMTA Long Island. “There is nothing else quite like it. I love how it puts players in uncomfortable situations and enables them to overcome adversity. Ed has been a positive influence on my personal tennis career, so to have my players experience his knowledge and enthusiasm is a dream come true.”


Improving Your Transition Game

A player's transition game is always a work in progress. In One-on-One Doubles, players will find themselves hitting more midcourt volleys, half-volleys, quick volleys and overheads than in their singles and doubles matches. The discipline of the crosscourt placements and creativity of using angles, the middle, lobs, volleys and well-placed groundstrokes add to the game’s challenges.


Is it easier to serve-and-volley with this crosscourt game than on the full singles court?

Yes and there lies the beauty in playing One-On-One Doubles. Players start to see more and more successful conversions of their serve-and-volley and return-and-volley game. This crosscourt singles game will teach players how to get to the net more. It’s a singles game that improves your doubles skills. Playing this game may provide more of a challenge. Players can tell themselves that they are playing to win as opposed to playing not to lose when competing. Too many doubles teams are playing not-to-lose when playing one up one back all the time. More One-On-One Doubles sets will naturally force players to just go and make their first volley.


Master the Volley Game

The midcourt volley is the key transitional shot in One-On-One Doubles. Players have to train themselves to charge forward, from the baseline to the service line, after serving and sometimes after returning. When both competing players engage in a quick volley exchange, a player's reflexes, technique and strategy are all on display. Learning how to volley with the natural flow of the body will allow for smarter directional placements when competing. Playing this format also helps players establish the variety and alternative game plans when needed.

I first learned the game from the practice match play drill we used at Clemson University under Coach Chuck Kriese; many called it "Ghost Doubles". As the Men's Assistant Coach from 1984-1986, I saw how powerfully effective this crosscourt, serve-and-volley singles game had become. Players were able to compete in practice sets to where the serve-and-volley became second nature and to where the midcourt volley became second nature. Ten minutes of quick volley practice sure made the doubles hands hard to beat. The concrete results were undeniably successful.

I later asked myself if women could have similar success. I was soon to find out as I was lucky enough to get the job as Head Women's Coach at Harvard in the summer of 1986. The team's secret sauce of playing One-On-One Doubles, a few times each week, contributed to our team's Ivy League titles.

Knowing how impactful this game and drill had been for my players, I thought it would be exciting to launch the very first prize money tournament in Tampa, Florida in 2004. I recognized nobody wanted to play with a ghost, so I named the game One-On-One Doubles Tennis.


Tournaments Are Advancing the Game

My first tournament registrant in 2004 was a player named Peter Doohan and the rest was history! Peter upset Boris Becker at Wimbledon in 1987. I first met Peter and his doubles partner, Tom Cobb, in a match at the USTA Men's 40 & Over National Doubles tournament in Savannah, Georgia. A few months later, I launched my first One-On-One Doubles tournament. Peter wrote me a nice letter saying that he was excited to see someone finally put this format of play out there, and that he wanted to be part of the game's history. Even though Peter lost in his second match, he had made a world of impact. His participation and support gave me the confidence to move forward with more tournaments and capture a niche market of players that would enjoy competing in this format..

"What I love and appreciate about One-On-One Doubles is both the ability to isolate specifics of the game both technically and tactically combined with the fun factor of tournament competitions that provide lots of movement, action, and seeing players development in a new comfort zone,” said Whitney Kraft, Director of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “Not to mention the DJ factor of music energy!"


Enjoy the Challenge

Here is your chance and your players' chances to develop their all-court game, all-court confidence and serve and volley skills with the secret weapon called One-On-One Doubles.

“I have had a great time playing in the tournaments,” said Jared Palmer, 2001 Wimbledon Doubles Champion. “The format is a lot of fun. I had so many great points where I had to pull out every shot in the book to try and get an advantage. Players of all levels should get out and play One-on-One Doubles.”



Brian Coleman

 Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at brianc@usptennis.com