Choosing the right doubles tennis partner isn't all that different from finding a good match in the dating world--there are a variety of factors involved that can influence the success of the relationship. And make no mistake--a doubles tennis partnership is a relationship, one that requires time and cultivation in order for it to reach its full potential. And like any other relationship, there will always be a certain degree of trial and error before things click, but if you want to put the odds in your favor, below are some of the key qualities and characteristics you should look for when choosing your ideal doubles partner.
1. Compatible Style of Play
Please note that "compatible" does not always mean "similar." Believe it or not, you don't need a doubles partner whose playing style is basically a carbon copy of yours--in fact, this can be a limitation. Think about it: If both of you have the exact same playing style, that means your strengths and weaknesses will be similar as well; this can create gaping holes in your collective game.
What you're looking for is to eliminate weaknesses by finding someone who is strong in an area you might be weak, or vice versa. If you're a power hitter but not all that quick, you need to find a player who's faster than you, and can add some finesse shots into the mix. If your backhand is weak, find a partner who loves playing the backhand side of the court. Again, it's all about eliminating weaknesses. As the old saying goes, opposites attract, and when it comes to doubles tennis, opposites often make a very hard-to-beat team.
2. Compatible Personality
While having a contrasting style of play can be helpful, a doubles partner whose personality constantly clashes with yours is a recipe for disaster. For example, if you prefer to maintain a quiet focus while you play, you're not going to do well with a non-stop talker. While you may be able to get through a few matches with a partner whose personality is like sandpaper to yours, eventually your team chemistry will go kaput.
3. Good Communication
As a doubles team, communication is the most important weapon in your arsenal. Each person's communication style is going to be a little different, so you have to find a way to stay on the same page throughout the game. An ideal doubles partner should be willing to keep the lines of communication open, even through those inevitable times of frustration during intense matches.
4. Good Attitude
You know how miserable it can feel to blow an important point, and you don't need a doubles partner who will add fuel to the fire by blasting you for it. Being quick to forgive mistakes is one of the marks of a mature doubles player. Not only that, but your ideal doubles partner should have a "team first" attitude, which means they avoid selfish tendencies that cause them to make counterproductive decisions during matches.
Finding the right doubles partner takes time, and there's no guarantee you'll find a perfect fit right off the bat. Try playing with a variety of partners to see which style of play will be most compatible with your game. With enough patience and practice, you should be able to create a doubles partnership that will be mutually beneficial and enjoyable.