Starting this month iTUSA will be launching monthly doubles drills with Meghann Shaughnessy, an ITUSA player since age 13. Every month she will be demonstrating the fundamentals of a successful doubles game. Meghann enjoyed a very successful singles career winning 12 professional titles including victories over world number ones Venus and Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Monica Seles. Meghann's doubles career includes achieving the number 4 doubles world ranking after winning the World Championships at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, one of her 19 career doubles titles.

This month we will be focusing on intercepting the balls in the middle of the court when you are standing at the net. It is important to differentiate between poaching and intercepting. Poaching is crossing to your partner’s side to take the ball. We will cover poaching in later issues. Intermediate and even advanced players often make the mistake of being too passive at the net by letting their partners hit too many balls that they should be taking. It is a matter of ATTITUDE and willingness to take a chance and make a mistake. By doing so frequently, you will realize how the dynamics of a match can change. You will destroy your opponents’ comfort zone and will make your partner's life much easier. The moment your opponents know that you are going to intercept the balls in the middle, their pressure to aim their shots to the corners will start increasing which will translate into many more errors, question marks and shyness in their baseline rallies.

This drill teaches you the basics of intercepting when your partner rallies from the baseline or serves. The key to remember is to always keep moving forward toward the net (bisecting the angle towards the net strap) and not sideways. The higher you can contact the ball above the net, the more options you will have with your volley. Keep in mind you will find a big gap between your opponents, so down the middle of the court is a very good and safe option. If you want to get a bit fancier, try hitting to the feet of your opponent standing at the net, but have your racquet ready as the ball may come right back at you.