Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A fun way to practice or play tennis with three players

It has happened to us all at some point.  We have a doubles practice match setup and one player can't make it, or you are on vacation with two other guys and don't want to rotate singles.  What to do?

Play Cut Throat!  Or you might hear it referred to as Canadian Doubles or even Australian Doubles.

What is this?  It is where the three players split up, one playing singles (and covering just the singles court) against the other two who are covering their doubles court.  That isn't rocket science (how else would you get three people on the court at once?), but what is interesting is how to use the format and keep track of score.

In one format, only the singles player serves and plays normal games until they are broken and then you rotate.  Only the singles player gets a game when they win and no game is awarded if they are broken.  You do this until one player gets to 6 games.  Since the singles player is usually at a disadvantage, you can go for some time until a server manages to win 6 games.

A variation on the above is to have the singles player serve, and if he loses you rotate like above.  But if he wins, he gets the game/point, and then the doubles team serves.  If the singles player loses, you rotate like above but if he wins again, he gets the game/point and gets to serve again, and this continues.  Again, you can play to 6 games.

Both of the above don't have each player play an equal number of times as the singles player necessarily.  The singles player that wins gets to play the majority of the time there.  If you want to even out the singles play, here is a format for you.

I just played this format yesterday and you have groups of three games where every player serves, and then you rotate.  For example, doubles player 1 serves, then then singles player, then doubles player 2.  One full rotation is complete after each player has played a three game group as the singles player.  And you can do as many of these full rotations as you like.  For scoring, you simply keep track of how many times each player wins a game as the singles player and whomever has won the most after your full rotation(s) are complete is the winner.

This approach has every player getting to play and serve in each situation and equal number of times and the best player on that day should end up with the most points/games.  And it is a great way to work on different parts of your game whether you are a doubles or singles player.

Do you play Cut Throat in some other format?  Leave a comment to let folks know.