By Jackie Resler – Tennis Pro Coach

Double Partners Pt. 1: Personality Chemistry


The benefit of playing doubles is that having the hardest hit ball or the fastest feet is unnecessary, unlike singles play. The strongest advantage any doubles team can have is superior chemistry and an understanding of the doubles game.

What makes doubles so great is that you can have a buddy with you, on the court fighting the same battle. Throughout my high school career, I had always been a loner on the court, preferring the mental exile of singles. When I entered college, I dreaded the idea of having to share the same side of the court with another person. 

When I was paired with Lera, the extremely hard-headed and cynical Russian exchange student, I thought we were headed toward disaster.  But what resulted was a near impeccable season, due to us developing great chemistry. To have good chemistry with your partner, you and your partner need to complement each other with tennis skills and personality. But for now, let’s talk about good chemistry specifically with personality between partners

But what does it mean to have good chemistry with your partner, and how do you create it? Let me tell you through my experience.

It is crucial to find someone in which their personality is compatible with your own. Lera and I found that our personalities complement each other because she is the type of person who likes to be in control and calls the shots. In contrast, I am the type of person who is more open to suggestions and will follow the lead. 

Through trial and error, we both had to analyze our team and ourselves, and we found a formula where the puzzle pieces fit. Lera is the type of person who dominates the court with her confidence and control. She likes to be the decision-maker, because she is usually quick about what her opponents do not like and what we can do about their dislikes. On the other hand, I discovered that I like to outsmart and outlast my opponent, but I liked to have someone who exhibits so much confidence. I like to be a flexible person and I listened to Lera’s ideas. 

For me, I play better when someone has the confidence to make decisions and has the confidence that I will execute what I need to do to succeed. Lera understands better about her style, my style, and the other team’s style. 

In addition, putting in the time to understand your partner and how their mind and emotions work is key. Lera has a fiery personality, and let her emotions dictate her motivation on the court. This was highly compatible with my personality, which tends to be more stable and muted on the court.  When Lera became frustrated or angry, I mastered how to calm her down and focus on the next point. And on the other end of the spectrum, she was able to energize me when I hit an emotional low on the court.

Communication is the most important part of determining all of these components.  A doubles team with aspirations of success is the same as any type of relationship. Communication is the key in relationships.  In order to have success, we had to talk about how to combat the emotional roller coaster when it gets too low or too high.  And we had to be honest with ourselves and each other on how our minds work so that we can encourage the positive aspects and fix the negative aspects of our experiences.

Having a partner whose personality can mesh into your personality well is one of the two essentials needed to form good chemistry. The personalities do not have to be completely opposites, but each person needs to help complete the other and be a team. We would not have a recipe for success if Lera and I were both trying to be the decision-makers on the court. She fit her role perfectly as I fit my role perfectly. 

So, when you are searching for a potential partner, make sure you know yourself, and are open to working with someone on such a personal and emotional level. Finding a partner will be filled with trial and error, but at the end of the day, if you find someone who is open to honesty and communication the search will be much easier. Lera and I got to know each other on and off the court so that we could understand each other. We were then able to have amazing chemistry and use our personalities to our advantage.