Doubles is like a marriage.
You need a partner with the same commitment level as you, someone who makes up for your weaknesses, and someone you trust. For me, first things first, I have to like my doubles partner, I have to want to get drinks with him after the match, and he has to be the kind of dude I would be happy to hang with at Nationals.
Commitment. There is a monetary, time, and trust commitment to strong partnerships. You won’t hear me say, “You must take private lessons or you will not be successful!” BUT… I do think private lessons are helpful when you and your partner do them together. You want someone who will show up more often than match day (if that’s also your goal). You and your partner should share goals and both be willing to do what it takes to accomplish those goals. Getting on court with your coach more often allows you to develop better chemistry and problem solving skills. Be sure before you team up you talk about what you both want to gain out of your time together. The quicker your team can implement a winning strategy and learn the game plan the better!
Makes up for your weaknesses. When looking for the right partner pick someone who compliments your game. For instance, if you like to set up the point from the baseline, then pick a partner who is comfortable at the net! Someone who likes to poach and is comfortable finishing points. Teams composed of players with similar strengths and weaknesses get exposed. **NOTE: If you don’t know what your strengths and weaknesses are, it’s time to get with a coach and figure it out.** Knowing is half the battle! I’ve coached really good aggressive players that when they play doubles together fall apart against great lobbers or teams that are able to beat them to the net (like serve and volleyers). I’ve also worked with players that never miss from the baseline and defend unbelievably well, but can’t put anything away… Really good offense Beets good defense at the next level.
Trust. You want a partner you can count on when times get tough. As a tennis player you are going to have good days and bad days. A good partner is someone who doesn’t shrug their shoulders at you or avoid talking to you after a bad shot. You both have to laugh it off, high five, think positively, and move on! A tennis match is a marathon not a sprint. No matter how bad a game, series of games or even a set … the match is not over until it’s over! It doesn’t matter if you win by a point or 6-0, 6-0, a win is a win. Finding a partner that is not scared to talk to you when things are going bad, keeps you focused when things are going well, compensates for your weaknesses, has the same level of commitment that you do, and wants to join you at lunch after the match makes all the difference in the world.
Good luck and choose wisely.