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What are the rules when playing doubles? If the serving player (or the one receiving the serve) is naturally positioned at the baseline, should his/her partner be at the net (or more generally, at "the front")? If so, is it a requirement or simply a "best practice"?

I'm asking because I prefer to always stay at the baseline, but I'm often pestered by my partners who insist that I go to the net when they are serving (or receiving the serve).

PS: I'm not asking whether my choice is "strategically" the best, but rather whether it is a allowed by the official rules.

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In general, only the server prior to the serve is constrained on where to stand. Other players may stand anywhere that does not interfere with their opponent.

Yes, you don't want to distract your partner, and strategically you don't want to abandon the net. But there is no rule prohibition on standing back when your partner serves.

From the USTA Friend at Court Rules:

  1. Hindrance

...

Case 5: In doubles, where are the server’s partner and receiver’s partner allowed to stand?

Decision: The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may take any position on their own side of the net, inside or outside the court. However, if a player is creating a hindrance to the opponent(s), the hindrance rule should be used.

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