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USTA FL Friday Blog: College Tennis Firestorm; Weekend TV

August 17, 2012 08:39 AM
The Friday USTA Florida blog is written by USTA Florida Communications Coordinator Rick Vach


He just learned they changed the third set
in singles to a tiebreak
A firestorm was set off this week when it was discovered that the NCAA was moving forward with changing Division I college tennis' scoring format to a third-set tiebreak in lieu of a third set for singles, and making doubles matches simply a six-game set, with a tiebreak at 6-all.
Via the July report of the NCAA Division I men's and women's tennis committee, the NCAA also plans to "remove the warm-up with the opponent before singles and doubles; reduce the time between singles and doubles to five minutes; [and] shorten each changeover to 60 seconds."

So to review -- to possibly get more college tennis on TV via shorter matches, the NCAA is going to completely remove college tennis' physical component (ability to win three-set matches) and introduce a great deal of luck in determining the match result (a few big serves or net cords in the deciding tiebreak, rather than playing a third set)?

Top NCAA player Bradley Klahn said via Twitter, "It is unfortunate that in this era media accessibility and popularity trumps the best interests of those student athletes who have Sacrificed much to achieve their dreams. You can't sell your program as a stepping stone to pro tennis with super breakers for a third set."

It is currently difficult for any but the best of U.S. juniors to crack line-ups at the Division I level due to the number of international players allowed to compete (some D-I Florida school starting rosters are made up entirely of international players). Now this might be the final nail in the coffin for U.S. college tennis system. For kids who have pro aspirations, why compete in a college system so radically different than regular tennis?

These rule changes are reportedly only for the 2013 NCAA Championships, but if pushed through, many colleges would likely fall in line with the new rules. The new rules couldn't come at a more inopportune time, since as over the past few years college tennis has been growing as a developmental stage for juniors seeking a pro career, as evidenced by the success of current American No. 1 John Isner (University of Georgia), and current Top 100-ranked former college players Kevin Anderson, Benjamin Becker, Jesse Levine and Rajeev Ram, among others.

The University of Florida's Bob van Overbeek and the University of Michigan's Evan King have started a Facebook page, "Official-Against the changes to NCAA Tennis," which as of today had more than 3,000 members, mostly current and former college players who have been venting their anger.
On Friday morning USTA national released the following statement: "The USTA is aware of the proposed format changes being made by the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee to the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Championships.  Working with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), the USTA is preparing a joint opposition letter to these changes.  The letter will be distributed to the committee in advance of its Monday, August 20th meeting."


Some of Florida's top tennis players, pro and aspiring, will be in New Haven, Conn., starting today for both the start of the US Open National Playoffs men's and women's singles tournaments, and the kick-off of the WTA New Haven Open at Yale.

Coral Springs' 19-year-old Sloane Stephens, who is currently sitting at a career-high No. 49 on the WTA Rankings, got a spot in the main draw this week when Estonia's Kaia Kanepi withdrew due to an injury. The University of Florida's Lauren Embree received a wildcard into the main draw, as did Hollywood, Fla., resident and 17-year-old Sachia Vickery.

The Williams sisters are taking Cincinnati this weekend, as both Serena and Venus advanced into the quarterfinals on Thursday of the dual men's/women's event. The unseeded wildcard Venus looked in former No. 1 form, thrashing No. 7 seed and French Open runner-up Sara Errani 6-3, 6-0, and the No. 2-seeded Serena defeated Polish qualifier Urszula Radwanska 6-4, 6-3.

In the Friday quarterfinals, Serena meets No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, and Venus will face a tester against former US Open winner Sam Stosur. Also still alive in Cincy are top seed Aggie Radwanska, who survived a three-setter Thursday against Florida's Stephens, former Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, former French Open champion Li Na, and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Florida's Mardy Fish is the lone remaining American on the men's side, and in tonight's 7 p.m. match he will meet No. 1 seed Roger Federer in what ESPN's Brad Gilbert would term a "popcorn match" (as in bring the popcorn, this should be a good one).

TV times on Friday for Cincinnati are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. on ESPN 2; Saturday 1-5 p.m. and 7-11 p.m. on ESPN2; and Sunday 12:30-3 p.m. (men's final) and 4-6 p.m. (men's final).

Got your own opinion? Comment on the USTA Florida Facebook page or e-mail news@florida.usta.com to have questions answered via blog.






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