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DI Tennis Committee recommends changes to reduce length of matches

No-ad scoring will be part of proposal

The Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee, in collaboration with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and the United States Tennis Association, is recommending several changes to reduce the length of championship matches.

The recommendations from the committee’s July meeting include all matches being played with no-ad scoring, effective in the spring of 2015. For example, in games tied at 40-all, the player who wins the next point will win the game.

After months of coordinated discussions, experimentation, research and vetting with college coaches and administrators, the committee concluded that reducing the overall length of play will enhance student-athlete well-being and increase the level of excitement of the matches, making collegiate tennis more fan-friendly.

The ITA is also adopting these format changes for its regular-season matches. All recommendations made by the committee must be approved by the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, which is scheduled to meet Sept. 9.

“We’ve known for quite some time we needed to make a change,” said D.J. Gurule, chair of the committee and head women’s tennis coach at Gonzaga University.  “Sometimes even a good change is a difficult one, if only because of unfamiliarity. We’ve worked collaboratively with the USTA and ITA, experimented with formats, had many, many hours of discussion and reached a consensus.

“The ITA is adopting these format changes for the regular-season matches, and we believe it is the right thing for the championships,” Gurule continued. “Some student-athletes compete for 11 of the 12 days of the tournament, which includes competing in both singles and doubles matches on the same day. Currently, some team matches might last five to six hours, and something has to be done. It’s tough on the student-athletes as well as the fans.”

David Benjamin, the executive director of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, was pleased that a collaborative approach was taken with the goal of enhancing the sport.

“The ITA has worked closely with the NCAA tennis committee and the USTA on this most important issue,” Benjamin said. “We look forward to continuing to work together to promote and grow the sport of college tennis.”

In the team championships, three doubles matches will be played with no-ad scoring, with each match consisting of one set to six games. A tie-break will be played at 6-all.

Following a 10-minute intermission, six singles matches will be played with no-ad scoring, with each match consisting of a best two-out-of-three with tiebreakers at 6-all.  In addition, there will be no warm-up with an opponent once the players have been called to the court for the start of the match.

As in the past, the matches will be played “clinch/clinch” – when the doubles point is clinched, the remaining doubles match is stopped. And in singles, once the team match has been clinched, any remaining singles matches will be stopped.

For the individual singles and doubles championships, all matches will be played utilizing no-ad scoring. In doubles, matches will consist of the best two-out-of-three sets, with a match tiebreak in lieu of the third set.

In addition, the winners of the singles and doubles championships will continue to earn opportunities for wild card entries into the U.S. Open.

USTA player development staff believe student-athletes will continue to develop in the college setting by learning to play in highly competitive situations where each point counts.

“What an exciting time for college tennis,” said Virgil Christian Jr., the USTA senior director of marketing/facility development and collegiate tennis. “Increasing the relevance and profile of a varsity tennis match on campus is vital to the sustainability and growth of the sport. These changes will play an instrumental role in accomplishing this goal – and will draw more fans.”