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DI Tennis Committee reconsiders tiebreaker proposals

Other recommendations move forward as planned

By Greg Johnson

The Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee has decided to rescind the tiebreaker procedure it had recommended last week for singles and six-all set doubles competition. However, with support from the United States Tennis Association and Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the committee is proceeding with all its other proposals that focus on reducing the amount of time it takes to complete dual matches.

The enhancements put forward, which would be effective for the 2013 championships, include:

•           Remove the warm-up with the opponent before singles and doubles;

•           Reduce the time between singles and doubles to five minutes (currently 10); and

•           Shorten each changeover from 90 seconds to 60.

The proposals still must be approved by the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, which is scheduled to meet Sept. 10-12 in Indianapolis.

The committee had considered a “super tiebreaker” for singles matches (first player to 10 points in the third set, and playing one six-game set in doubles with a tiebreaker at sixall instead of playing one eight-game pro set, but subsequent reaction caused committee members to revisit the proposals.

 “We heard the concerns,” said committee chair Cathy Beene, associate athletics director at Georgia Southern, “and we look forward in the future to working with the ITA and USTA to try to come up with formats that would make college tennis better and more fan friendly.”

Committee members and other stakeholders would like to see dual matches completed in three to three-and-a-half hours. It is not uncommon for dual matches to last four or five hours.

“We heard that from a lot of coaches,” Beene said. “That is one of the reasons we looked at these proposals.” 

Championship bracket change

Among other proposals going to the Championships/Sport Management Cabinet is  a new championships structure that will send four men’s and women’s teams to the finals site, while reducing the number of days there from 12 to eight.

If approved, this recommendation would go into effect for 2014 championships.

The proposal calls for the team portion of the tournament to begin with 16, four-team, first- and second-round sites at campuses around the country. Those winners will advance to a new regional round, which will have four teams at four campus sites in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals. Sites will be determined based on seeding.

Each of the men’s and women’s regional winners will advance to the finals site where the national semifinals and finals will take place over the first two days of the championships. The remaining six days at the finals site would be used to determine the national individual singles and doubles champions.

Currently, 16 men’s and women’s teams advance to the finals site, along with all the individual singles and doubles competitors.

Student-athlete well-being is the rationale behind the change. Under the current format, which remains in effect for the coming season, a player competing in the team, singles and doubles competitions could conceivably play 12 consecutive days. Committee members want to avoid this scenario in the future.

Selection criteria

Another recommended change involves selection criteria.

The committee is requiring singles players to compete in at least six matches in the spring and for doubles teams to play at least five matches in the spring to be considered for selection into the NCAA championships.

Currently, singles players are required to play at least 13 matches combined through the fall and spring, and doubles teams must play at least 10 matches through the fall and spring. Those are still the minimums, but the committee would like to see more of the competition balanced between the fall and spring.

Committee members believe it gives them better information when it comes time to make at-large selections.

Also, one criterion that goes into effect this season is that teams must have a .500 or better dual-match record to be considered for selection into the team championship.