U.S. college tennis has been going downhill for a long time. Over the years the lack of leadership has seen the institution stand by twiddling its thumbs and saying “Things are Great!” while international players take over the sport at U.S. colleges, resulting in universities cutting men’s and women’s tennis programs.
If you have to cut a sport, why not the one with no cap on foreign players, comprised of almost all foreign players?
Now this week the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced what might be the final nail in the coffin — changing all scoring at the Division I level to no-ad scoring in singles and doubles, shortening doubles to one set, stopping all matches when the overall match has been determined, and other changes to shorten the game.
Why? So college tennis can be more TV friendly.
News flash: no one gives two craps about watching college tennis on TV, and never will.
The result: the integrity of college tennis as a training ground for the pros is ruined. What top juniors want to go to college now and play no-ad scoring and shortened matches?
Virginia coach Brian Boland, speaking to zootennis.com, is on the ITA’s men’s operating committee and was the only one to vote against the new rules.
He said, “It hurts our game, I am fine with the no-ad in doubles, but this hurts us. The college coaches want to skip the hard work to get people engaged. This is not the answer at all. I am beyond disappointed. We need great leadership in the greatest game on earth. If we locate great leadership, anything is possible, but changing the traditions of our great game is not the answer.”
Translation: The people in leadership positions in college tennis have been screwing up for a while, but this is a game-changing screw-up.
“To stop matches at 4 (the clinch-clinch change) is absolutely counterproductive to developing a player,” he says. “The more matches these young men play the more productive for their development; they need to finish their matches even if the team match is over. I am concerned a couple of my guys will only play 2 or 3 matches to completion next spring. How is that positive for their development? I went to the College World Series (in Omaha) to support my good friend and neighbor and several of the games lasted over four hours, but I doubt they’re looking to go to six innings. They respect their game and have tremendous leadership. The atmosphere was amazing. The solution is to find a final site that can accommodate the number of teams (at the NCAAs). We have a circus-like atmosphere now and this like swallowing a pill to fix our problems.”
The majority of starting players on NCAA Division I teams are international players, and now scoring will be no-ad with short sets. College tennis has jumped the shark.
Scratch one more way for the struggling U.S. tennis system to develop more top pros.
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