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Friday, April 1, 2011

Coach's Q and A: Are Match Tiebreakers in Lieu of Third Sets a Good Idea?

After the discussion on this site two months ago about the USTA Mid-Atlantic section's decision to prohibit match tiebreakers in lieu of the third set, I decided to ask Harold Solomon, of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to weigh in on the issue for this edition of the Coaches Q and A.

Q. Do you like the move toward more junior competition decided by match tiebreakers rather than full third sets?

A. I understand why the USTA has gone to tiebreaks for the third set: juniors can play tournaments over a shorter period of time, which allows for less expenses and makes it easier for them to also play doubles.

I still think tennis should keep the element of fitness in the mix. Playing a tiebreak for the third set in a match takes a degree of conditioning away. I hate that a player could be playing the finals of a tournament and after doing all the necessary work to get to the finals, then has his or her fate decided by a tiebreak for the third set.

I say play out the third sets. Let players experience what it's like to play a complete match and get used to finding ways to win those third sets. Under this system of shorter events and shorter matches, juniors are still starting at 8 in the morning and with singles and doubles sometimes not getting finished until 10 at night and may still be playing the equivalent of 10 sets or more in a single day which, if you are looking for quality tennis, is ridiculous. I say keep the draws small, extend the events by one more day than they currently are, and play out the matches so that our players can get used to playing complete matches. Keep fitness as a major part of being successful in our junior tournaments.

Do you have a question for Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.