NCAA Changes Update; My Kalamazoo 18s Recap; US Boys Play Korea for ITF 14U World Junior Tennis Championships Saturday
I was hoping to post the names of those receiving US Open Junior Championships wild cards, but I haven't yet received the release from the USTA. I assume the players have been notified, but until I hear from the USTA, I don't have a complete list.
I gather the USTA has been busy today writing a letter, in conjunction with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, to protest the changes to NCAA Division I dual matches. (For more on that, see this statement from the ITA). Since I wrote on this topic on Wednesday, there has been a huge outcry, not just from Division I coaches and players, but from tennis fans in general. The Facebook group created this week by Evan King of Michigan and Bob van Overbeek of Florida is now approaching 6,000 members, and they have scheduled a twitter rampage for Saturday at noon eastern where the use of the hashtag #savecollegetennis directed toward @ncaa, @ncaatennis and @ustacollege10s is hoped to further raise the visibility of their opposition.
Mainstream media, which has never shown much interest in college tennis, has also acknowledged the firestorm this NCAA Tennis Committee report has generated, with the New York Times' Straight Sets blog and USA Today posting articles on the backlash from student-athletes. Courtney Nguyen at si.com made it the first entry in her daily tennis post. Former college stars John Isner and Somdev Devvarman have come out against the changes, and Isner's coach, Manny Diaz of Georgia, has been the most outspoken and active of the top Division I coaches in the social media surrounding this.
I spoke today with David Benjamin of the ITA today, and he clarified a few questions I had. First, this is only for dual matches and only for the NCAA Division I tournament. The NCAA has no power to legislate these changes for the regular season or for ITA events. The individual NCAA tournament is not affected. Secondly, the NCAA Division I tennis committee has not yet turned over their recommendations to the NCAA Championships committee, and has agreed to discuss them again in a conference call they have scheduled for early next week. I think it's fair to say, that while the committee may have anticipated some grumbling about the changes, they were not prepared for the breadth and depth of the opposition to them. But they are not obligated to modify any of these proposals at anyone's behest, including the USTA and the ITA.
Although I am sincerely sorry that these ill-conceived format changes were ever proposed, there has been a silver lining in the dialog that has sprung up around them. I agree with John Isner. If it isn't broke, don't fix it. Yes, TV coverage would be great, but it's not worth this kind of upheaval.
I've spent an inordinate amount of time on this issue, but I have been doing my regular job as well, and my recap of Dennis Novikov's two titles at the Kalamazoo Nationals is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.
On Saturday, the USA boys team of William Blumberg, Michael Mmoh and Francis Tiafoe will play Korea for the championship of the ITF World Junior Tennis competition for 14-and-under players. Korea, which won the title last year, features DuckHee Lee, who you may remember from winning the Eddie Herr 12s despite being deaf. In fact, Mmoh and Lee are likely to face off in the No. 1 singles match, which is a rematch of the Eddie Herr 12s final in 2010. YunSeong Chung and ChanYeong Oh are the other two players representing Korea.
The US girls, who were seeded first, ended up in seventh place after beating Canada today. The team of Nicole Frenkel, Tornado Black and Emma Higuchi lost to unseeded Slovakia in the round robin deciding match and No. 3 Australia in one of the 5-8 matches. Slovakia will take on No. 2 seed Great Britain in the girls final on Saturday.
Complete draws can be found here. The ITF junior site has a recap of today's results.