For those of you who haven't seen the link I've circulated on twitter, the July report from the NCAA Division I Tennis Committee is available here.
I was sent this report by a Division I college coach, who told me it is on the public record, although I have not been able to find any reference to it on ncaa.org or ncaa.com.
I voiced my objections to these changes in last night, before I knew exactly what was being proposed, but there is nothing in the report that is substantially different from the rumors.
My objections to the match tiebreaker are so deeply held, so fundamentally opposed to what I value in the sport that it is difficult to express them, but I categorically disagree with the committee when it states "it keeps the integrity of the game in place."
Even if I were to agree with their premise that matches are too long, which I don't believe to be true, this is curing the disease by killing the patient. College tennis as a development option will no longer exist, the best juniors will bypass college, the level will drop and the current outstanding product will be turned into a NCAA-sanctioned World Team Tennis-type exhibition.
The top Division I players have clearly expressed their objections to this change, and if I were making changes, I would certainly have second thoughts if Rob Farah, Steve Johnson, Bradley Klahn, Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs did not support them. There is now a Facebook group, started by Michigan's Evan King and Florida's Bob van Overbeek, called "Official-Against the changes to NCAA Tennis," which, after one day, has 1425 members, mostly current and former NCAA Division I tennis players.
Gibbs' tweet this morning was a perfect rebuttal, in less than 140 characters:
College tennis has passionate fans, who love the game and the excitement that a dual match adds to a great individual sport. It may alienate these supporters in the name of time savings and jeopardize the legitimacy of the sport on the college level.
I am not saying this to be dramatic or to make any point, other than to express the depth of my dismay at these changes, specifically the tiebreaker in place of a third set. But I will no longer cover Division I college tennis if this is the format. It simply is not tennis I am interested in watching or reporting about. The third set is where the drama is. And even the Junior Orange Bowl 12s can deliver that.