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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

US Open Men's Wild Cards Announced; Whitney Kay, Farris Gosea Win Titles at ITA Summer Championships; NCAA Format Changes Coming?

 The USTA announced the men's wild cards for the US Open today. Several of the recipients were already known, including Dennis Novikov and Steve Johnson, and 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt, who had received the Australian reciprocal wild card at the French and a discretionary wild card at Wimbledon, was expected to receive one.
Others receiving main draw wild cards are James Blake, Rajeev Ram, Denis Kudla, Jack Sock and Guillaume Rufin of France. Rufin's wild card is via the trade with the French Federation.

Ram, 28, was the next US player in the rankings who did not get direct entry. Prominent names who did not receive main draw wild cards, but are in qualifying on their own ranking are Robby Ginepri, Alex Kuznetsov, Wayne Odesnik, Bobby Reynolds, Tim Smyczek, Ryan Sweeting and Michael Yani.

The qualifying wild cards for the men were also announced. Alexios Halebian was guaranteed a qualifying wild card for reaching the 18s finals in Kalamazoo, and there is another wild card still to be granted to the winner of the US Open National Playoffs this weekend in New Haven. The remaining men's qualifying wild cards:

Chase Buchanan
Christian Harrison
Bradley Klahn
Dan Kosakowski
Mitchell Krueger
Tennys Sandgren
Rhyne Williams

The complete release from the USTA can be found at the US Open website.

The ITA Summer Circuit finale wrapped up today in Bloomington, Indiana, with University of Illinois rising sophomore Farris Gosea and University of North Carolina incoming freshman Whitney Kay taking the singles titles, and with their victories, receiving direct entry into the main draw of the ITA All-American tournaments in early October. Gosea defeated Samuel Monette of Indiana 7-6, 6-0, while Kay beat teammate Caroline Price, a longtime junior rival, 6-4, 1-0, ret.

Tennessee's Hunter Reese and John Collins, the latter a recent transfer to Tennessee from Maryland, took the men's doubles title and an All-American main draw wild card. The women's doubles title went to Nebraska's Mary Weatherholt and Iowa's Katie Zordani.

For complete coverage of the tournament, see the ITA website.

My twitter timeline has been full of debate regarding the rumored changes for the NCAA Division I tournament, but as of yet, nothing has been released by the NCAA.  Georgia men's coach Manny Diaz tweeted that the changes will "kill our college game as we know it today."

Again, there is nothing in writing, but changes are believed to be reduction of doubles to a six-game set, with the singles decided in a a super tiebreaker if there is a split, with the goal of shortening the matches.

I don't care for the super tiebreaker and never have, with my objections roughly the same ones former Clemson men's coach Chuck Kriese voices in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.  I have learned to live with and even appreciate the 8-game pro set (which Kriese also dislikes), but I could never support dual matches decided this way.

From what I heard from coaches in Kalamazoo last week, none of the top Division I programs were consulted prior to this change, and that it emanated from administrators in the NCAA, as well as the tennis committee.

I'm starting to get déjà vu here after the USTA Junior Competition changes, more from the method of implementation than from the actual changes.

In this case however--and maybe I'm being very naive about the cost of holding an NCAA team and individual championship--the NCAA championships are the only part of college tennis that the organization controls. They are not responsible for the rankings or any of the other tournaments and dual matches throughout the year; that is all under the control of the ITA. Certainly it wouldn't be unthinkable to have the ITA organize a season-ending tournament to decide the National Champion. Or it could be decided by polls, computers and bowl games like the BCS decides the football national championship. I'm not really advocating that, but I don't see that the NCAA is negotiating from a position of power, as they have been unable to even get their college tennis team or individual championships on the many mushrooming collegiate sports channels.

And as several college players have pointed out on twitter, how do these changes benefit the student-athletes? By making the format the same as a back draw match in a junior event, college tennis at its pinnacle will look a lot less like a professional development path, where conditioning and sustained concentration are paramount.

Once I have more information, I will provide it, probably via twitter and then this website.


chris said...

this is pretty scary for tennis. In 20 years there might only be about 50 programs that actually exist. I am so sick of changes to format and shortening matches.

Sandra Ennis said...

I do wonder what Patrick McEnroe, who has been a vocal advocate of college tennis as an ideal stepping-stone to the pros, will have to say about the proposed changes. If he does still believe in its value will he and the USTA put any pressure on the NCAA to reverse their decision. If they don't, will he still be able to justify it to would-be pros ?

Barry Buss said...

Collette, This is a done deal..Just got off phone with a div 1 coach who had their conference meeting yesterday and these changes go in to effect next year...done..and you are correct..teams and conferences do not have to follow these rules season wise but come NCAA time, this is how things will be, so it makes sense to follow protocol during the year..but these changes are in starting next year...Yikes..

Austin said...

This is ridiculous. That's really all there is to say about it.

Brent said...

Colette, who was that last night on Twitter that was defending the changes? Was that Chris Brandi, the Baylor assistant? It seemed that he was supporting the changes from the perspective of shortening matches and drawing in more spectators to matches. That is fundamentally ridiculous - college tennis is always going to attract hard core tennis fans, regardless of the format. Shortening matches will not draw in materially more spectators - and when it detracts from the development of the players, and not a single player/coach wants it (maybe other than Chris Brandi), why on God's green earth would somebody pursue this? Is there some other supporting rationale that we're missing?

Colette Lewis said...

Chris Brandi, formerly a men's assistant at Baylor and Wake Forest, left college tennis two years ago.
I haven't been told the "why" part of the changes, but I agree with you. Tennis is a niche sport that no amount of tinkering will shorten enough to please a casual sports fan, especially in college, where the entertainment options for students are vast.

Get Real said...

For that matter. Why even play the matches. Why don't they just flip a coin like at 18's natl clays with a us open wild card on the line.

At this rate between decreasing draw sizes eliminating national tournaments, ther e will be no need for the USTA. Perhaps this is the only way to get ridmof these people " promoting US tennis"

This is so bad that you can't even make this stuff up.

petition said...

on a related note - petition to amend 2014 jr changes here


a hacker said...

As I have gotten older, I spend time playing high level USTA league & certain adult tournament matches. I'm really thankful for the 3rd set match TB, especially when I'm playing younger, much fitter guys who are more talented than me. I only have to play one really good set, so I know I always have a chance. A best 2 out of 3 would be a completely different story. I can't believe I had a reason to post that on a college tennis blog.

tennis lover said...

Is there truth to what Barry Buss says or does the ITA have to meet and vote on it in December?

Colette Lewis said...

@ tennis lover
As I tried to explain in the post, the ITA has nothing to do with this. It is decided by the NCAA.

college fan said...

Imagine the difference in Daniel Nguyen's legacy under this format. He no longer has the dominant 3rd set 6-0 NCAA clinch vs. Sandgren/Tennessee. Does he even get the clinch (maybe Kecki does) & win MVP? The next year do we get to see the incredible diving forehand in the final game to, again, clinch the NCAAs vs Singh/UVA in a tense 3rd set. Plus, though not many saw it, Nguyen won a tremendous, crucial three set battle vs. Novikov/UCLA to send the Trojans to this year's final.

Seems like those incredible moments are less likely under the proposed changes

Jerry said...

This is totally ridiculous, beyond ridiculous. There are many players who's strength is great fitness and wearing down the opponent, the odds now will be against them.
I am sure players are very much against it (I know of one personally).
Tennis is a sport with the long tradition, why change the rules? What's next, smaller courts? Paddle?

BR said...

As a neutral fan who attended five days of the NCAA Team Championships in Athens this past May, I can say that a shortened format would NOT be friendly to true tennis fans. There is nothing better than settling in for some gutsy warfare.

Tennis is about conditioning and the ability to concentrate for long periods- ups and downs- momentum swings. The shortened format would really rob the players and spectators of these aspects of the sport. Most of all, players won't have to access their gut reserves (the real essence of the sport) because the matches will be so brief.

Coach said...

If the usta does not Understand the sport why should the NCAA?

Austin said...

Pretty soon our collegians will be playing sets where first to 4 wins each set.

Its a reflection of our society. The "have to have it right now", short attention span, texting/emailing/facebooking/watching tv all at the same time culture. Which I am guilty of all these things.

This seems like a move with television in mind. People who follow this site know that Brent & I are clearly some of the biggest college tennis fans in existence, HOWEVER, this sport will never be a highly attended event no matter how passioniate those of us diehards are and want others to feel the same way.

UVA leads the country and I dont think they even average 1,000 per match. Most college matches(yes there are exceptions) have 20-40 people there not affiliated with the coaches/players/training staff, etc.

How the coaches, athletic directors and administrators can let this happen is beyond me. We are just now finding out about it, but others have known for awhile. The top programs are at risk the most since it makes it easier for a lesser player to win a match now.

NCAA marketing said...

It's "Quick Start" for kids. Now it's "Quicker Stop" for collegians.

Jackson said...

I will be the first to say that as a former college tennis player that I would hate the TB for the 3rd that is proposed. Mostly due to fear and due to the fact that I'm not sure the research is out there to support that the better player wins a majority of the time.

That being said, there are a few things that are exciting that have been put forth that I'd love to know what other's opinions are...including the super regional and final four concept as well as the removal of warm-ups and shortened changeovers. I think these could be positive changes and have been clouded by the negative tide against 3rd set TBs.

And again, I am not a huge fan of the 10 pt TB for the 3rd, however I do think as college tennis fans and supporters it is time to think outside the box. And I will give the NCAA Committee credit for giving it a try--right or wrong.

How do we grow the fan base? Do we think DI college tennis could ever be put on TV--right now even the NCAA finals weren't on TV this year. That is sad--I was in Athens for much of the event, and this kind of tennis and excitement should be on TV.

So if it could be on TV, would there need to be changes to make it happen? If so, does anyone have any good ideas? I've heard a lot of criticism in the last 24 hours but not a lot of ideas! And I'd love to hear some ideas/suggestions--good and bad.

That's all...

Diablo said...

The best solution is so simple. Make dual matches a timed event like most other major sports. Doubles would be limited to 40 minutes and singles to 1 hour 15 min. Whoever is ahead when time expires is declared the winner. Instead of point penalties for time violations, an infraction would result in more time being added to the clock. Just think about the dynamics. Coaches would be forced to recruit fast starters and get rid of their grinders.

If the score is tied when time expires, a coin toss would decide who serves the deciding match point.

Just think about the new strategy which would have to be developed. The winning player would try to extend the length of the points as the losing player tries to finish off points in due haste.

cj said...

I remember playing out the 3rd set when i played junior tennis and in order to qualify for national tournaments players had to reach the qualifing round! The players around my age group consisted of players like Andre Agassi, Micheal Chang, Pete Sampras, Tood Martin, Malivia Washington, Dave Dilucia, Tommy Ho, and the list could go on as to players that made it and so many that the possibility was real. Tennis has a history and tradition that extends back many years before so many other sports....its sad that i've played tennis since the age of 5 yrs old and am 41 yrs old now and i can't keep up with the yearly rule changes of such a great sport. Nobody likes change and we all know about the tennis boom. It started going a different direction when politics started changing tradition every year! It really looks bad and the perception is that the industry doesn't know what its doing!

Diablo said...

This is just another nail in the coffin for those players thinking they can turn pro via playing college tennis.

Tennis coach/player/parent said...

These comments are all based on people who play tennis. Other people who do not play tennis would like to come watch an event that they can plan around a somewhat close approximation of time. When a match can go 2.5 or 5 hours, it's hard to ask parents to bring kids and have the ability to stay until the end. I guess if we only want people 50-70 years old to come watch matches, keep everything the same. If you want new fun fans, bring on the change. The USTA should help by focusing on grass roots, not P.D. (which is just shaving off the top talent in America and keeping them out of USTA Jr. tennis thereby making the trickle down effect of talent nullified), and get fans out to the matches. The debate that this is bad for player development is erroneous. You develop by training and practicing, under the tutelage of good college coaches, which I might ad, are some of the best in the world, much better than USTA National Coaches (What makes them so qualified anyway?) building nerves through matches, independent of scoring situations. All these things remain the same. Also, this is only for dual match tennis (only a portion of a player's overall competition diet) which is about to get way more fun!!! The players that are truly tinkering with the idea of going pro will still be playing futures and challengers throughout the year. I think all the fuss is unfounded, outdated, and our sport is dying, we need a shakeup! Just look, people are talking about college tennis now more than ever. I love the good, bad, and ugly of it all. Great to see people passionate about college tennis, good or bad.

Not Funny said...

Tenniscoach/player/parent. I think you fell off a turnup trunk and hit your head.

concerned coach said...

For anyone who believes that these changes will only have an effect on kids going pro you are wrong. I have been at college tournaments and USTA tournaments that use the super breaker and it is one of the worst changes in tennis. A lot of character is developed in third sets to all players not just the ones trying to go pro.
For all that are in favor of these type of changes I'm sure you mean well but there is much more at work here than you realize. Look at how the NCAA and even the USTA work, they want to take away opportunities not add to them. These changes will be followed by others in the coming year(s). The NCAA wants to cut the opportunity for student athletes in tennis not give them more. For all players and coaches who have an attachment to college tennis this is just the beginning of the NCAA's plans for your sport. If you do not act now they will keep taking more and more away until there is hardly anything left. If you look at their track record they do not make changes for the benefit of the student athlete.

Harry said...

Something to think about...

After doing some homework and looking at a sampling of results, it appears 80% or more of the singles matches during the dual match season are decided in straight sets. If you look at the top players who have aspirations of turning pro, this number is closer to 90%. Heck, Steve Johnson only played 1 three set dual match last year. So, are these proposed changes that big of a deal? This is a question--not a statement.

Might it be pretty cool watching 2 or 3 players all in match tie-breakers deciding outcome of a match at the same time. How would that be for pressure? (Again a question....the match comes down to 6 players versus 2)

LovetheGame said...

To build on Harry's point, don't ATP doubles players play a 3rd set superbreaker and aren't the same players pretty much still in the top 10? Best players will always perform, no matter the format.

Athens said...

Harry, you may be good at crunching numbers, but you should try attending the NCAAs and see what happens when the top teams face each other. You would have witnessed two incredible women's semis. 5 of 6 matches went 3 sets in a back & forth battle with UCLA/USC. Duke won 5 of 6 first sets, yet Florida staged a tremendous comeback & would go on to the title. These matches would have been greatly affected. In the men's semis, Daniel Nguyen won the critical match against Novikov in 3 sets. After a long battle, the experienced guy prevailed over the young guy who didn't have near the energy level he did in the first two sets. Georgia & Pepperdine staged a titanic battle with the last two matches dramatic 3 setters. You can go to The UGA website to check the coaches' reactions/quotes to all these great matchups. That's just 2012. Haven't even gotten to the 2011 finals where 4 of 6 guys matches were 3 sets. Half the girls were 3 sets too, including Embree's comeback from 0-4 down. A match TB may be dramatic, but we won't have the memorable matches we are used to watching.

Do you know how the match TB came about? The ATP and tournament directors tried to eliminate the doubles specialists, people like the Bryans, to save costs & get more top players to play dubs. The proposal was for sets to 5 with tiebreakers at 4-4. Plus, you had to be in the singles draw to play doubles. After considerable negotiations, led by the Bryans, the doubles specialists were able to stay, but they had to concede shorten matches, which again was expected to encourage the top guys to play.