The NCAA posted a release today on the Division I Championships Cabinet's decision Tuesday to table the format changes proposed by it Tennis Committee. According the the release, the Cabinet
It is unfortunate that the ITA, the USTA and the Division I Tennis Committee weren't able to recognize how polarizing and divisive this proposal was, even when Lin Loring, women's coach at the University of Indiana, provided a petition showing the women's coaching community overwhelmingly against, if not the format per se, the process by which it was put forth to the cabinet. That petition had been out there for more than a month, and yet the ITA, USTA and NCAA committee elected to roll the dice, hoping they could get it past the Cabinet despite the undeniable resistance of so many.
This is not a good look for Division I college tennis, which faces serious issues, as all non-revenue sports do, about its ultimate survival. That has very little to do with its format and much to do with its perceived lack of value to the school's athletic department. It was one thing to have the NCAA Division I committee go forward without the ITA's approval on the third-set tiebreaker format back in 2012, it is quite another when a) the USTA takes it upon itself to implement its own format (College Match Day) and b) the ITA Operating Committees misread their own membership so thoroughly.
I spoke to the ITA's David Benjamin on Tuesday night and he told me he would convene the Operating Committees next week (I have since learned that conference call is on Monday, Sept. 15) to decide where the format discussion goes from here. It's my understanding that the tournaments being played this weekend will adhere to the no-ad format, but the format for the tournaments after this weekend, including the ITA majors, will be a topic discussed on Monday's conference call. With little likelihood that a different format change could be approved by the NCAA Division I Championships Cabinet before the upcoming NCAA championships in May of 2015, I would expect a decision to return to advantage scoring, but I am just speculating, and hoping, since I would like to cover the All-American Championships in Tulsa next month.
I will be posting thoughts on the no-ad format from some of the top college players in the next few days, and there were a variety of opinions, but I believe another nail in the coffin on this proposal was its lack of input from the student-athletes. The NCAA has emphasized the student-athlete's role in its governance lately and any data that didn't include a professionally prepared and audited survey of Division I tennis players was not going to be sufficient to convince the Cabinet that change was in the best interest of "student-athlete well-being."
Regardless of whether I cover the men's All American Championships in Tulsa or not, I will be in Tulsa for the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed October 6-11. The acceptance lists were released today, with ITF World No. 1 CiCi Bellis heading the girls list, and Michael Mmoh and Taylor Fritz topping the boys list. Sameer Kumar, Alejandro Tabilo of Canada and Reilly Opelka are the other Top 100 boys entered. In addition to Bellis, the Top 100 girls in the field are Renata Zarazua of Mexico, Sofia Kenin, Raveena Kingsley, Katie Swan of Great Britain, Katherine Sebov and Gloria Liang of Canada, Olivia Hauger and Michaela Gordon.
The complete acceptance lists can be found at the ITF junior website.