At the ITA convention this past weekend, the decision to retain the format previously approved for college tennis this summer--no-ad for singles and doubles, with three doubles matches decided by one six-game set, and six singles matches with best two out of three sets--was approved by the ITA Operating Committee.
It appears the originally approved clinch/clinch rule, which would leave singles matches unfinished when a team reaches four points, has been amended to require completion of all singles matches, although conference rules still take precedence.
Although the NCAA is barely mentioned in the release below, they hold the keys to the format played at the spring championships in May, and when tabling this format the first time back in September, they asked the NCAA Tennis Committee to provide more input from student-athletes, who were to be surveyed on the format issue. I have not heard if that survey has been completed and provided to the NCAA Championships Cabinet, which is meeting in February to decide whether to approve the format change for the 2015 Championships.
Since the ITA announcement, I have spoken with dozens of college coaches and others about the format change. I have tried to keep an open mind, but I am unconvinced that no-ad will in any way enhance college tennis. I believe the win-by-two scoring in tennis is fundamental to its integrity and that adopting no-ad will deemphasize many of the physical and mental factors that make tennis so compelling. It favors one style of tennis over another, and presumes that it will shorten matches, although no hard data to support that has been released.
As I said back in August, I will not travel to cover this format, as I personally do not enjoy watching it, and as an independent journalist, I have the freedom to make that decision. Although I am not optimistic, I hope the no-ad proponents will find the casual fans they are looking for with this change. But this avid fan is saying goodbye to Division I tennis.
The full ITA release is below: