Sponsored by IMG Academy

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Polite Spectators Discouraged in Big 12 Men's Play; USTA's Lake Nona Groundbreaking Held Last Week; North Carolina Women Stay Perfect Against Duke, Clinch ACC Title, Baylor Men Top Texas

When I heard last year that the Big 12 men's coaches had voted to let college tennis fans indulge in what is normally considered inappropriate behavior by the sport's spectators: noise during points, heckling, and other non-abusive disruptions, I considered attending a match this spring to see these loosened rules in action.  The fact that the Big 12 has stuck with no-ad, and the schedule didn't really work with my other commitments, kept me from doing that, but Tom Perotta of the Wall Street Journal went to last week's match between Oklahoma and Baylor in Waco and wrote this article about the experience. (For an account of the actual tennis match, see College Tennis Today.)

Last year, David Roditi, the men’s tennis coach at Texas Christian, pushed for a new policy that would let fans behave just like they would at a football or basketball game. It is now known as the Roditi Rule. It says, “Spectators are to behave under the same principles/guidelines of other sports (no profanity, vulgarity, abusive comments, etc.).”

From my discussions with coaches, I think it's fair to say not all of them view this change as a uniformly positive one, and in Perotta's article, it's clear that not all longtime fans are comfortable with it, either.  Tennis, after all, is not unfamiliar with rabid team support, as Davis Cup regularly exhibits, but the taboo of cheering during points will be a hard to overcome for many.  

One quibble I have with Perotta's article is this: In May, Baylor will host the NCAA team tournament. Traditional tennis rules will apply, so matches will be longer and heckling will be forbidden. Even so, some fans said they would consider returning.

I have heard plenty of heckling at the NCAAs, much of it from student-athletes themselves, who direct their comments at opponents in support of teammates. Occasionally the heckler will be warned, but the atmosphere is most certainly NOT akin to Centre Court Wimbledon, and it won't be next month in at the NCAAs in Waco, I can assure you.

The USTA has broken ground on its Lake Nona, Florida project, the new home of Community Tennis and Player Development, which is expected to be completed at the end of 2016.  For more on the new complex's official name, the specific configuration of the 100 plus courts, plus the other amenities, see this article from the Orlando Business Journal.

The top-ranked North Carolina women dropped the doubles point for the first time this season against No. 23 Duke, but fought back for a 4-1 win, with Caroline Price and Hayley Carter winning three-setters at lines 3 and 2 to clinch for the Tar Heels.  North Carolina has assured itself the ACC regular season conference title and the top seed in next week's conference tournament.

In the big men's match tonight, No. 2 Baylor defeated No. 10 Texas 4-1, getting the doubles point and wins from Julian Lenz at line 1, Diego Galeano at 4 and Felipe Rios at 6. Lloyd Glasspool kept the Longhorns from being shut out with a win at line 2. Recap should be up soon at the Baylor website.


Wi tennis said...

Polite spectators discouraged. That's not true. Easy with the sensationalistic journalism or Fox News might hire you!

Real tennis fans don't want to sit next to a drunk screaming in their ear during a point. said...

The screaming,heckling and taunting in the middle of a point or while they are serving is a disgrace to tennis.

Brian said...

Laughing at the new rules - hecklers screaming OUT in the middle of a point. It can't get any worse. Just kill the sport now.

Big Time said...

Boisterous crowds would make college matches more attractive for some and less attractive for others. Our players enjoy fan support, but I doubt they want anyone yelling during their second serve toss which they struggle enough with already.

But to me, one of the major premises of Perotta's story is fundamentally flawed: "These are tense times for college tennis, which is desperate to remain relevant. Schools all over the country continue to drop varsity tennis programs: About 600 have disappeared since the early 1970s, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association."

I seriously doubt that (m)any of those 600 programs were dropped because they were not "relevant" and/or drawing fans to their matches.

Outside of football and men's basketball, almost every sport at every college in America loses money. Colleges are just deciding where to allocate those losses. Back in the good ole days when men were men and college sports were for men, men's sports could absorb all those losses. Now that more women want to participate in the part of the educational mission of college's we call intercollegiate athletics, those losses need to be allocated more fairly.

So it's not at all about the relevance of tennis. The parallel to the disappearance of 600 tennis programs is the "disappearance" of all the places in the student bodies of Princeton, Yale, Virginia, Notre Dame and elsewhere that used to go just to men and now have to be shared with women.

As a Yale alumnus said after women admitted to Yale in 1969: “We’re all for women, but we can’t deny a Yale education to a man.”

Eddie Griswold said...

Baylor Men's tennis has perfected the art of getting local trailer trash out to watch their matches. They want to be recognized as a top national contender so bad, but they haven't perfected the art of acting like true champions. In my opinion, they are the 'chumps' of college tennis.

Bad frat party? said...

Let's not forget that the Baylor Coach was suspended for BAD SPORTSMANSHIP in 2011. Frankly, you lost me as a tennis fan, I don't want to watch tennis with hecklers sitting at the fence yelling and taunting while the opposing player is serving. Is this really tennis anymore? It sounds like a bad frat party.

Dan - GA said...

Simple answer with Title 9.
Mens sports have to accommodate the football team spots, and therefore other mens teams have less spots .

So... the mens $ should stays on the mens side.

And the women sports get their equal spots, but they can fund their own teams with their success.

Lupie said...

Balyor is such a classless act, coming straight from their head coach who has been suspended in the past for blatant lying where he was caught red handed. Not too promising for alleged Christian schools.


fan said...

Dan GA/ Simple but stupid answer.