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Thursday, March 12, 2020

ITF Shuts Down All Its Events, Including Juniors, Until April 20; USTA Postpones Its National Level Tournaments; NCAA Cancels All Spring National Championships, Including Tennis

The ATP announced today that it was shutting down its tour, including Challengers, for six weeks due to the global COVID-19 virus pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the International Tennis Federation followed with its statement, saying that all events under its control would be immediately suspended and nothing would be held before April 20, 2020.  This includes all junior events, which are currently showing as "postponed" on the ITF Junior Tour calendar.

The ITF decided not to wait until the completion of this week's events, with this the directive regarding today's matches:

Matches currently in progress - including those subject to a rain delay - may be completed today but cannot be carried over until tomorrow. Any matches yet to be started today will be postponed.

Fortunately for the many Americans playing at the ITF Grade 2 in the Dominican Republic, the quarterfinals in singles were completed before the ITF made its pronouncement, and the four US boys and one US girl advancing to the semifinals will receive those points. The doubles matches were in various states of completion, and they did not finish their quarterfinals before they were order to stop. Had the semifinals been played, No. 8 seed Jack Anthrop would have faced No. 4 seed Aidan Mayo, and No. 3 seed Alex Bernard would have played qualifier Nishesh Basavareddy. The only US girl to advance to the semifinals was unseeded University of Michigan recruit Jaedan Brown, who beat No. 10 seed Hanne Vandewinkel of Belgium 7-5, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals.

The USTA has notified its National tournament directors that it is canceling all National Level 1-3 events through April 19th. The only Level 1 during that time was the Easter Bowl, which was canceled yesterday, and I don't know of any Level 2s during that time, but the National Level 3s next weekend and those scheduled for April will not be played.

Sections are making their own decisions on their events. Eastern, Texas, New England and Northern California have canceled their events through the end of the month, but Southern, Midwest and Middle States are still playing, at least as of this minute. Check the USTA or your sectional website for more updates if you have a tournament in the next several weeks. 

While the ITF and ATP (WTA is canceling on a tournament-by-tournament basis, but they have canceled Miami, Bogota and Charleston so far) could return by the end of next month, the NCAA went out much farther, announcing today that it was canceling all its spring sports national championships, including tennis. With the men's basketball tournament canceled, there was not much chance that non-revenue sports would continue, and once the NCAA decision was announced, most conferences shut down spring sports for the rest of the season. It goes without saying how devastating this is for seniors, who had no opportunity to prepare for the final matches of their college careers. I remember talking with seniors at the 2012 NCAAs about playing their final matches, and the emotion they displayed when considering that prospect was startling, even though they knew it would happen some time during the tournament. No senior ever got that opportunity to anticipate a new chapter, which may not be important in considering the big picture, but is sad nonetheless.

5 comments:

Too sad said...

People understand all the drama and emotion of March Madness, but Colette - being a person in the trenches of tennis for years - you were "startled" by the emotion seen in players competing for the NCAA Championship? For some teams and individuals, the excitement and emotion of simply qualifying to participate in the tournament is a dream come true and a line forever on their bio. THE Championship ring - one that only 10 people in the entire world receive each year - is not something a player stumbles upon. It is the pinnacle of their almost 20 year effort. The probability of attaining it is often why a player picks that college and that team. It is something they work for more than 10 years before they go to college and then spend the college years at 6am privates, 7am fitness, balancing classes with practices and competing with all they have every year. As a parent of a player that has THE ring to show for his team's comittment and effort, I understand how devastated these players feel, I am so sad for their lost opportunity. It is heartbreaking that the players of a team like USC and other top contenders just end their season so abruptly. I heard interviews where players talked about their focus being on the one thing they hadn't achieved yet - THE ring. The effort and heart put into getting here for more than a decade is real. The heartbreak now is real. The senior's season is wiped out and they aren't afforded the time to process that this very large phase of their life is coming to an end. Proper celebrations - senior match day - gone. The next two months were everything they have been working towards. Other players will lose the chance to compete at EB or slams, and they will miss a step or opportunity that they can't get back.

Yes, everyone understands that the health and welfare of all is what matters. One can completely agree with the decision or not. But losing something like this is a big deal for these players - it is very emotional - and should not be trivialized. College marks the end of true competition for many players and this is a very sad finish. For seniors, this abrupt ending to the college years is not at all how it was intended. For players, the NCAA's are not "just another tournament" and their emotions over the loss should be respected. It is the "March Madness" of tennis played in May - it is this sport's May Madness. No one should be "startled" at the disappointment these players feel - compassion and respect would be the play here.

Colette Lewis said...

I don't disagree with anything you wrote, and I hope I didn't come off as minimizing this. I searched for the right word for quite a while, and startled, although not perfect, is what I settled on. I guess to clarify, I was not accustomed to seeing that much raw emotion from college players as they reflected on their last matches. Yes, college matches, particularly at the NCAAs, are exceptionally high energy. It's obvious how much the players care about winning and losing, how much emotion they put into competing for their schools and teammates, yet their composure and stoicism in the face of sometimes crushing losses has always impressed me. I was not expecting the flood of emotion I witnessed when I asked players about having competed in their last match, maybe because I hadn't asked that question often before and had never been in their positions. I certainly learned my lesson that year and I fully expect and understand, as best I can, not being a student-athlete myself, how disappointing this is to all of them.

Becky Adams said...

too sad....come on now, a little perspective is in order. Okay, so college tennis players may be bummed the season was called off. But we have been in the junior tennis world for 12 years, most of these college players came from amazing back grounds. We saw them come up through juniors. Almost all had financially secure homes and families, best coaches, best hotels at tournaments, best equipment, tons of friends, terrific support from parents and grandparents. These kids have had off the chart great young lives. So seriously, lets put things in context. The set back of the college tennis season and tournament being called off is probably good for them in the long run as they now see real life is not the great time they had so far. Lots of tragedies in the world, this is not even remotely on the list.

Max Ho said...

I guess with no tennis going on we are back to privilege. Please consider even if someone comes from privilege these players were on the court over 1000 hours a year to get to the point of playing college tennis, and now 1/4 of the college playing experience will be gone. The best part about college tennis (and any college sport) is being so close to your team, going to battle together sometimes winning and sometimes losing together. You do the extra workouts suffering together, travel together, often live together.... Then they all of sudden shut down and your not even allowed to gather together is very rough.

The crushing part of the pandemic for everyone who doesn't actually have the virus is the loss of social interaction, for a college student to not be able to gather with friends, hang out, party... is a huge loss. Obviously this is not the same as someone who has the virus.

Just because someone had best equipment and hotels does not mean they deserve to miss 1/4 of college tennis experience. I don't understand why so many people on this blog are so bitter about wealthy people? When I played junior tennis and people had way more money than my family I never really thought about it, just tried to beat them.

J. Jackson said...

Great post Max. Anyone playing the privledge card at this time must never have had a player that gave their heart and soul to something. It's emotional to have to let this part of your life go. It isn't being selfish, it is being human, it sucks to lose this time of your life and chance at the biggest of prizes whether in college or juniors.

People love to have a place to put the blame for their own inadequacies (or that of their player). AS you said, it doesn't matter what you have or don't have - the player has to work, and has to win. Money doesn't do anything once your name is on the draw. These college players put in the work to get where they are and made a family with their team, which has been abruptly torn apart. We hear you. The best players families (that don't make excuses for anything) understand this and have compassion. Yes we all get the greater good blah blah blah, but one shouldn't deny or minimize the loss to these young people. Pulling out the "rich people have everything" montage just illustrates the lack of understanding and inexperience with players at this level.