Friday, March 20, 2020

Tennis Academies Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic; Structure of NCAA D-I Eligibility Relief Expected by Month End; ITF Announces Ranking Freeze; USTA Closes National Campus and BJKNTC

Tennis academies with boarding students have been faced with tough decisions in their response the COVID-19 virus pandemic, and not all have taken the same route.

Today Patrick Mouratoglou announced that all 200 boarding students at his academy in France have returned to their homes, after the country's prime minister order all "non-essential living areas" closed as of last Saturday. This article from Forbes gives the timeline and the thought process behind closing the Mouratoglou Academy indefinitely.

In Spain, which has been one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, both the Rafael Nadal Academy and the Sanchez-Casal Academy still have boarding students in residence. Sanchez-Casal's statement on their current shutdown is here. Nadal provided an open letter detailing how his academy is handling the students who remain there.

IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida also has boarding students on its campus, but their spring break began last week, and any students who left are not allowed to return. IMG is providing regular updates on the latest restrictions, and has announced it will activate a distance learning program for all students beginning March 30.

With still much to be discussed and decided about the NCAA's decision to provide an extra year of eligibility for Division I student-athletes in spring sports, this article from Inside Higher Ed provides insights from a player, an athletic director, two professors and two administrators,  including ITA CEO Tim Russell. The questions yet to be answered by the NCAA will no doubt decide how many schools and student-athletes decide to take advantage of that extended eligibility.

The Division I committee released a few minor updates today, but the NCAA release says a discussion and vote on the eligibility issue is not scheduled until March 30.

The Division III decision to extend eligibility, which may have fewer facets because it lacks athletic scholarships, was announced Wednesday.

The Division II regulation and policies, including those on eligibility, were announced Thursday.

The ITF announced today that it is freezing its rankings, including its junior rankings:

Following the extended suspension of professional tennis until Monday 8 June 2020, the ITF World Tennis Ranking is being frozen in line with the ATP and WTA rankings.

The ATP, WTA and ITF are working together to determine the fairest way to re-introduce the rankings whenever professional tennis is resumed.

The ATP and WTA rankings were frozen with matches played in the interrupted week of 9 March, including ITF World Tennis Tour matches, counting towards the frozen ranking.

The World Tennis Tour Junior rankings, the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour rankings, the Seniors Tennis Tour Rankings and the Beach Tennis World Tour rankings have also been frozen, with more details on their resumption to be provided in due course.

The USTA has not announced anything regarding their junior rankings, but they do have a FAQ up now and it sticks to the April 20 date for additional decisions. The National Campus in Lake Nona and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York are both closed through March 29.

After initially planning to hold the USTA annual meeting at the end of the month remotely due to the pandemic, it has now been canceled, with the Governance committee and Annual Meeting of voting members held primarily via proxies.


Jon King said...

Most of these academies will be changed forever, and some closed or scaled back. The parents who lose their jobs, businesses, and stock market fortunes will scale back on spending where they can. Expensive tennis academies are one of the items that will be cut. Flying all over to play ITFs will be lessened. The pro tour will have a tougher time getting sponsorships from companies whose earnings are hammered by this situation. Expect tennis to look different on the other side of this. Some players, juniors and mid level pros, will not have funding to continue their careers. The purses will drop. Some spectators will discover other interests during the layoff. I have a feeling the days of $3-$4 million per winner of grand slams may be gone.