Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Three More Division I Programs Get Axe Today; Wheelchair Tennis Added to US Open; Atlanta Men's Event with Fans Set for July; Ram's College Coaching Plan

A day after Southern Utah announced the discontinuation of its men's and women's tennis programs, two more Division I schools have cut their teams, with the University of Connecticut dropping its men's program and Northern Colorado eliminated its men's and women's programs.

Connecticut, which has had financial problems in its Athletic Department for some time, cut men's cross country, women's rowing, men's swimming & diving and men's tennis, while women's tennis continues. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today says that there are no athletic scholarships at U Conn for the men (I don't understand why, less than two weeks ago, they announced three incoming freshmen), which makes this cut even more puzzling. If all your student-athletes are paying tuition, how much does eliminating the program really save? The savings aren't broken out, but $2 million for four sports over three years is not a significant part of the athletic department budget, and yet this is what they say about fundraising to keep these programs:

Q:  How much private fundraising would allow you to keep some or all these programs?
A:  Private fundraising is not a sustainable solution. Even with a reduced number of programs for our student-athletes, fundraising will still need to be a major revenue source for those remaining programs.

In other words, women's tennis could be next in the crosshairs, if Title IX regulations allow it.

Northern Colorado, like Southern Utah, is a member of the Big Sky conference, which is quite regional in nature. But apparently the conference recently gave its members permission to cut certain sports and still retain the conference affiliation, with both programs citing that change in their decision. Northern Colorado does not have an indoor facility, and that is also given as a reason for the cuts.

The updated list of Division I programs cut this year:
Akron (W) 
Appalachian State (M) 
Arkansas Pine Bluff (M/W) 
East Carolina (M/W) 
Florida A&M (M) 
Kansas City (M)
Northern Colorado (M/W)
Southern Utah (M/W) 
U Conn (M)
USC Upstate (M/W) 
UW Green Bay (M/W) 
Valparaiso (M) 
Winthrop (M/W) 
Wright State (M/W)

De Groot won the US Open Wheelchair title in 2018 and 2019
A bright spot in tennis news today comes from the USTA, which announced that the Wheelchair Tennis competition, initially presented as canceled last week, has been reinstated, and will be played September 10-13. The announcement is below:

The 2020 US Open Wheelchair Tennis Competition will be held in its traditional place on the US Open calendar at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this September. The tournament will run from Sept. 10-13.

This decision was made following multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week. The 2020 US Open Wheelchair Competition will feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles events and quad singles and doubles events, all with draw sizes similar to past US Opens.

Wheelchair athletes will follow the same health and safety procedures as all players participating in the US Open and will be able to access the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center beginning on Sept. 7.

The ITF is carefully reviewing the impact of this evolving situation related to awarding wheelchair ranking points in regards to the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour. The USTA expects a decision to be announced in the coming days.

The ATP's summer tournament in Atlanta has of course been canceled, but the city will host a smaller cohort of players July 3-5, with the eight participants in the team event all from the United States. There will be two teams, with John Isner, Tennys Sandgren, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson on one and Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe on the other. Although they are being called the Stars and Stripes teams, they really have been divided by age.  The big news is paying fans will be allowed, up to 450 per match, making this the first event in the US that will have them, although there is a women's pro event in Kentucky that same weekend which will also have fans present.  For more on the event, called the DraftKings All-American Team Cup, see this Forbes article. Its last sentence is a cautionary one. (Update: the article has since been modified; I am talking about the Georgia Covid-19 update). 

I mentioned on Saturday that Rajeev Ram has been named a volunteer assistant at Cal; Rhiannon Potkey has more details on Ram's plans for the coming year and how he plans to work with the Bears while still competing on the ATP doubles circuit in this Tennis Recruiting Network article.


Make America Great said...

Has anybody looked at the programs cutting tennis to see how many AMERICAN players are in the lineups?

Jon King said...

Yes Make America Great, many comments have mentioned the lack of US players on many of the rosters. I agree its hard to make the case to college administrators not to cut programs if no US kids are on the teams anyway. Some of the programs cut in the last week though have had half or more US players on the teams. So obviously even having US kids is not saving college teams.

On the other hand, I am torn. We have been involved in junior tennis for 11 years now. We use hitting partners, usually college guys. Over the years its been the case that the guys from other countries are usually easier to work with. They show up on time, hustle after every ball, are respectful. Many times the US guys have been late or not shown up, can act like they are doing the junior a favor and put in little effort. Of course there are exceptions where US guys are simply amazing to work with.

Perhaps part of the problem is college coaches also find the guys from outside the US are in general easier to work with and put in more effort. Or like SeminoleG has said, the foreign kids are just older and thus more mature.

No matter the reasons, its obvious that there will be less scholarships available in the future.

Hello, time to wake up! said...

@Jon King
Are you kidding? In this day and age you are going to generalize about a certain group of players and apply it across the board? You believe all American players are lazy from your statistical sample of what, five? Maybe the Americans were smart enough to know hitting with little jr. wasn't really wasn't worth their time, but were doing you a favor just showing up. I suppose you paid the foreign players peanuts which served you well. Welcome back to 1952, frankly, I am embarressed for you. And people wonder what is wrong with tennis. ugh.

Jon King said...

'Hello, time to wake up', your comment is over the top. We have hired probably 100 hitters over the past 11 years, always given equal treatment and paid quite well. All I did was say what our experience was, along with the experience of other coaches and parents. Also, I have been told by at least 10 college coaches over the years that the reason they recruit foreign players is they work harder and are better to work with. We get our hitters from colleges and have a relationship with the coaches.

If your experience is different, that is fantastic. But to discount the experience of someone else is uncalled for.

Your anger at me is odd since I am the leading voice on these comments touting that American colleges should have more US guys on the team. Not everything in life is black and white....I said I was "torn". But facts are facts, over 11 years and many hitters, the US guys have been less reliable than the non US guys, and others we know, along with college coaches, say the same thing.