Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Western & Southern Open Acceptances; ACC, Big West Conferences Join in Cancellation of Fall Tennis; LTA Hires New Performance Director

Entries for the Western & Southern Open, which begins three weeks from Thursday with qualifying matches at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, were announced today.  Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are entered in the men's field, along with defending champion Daniel Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

The women's field is not as impressive, with No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu not planning to play. Barty announced that she would also be skipping the US Open due to concerns about the pandemic.

It's likely that other big names will drop in the next week or so; the US Open entry list is scheduled to be released next week.

American men who have received direct entry:
John Isner
Taylor Fritz
Reilly Opelka

American women who have received direct entry:
Sofia Kenin
Serena Williams
Madison Keys
Alison Riske
Amanda Anisimova
Jennifer Brady
Danielle Collins
Coco Gauff

The complete list of main acceptances can be found here.

The ACC made an announcement about its fall sports, and among the sports canceled was tennis. With the ACC arguably the best tennis conference in the country, and with players from ACC schools not able to represent their institutions during the fall, the prospect of either of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association majors held in the fall happening is now decidedly unlikely.

Many college players compete throughout the fall at ITF events without representing their schools, so if those tournaments come back, that will remain an option, but they must pay their own way. Having the school pay for those ITF tournaments has been one of draws to Division I college tennis recently, so that is a blow to those who were relying on that support.

While the ACC is the first Power 5 conference to make that decision, another conference, the Big West, announced today that tennis is one of the sports affected by its decision to postpone the fall sports season.

The Big West has 11 member schools, with ten of them sponsoring women's tennis and seven sponsoring men's tennis:
Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Northridge
Cal Poly*
Long Beach State
UC Davis*
UC Irvine*
UC Riverside*
UC Santa Barbara*
UC San Diego*
*sponsor both men's and women's teams

While the Big West specifically addressed tennis in its release, other non-Power 5 conferences have previously announced they would be canceling or postponing fall sports, presumably including tennis. They are:

America East

Atlantic 10

Ivy League

Metro Atlantic

Mid-Eastern Athletic

Patriot League

Southwestern Athletic

In Player Development news, the LTA has announced the hiring of Michael Bourne as its Performance Director. Bourne, who has Olympic sport administration experience, but no background in tennis, will "oversee a national network of coaches and performance support services implementing the LTA’s Performance strategy across both the able-bodied and wheelchair programme, which sets out a clear player pathway for tennis players from junior level through to the professional game."


Wacko Waco said...

Brian Boland Resigns as the Men's Tennis Head Coach at Baylor. What's the Real Story behind the Resignation? Will Jenson Brooksby leave the Baylor Bears? Will John Roddick Apply for the Head Coach Position at Baylor? We shall see......

SeminoleG said...

Wonder when the NCAA is going to address Tennis for the classes of 2021 and 2022. No Visits no Tournaments. Swimming, Football are lobbying for some adjustments to the recruiting calendar. Maybe Tennis is also, but the silence is deafening. Hey Tennis Coaches how comfortable are you using UTR, USTA, TRN, ITF etc to recruit? Would you recruit a Player from lets say TRN that includes only Jr Events, few if any international events and NO professional events? How about a BlueChip that has few if any competitive wins agains his or her class (been beating up on younger players).

NCAA Tennis should be allowed to take the FULL GAP Year like other Sports. Football Academy Registrations for GAP year players is filling up. Many couldn't take visits and their season in question are opting to take that extra year before college. A GAP year would take some needed pressure off recruiting for some, others a way to save money, many can avoid a recruiting failure.

Players miss out more than coaches said...

College coaches are way more comfortable than you think. They don't have their eyes closed until they need a player then go check them out - they are recuiting for years ahead, not just the year at hand. They follow players along often times from middle school and yes, the results say a lot. Tennis is a small network, they can talk to each other and other players to find out who is likely to be more trouble than they are worth. Players can send coaches videos or coaches can check online for posted videos. While it's not ideal for sure, they aren't totally incapabale of recruiting over this period. Blue chips beating up on younger players? Uh ok. And UTR is an incredibly reliable gauge. The ones missing out are the players, unable to do visits and see the fit. But the coaches? They got this.

SeminoleG said...

So every other Non-revenue sport is fretting over the lack of competitive events for the 2021,2022 classes, but somehow "Tennis Coaches" got this. I often wonder why tennis is on the chopping blocks.....This view seems a bit laughable considering in one sport that had 100+ Commitments this time in 2019 has ~20 as of this month. We hear all about Seniors that commit and stop or slow their competition schedule creating angst with their perspective new coaches.
Guess Tennis Coaches know more than anyone else how a kid will look 18 months before they enter college with a 6+ month break from competition. Other sports are trying to push the recruiting calendar right or delay indefinitely because they don't and will not rely on "paper" evaluations. Yes, Home Movies are no better when you are used to "Eyes On." No wonder an ITF Top 100 Player with a 8 UTR can get a look and a USA 3 star with a 9.5 has to beg for a call back.

We will see how the 2021, 2022 recruiting classes do in the NCAAs in the next few years, my guess is there will be more surprises than normal.

This lack of competition is unprecedented and if my job were tied to getting a good recruiting class I would petition the NCAA to have some method to gather the prospects and evaluate in a safe environment. I for one was never in favor of "Combines" but given the landscape I think they are the BEST way to get the 2021, 2022 classes evaluated. USTA should consider using the National Campus when COVID gets to an acceptable rate, and with many Fall schedules canceled coaches should be free to travel. Bring them to the prospects, and that seems

Gotta wonder if "Coaches" got this then why have such an extensive USTA Jr schedule anyway?

Jon King said...

I agree with SeminoleG, no way college coaches 'got this'. And no way UTR is an 'incredibly reliable gauge' as every tournament is now strategic withdrawal after withdrawal to game the UTR rankings. We were at the UTR event at Palm Beach Atlantic last weekend. The younger girls not yet in college were comical with the withdrawals once the draws came out. See a match up vs a lower UTR player who might be skilled enough to win too many games, withdraw the night before. And have a decent match in the first round vs a higher ranked opponent, bail on the back draw as to not damage the UTR. One girl we know had the match of her life in the first round against a higher ranked opponent, she played great and you would think she would have been super happy to continue playing in a back draw match. Nope, she withdrew because the back draw opponent would have been lower ranked and could possibly mess with her UTR. Its become a massive game of how to massage the UTR rather than how to develop the players.

Agree said...

I agree with Jon on UTR. It is super sensitive to losses to lower ranked players and you can definitely ruin it by not playing your best or whatever the reason.
My son played his first tournament in FL and lost 2 matches to much lower ranked players. In a matter of week his UTR plunged 40 points. It was absolutely spectacular to see it drop like that! So I understand the fear. It is not easy to get the numbers up.