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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Women's Division I Tennis Coaches Call for Vote on No-ad Format

Yesterday afternoon, I was contacted by Lin Loring, head women's coach at Indiana University regarding the process that led to the recent NCAA announcement that Division I tennis would use a no-ad format for the coming season. The decision to go to no-ad was arrived at by the ITA Division I Operating Committee and the NCAA Division I Committee, but was not put to a vote of coaches. Loring provided me with the following petition, asking for such a vote. If you would like to discuss this with him, or add your school to the list, Loring's contact information is in the link I provided above.

To Whom It May Concern:

We the Head Women’s Tennis Coaches at the schools listed below want to express our concern over the recent changes made to college tennis by the NCAA Tennis Committee and the ITA. We strongly believe these decisions do not represent the wishes of the majority of Women’s Coaches in NCAA Division I. Three major changes were made: the de-emphasis of doubles, the use of no-ad scoring and the practice of abandoning all dead singles matches. We are very open to discussions to shorten the length of team matches, but it must be a representative process. Again, we are convinced these changes, in their current format, do not represent the wishes of Women’s Head Coaches, and more importantly the women college players. Please allow the Women’s Head Tennis Coaches to vote before you make such a dramatic change to women’s college tennis.

Indiana University


Stanford University

University of Colorado

University of Michigan

Boston University

Loyola Marymount

Stephen F. Austin

Florida State University

North Texas State

Eastern Michigan University

University of Albany

University of Minnesota

Louisiana Tech Univ.

Rutgers University

University of Utah

Mississippi State Univ.

Furman University

Marquette University

IUPU Indianapolis

Abilene Christian University

Texas A & M

University of Wisconsin

Cal Poly San Louis Obispo

University of Louisville

Murray State University

Drake University

San Diego State

SIU Carbondale

Indiana Purdue FW

Dartmouth University

University of Pennsylvania

University of Mass Amherst

University of Missouri

Univ. of Alabama Birmingham

NJ Institute of Technology

CSU Fullerton

Howard University

University of Tennessee Martin

Wake Fores University

Morgan State University

William & Mary

Santa Clara University

Seton Hall University

U.S. Air Force Academy

Florida International Univ.

Missouri State University

U. C. Santa Barbara

University of Illinois

DePaul University

University of Cincinnati

University of Toledo

Brown University

Marshall University

Butler University

SUNY Buffalo 

Sacred Heart University

Quinnipiac University

Bryant University

University of Northern Iowa

University of Notre Dame

Long Beach State Univ.

Virginia Commonwealth

North Carolina A&T

Univ. of Evansville

Liberty University

Eastern Illinois University

South Alabama

Youngstown State

U.S. Naval Academy

Florida Gulf Coast

George Mason University

University of Akron

University of Montana

Washington State University

Purdue University

St. Mary’s College

Cleveland State University

UNC Greensboro

Niagara University

Virginia Tech

University of Hartford

U.C. Irvine

University of Iowa

University of Rhode Island

Creighton University

Michigan State University

Wichita State University

University of Richmond

Bucknell University

Univ. Nevada Las Vegas

University of Nebraska

Xavier University

University of Kentucky

Brigham Young University

Univ. of Southern California

University of Washington

U. C. Riverside

University of Central Florida

U. C. Berkeley

University of Wyoming

Sam Houston State University

UM Kansas City

Lamar University

University of New Orleans

U. of Northern Colorado

Vanderbilt University

Middle Tennessee State U.

Northwestern State Univ.

Univ. of LA Lafayette

Arkansas State University

Univ. of Nebraska Omaha

UNC Asheville

University of Connecticut

Nicholls State University

Longwood University

Bowling Green University

Kansas State University

Saint Joseph’s University

Univ. of Wisconsin Green Bay

Elon University

Univ. of California Davis

Cornell University

Chicago State University

UM Balitmore County

Stony Brook University

Seattle University

University of Kansas

Sam Houston State University

Louisiana State University

Winthrop University

University of Louisiana Monroe

Samford University

Miami University

Montana State University

East Tennessee University

University of Maryland

University of Pittsburgh

University of Massachusets

Binghamton University

Louisiana Tech

Western Carolina University

Univ. of Texas El Paso

University of Idaho

Saint Peter’s University


Joe said...

Sure is a lot of whining by college coaches. Get over it, especially about the dead matches. That's the best thing to happen since sliced bread. Women's tennis is too boring now. Anything to shorten the length is a great idea. Better yet, just do away with Women's tennis altogether and give those 8 scholarships to the Men's teams.

tennisfan said...

Joe, comments like that speak to your ignorance and that is exactly why your opinion is irrelevant.

Lin said...

Maybe Joe would like to rescind women's right to vote as well? And the right to drive? I am guessing that degree of misogyny was caused by either him, or his child's inability to secure a scholarship, and believes that it's the women's fault. If so, while I vehemently disagree, I understand. If not, then he just needs help.

Shawn - TN said...

Let's just be thankful that none of our daughters are married to this guy, Joe. Sounds like an idiot.
Sorry Colette, but you need to filter out hateful comments like his hitting your site. They are not respectful towards women.

Jun j said...

I don't mind no ad scoring. It's better than doing the third set tiebreaker.

getreal said...

8 full scholarships for women's tennis vs. 4 for men's may be fair in terms of overall athletic scholarships but ends up being a joke. Besides women's college tennis being particularly weak (and yes boring), the whole thing with Title 9 because of football, basketball and baseball, all other men sports get the short end of the stick. Women's tennis wins the lottery with some players getting a full ride who maybe don't even compete vs. a number 3 men's tennis player lucky to get 50%.

Dave said...

Disagree with Joe's comments, but also disagree that they should be censored. To paraphrase Mark Cuban, idiots have a right to an opinion too. It's fair to criticize Joe's responses, but I don't think they should be eliminated just because most would find them distasteful.

Bazinga said...

Although a little harsh, Joe makes a good point. The current state of Women's collegiate tennis matches are extremely boring to have to watch. I believe there is a power struggle going on between the NCAA and ITA factions. We all know who will win the battle. If the current state of college tennis is going to kill these kids chances of playing pro tennis, which I don't think will happen, then what does WWT do to the pros who play that venue?

ClarkC said...

Colleen: On Google Chrome, the first letter of each line of the story is chopped off by the content on the left side of the page overlapping it. I have never had this problem before at ZooTennis. Did something change?

Colette Lewis said...

Thanks for mentioning that. I had a hard time formatting it from a Word document this morning, but didn't check it in Chrome. It should be fixed now.

Girl Power said...

At least the women's coaches are speaking up about it. Where are the men's coaches? Don't let them destroy college tennis! You go girls!

And thank you Colette for doing your part which is significant.

Women's tennis fan said...

Another back room tennis vote! Tennis is the least transparent sport.

Anonymous said...

Pure no ad guts the game and gives an edge to the lesser player. With no ad each game is maximum 7 points. How about 2 ad? Makes the game maximum 11 points. Can't add that much to the length of the match and keeps normal scoring for a few more points.

For me going to a tie breaker at 7 all instead of 8 all in doubles was not an issue. How about a tiebreaker at 5 all instead of 6 all in singles.

The NCAA release says they are trying to grow the game. To be totally correct they are trying to grow a bastardized game not the real game. Just damn.

Paul said...

Thank goodness for Colette. If you weren't here Colette, many of us wouldn't hear about these backroom deals and it would be difficult to voice our opinion until after it is too late. Can you tell us who is on the committee that made this decision?

I have no problem with finding a way to shorten tennis matches or meets in college as long as we don't destroy the validity of tennis while doing it. The worst one is the doubles change. No-ad and a 6 game set? Please. Anyone who has played competitive tennis knows this is too short.

U.S. tennis should learn from the ITF at both the junior and college levels. They have shortened doubles with no-ad scoring and a super tiebreaker for the 3rd. If you also had no-ad scoring for singles it would shorten the longest meets by a couple hours or more. Most meets would be completed in 3-3.5 hours. In the worst case scenario they could use the 8 game pro set.

As for Joe above, he is an idiot. But in his defense I was an idiot before raising 2 daughters through juniors and college tennis. You can't compare girls to boys. Girls are different than boys. One is not "better" than the other -- they are just different -- and thank God they made us different!

It appears that the women's college coaches need to elect persons on their committee who are interested in the opinions of their fellow coaches?!

Hope this gets changed. Otherwise a lot of college tennis players will be unhappy and many serious players will cut college short to play pro. It is a different world we live in -- college can be completed online. There are a lot of negative issues associated with college -- I hope the ITA and NCAA don't add another one by castrating the scoring in tennis. After too much cutting it is no longer tennis. Can you imagine doing this to football or basketball?

Colette Lewis said...

Billy Pate of Princeton is the chair of the ITA men's operating committee, and I've spoken to him personally about this over the weekend. The chair of the ITA women's operating committee is Sheila McInerney of Arizona State University. D.J. Gurule, women’s tennis coach at Gonzaga University, is head of the NCAA D-I committee.

Coach6060 said...

There's another way to look at it. The NCAA has just increased the wages paid to these players. They are now about to do far less work for their scholarship monies. Seems like that's the way of the world these days. Do less and get more. We did a no-ad doubles set last week. Took 19 minutes for a 6-3 score. 19 minutes! Domino's Pizza is now studying these results.

Darian said...

First of all I think the committee should be made up of coaches who are relevant in college tennis. Arizona state is the only team that made the NCAA tournament last year in tennis and they usually do. But programs that don't compete for anything like Princeton and Gonzaga coaches are responsible for making the most important decisions in our beloved sport of college tennis. No offense to those teams but give me a break.
They say they are doing this for fan support? People only come out to matches to see good teams play, there not going to come out just because there is no ad scoring and they sure aren't going to come out to watch a team that hasn't made the NCAA tournament in 10 years. That's the nature of college tennis. If you are a good team with a great program you most likely will have a decent amount of fans.
I would love to hear about what Manny Diaz, Peter Smith, Stella Sampras and all the coaches of great teams think about this. Why aren't they on the committee? Because they are too busy doing their jobs trying to make their programs the best!!!

And lastly a suggestion for a format that will not change the integrity of the sport and attract more people to the matches.

Format: Have every individual game count towards the overall score of the match. Therefore points are going up on the scoreboard every few minutes rather than every hour to two hours. Number one it would teach kids how to fight harder as even if they are down 5-0 they can still make a difference for the team. Number two it would keep the integrity of the sport. And number three I think it would be an extremely exciting way to conduct a tennis match. College tennis is different and special, so lets make it that without ruining its core values.

Colette Lewis said...

I can't speak for them, but it's my understanding that Diaz and Smith are for the new format

NoBoringTennis said...

To save time and make tennis more interesting, drop second serves. With the rackets we have now, there is no reason to give big serves a handicap. If you bang that first serve and miss, you don't get a second chance_ just like someone who drives out a forehead/backhand out or miss a dropshot.

Shawn - TN said...

Colette, the chair of the ITA men's operating committee is for the changes or against the changes.
Didn't follow your post.

Collegefan said...

As a fan of college tennis and one who does go to the matches, the best part is DOUBLES. I think the excitement generated by those matches is what keeps me coming back. It would be a shame if that was shortened.

Colette Lewis said...

@Shawn-- For

D1 needs you said...

I am always fascinated at how the ZooTennis blog comes to life whenever you are posting about college results or issues, whether big or small, but is virtually silent about juniors. That should tell you how important you are to the buzz and life of college tennis Colette --- don't even joke about leaving D1 coverage behind, please! We need you, and D1 tennis needs you -- particularly the players, whether they realize it or not, they do!

Colette Lewis said...

Thanks. But I'm not joking. I will write a complete post about my decision, but I do not plan to continue to cover D-1 college tennis if the format is no-ad.

Vincent Tennis said...

As an old timer who has seen shot clocks added, games moved to Monday night and balls get bigger, I am not afraid to make a change for the better.

But I don't get for one second how these changes would be better. The shot clock saved basketball because every little dribbler would stall the games when they were ahead.

But does anyone really think that making a 3.5 hour match finish in 3 hours is going to make a difference for the fans?

Sounds like a bunch of people over reacting to one part of the problem and coming up with a solution that is much worse than the problem.

College tennis needs a leader!

D1 needs you said...

I hope you don't have to make that decision. I have a D1 player at a top school and have relied on you to keep up with so much of college tennis. I admire you taking a stand and understand it completely. I am so against these changes but feel as powerless as I did when they started stripping down the junior tournament structure.

CT fan said...

Scriviano is one of the 25 insiders who pushed it. I am told his comments are par for the group that pulled an inside move to ram this stuff in. Also told that nearly 200 of the 280 womens coaches contacted by Coach Loring have now signed the petition since last week. That's 70%.

No NCAA radical change occurs because some committee arbitrarily decides they are god.

It's a move to try to shorten matches on a PIPE DREAM they will then get TV coverage. Which would at most effect 20 elite teams in the power conferences.

The process was flawed, other options not considered and the so called vote was two bad options... no choice of NEITHER. The ITA mgmt and committee need to go after a second summer of attempting to push in radical change without majority membership support.

I heard there was another meeting this week where the group that pushed this in cannot justify the changes other than saying they need changes (for non specific reasons) and they arbitrarily decided on 3 hours amongst themselves.

No other NCAA sport is run like this.

Time for ITA to go.

Brent said...

Are there any lessons to be learned from how college golf is run? While not perfect, that is probably the sister sport that is most comparable to tennis. I don't follow college golf very closely but just from a distance so hence why I'm asking the question. But, my perception is that their pro game is materially healthier and more lucrative than tennis (although coming back to earth a little bit with the impact of Tiger's fall being felt), and much more interest in terms of ratings and coverage (both for major tour pro events, and regular coverage of both Senior Tour and minor league events). Yet, college golf is nary to be found on TV but seems to be plenty healthy. I am sure the men's programs have felt an impact from Title IX in semi-similar form to what tennis has felt, but I have heard nothing of college golf materially altering the rules of the game in an effort to chase TV ratings. And, they would have much more incentive to do it because it might actually work! There is absolutely no scenario in the short run that will result in college tennis getting the level of TV coverage that they seem to be seeking. If that is the primary driver of these changes, that is like someone spending their college savings on a pile of lottery tickets. The only other driver I have heard referenced is that the matches are too long for the kids. Absolutely ridiculous - I played college tennis and in a shocking turn of events - kids want to play more, not less. Crazy town. My two cents

Christian said...

What is happening to tennis in the US? Why are the players having so little say here. They ruined USTA junior tennis by cutting all the tournaments and the draw sizes and no one good is playing it anymore except Kalamazoo ( and there is a long list of good players who didn't play that btw..). And now college tennis is next on the chopping block. I am bewildered by this. Unless we take European players and ask them to become US citizens, I see no way we will ever have a bunch of players in the top 100 again.

kd said...

Sad and dishearting. At the end of the day, I agree with Colette and will probably not really follow D1 tennis if these changes are implemented. Let's face it - there is a lot of tennis (and sport in general) competing for limited attention, so I see no need to waste any of mine on some bastardized pseudo-sport.

Paul said...

Is there a group of NCAA players that are protesting this? Do you know how many? We know that 70 percent of the women's coaches are protesting, but can we state in a letter to the NCAA how many student players? Why is it only the women's coaches that are complaining?

This reminds me of USTA Junior tennis when a select few of competing coaches make a decision that affects the masses. Unfortunately, Div. I tennis does not have a good group of leaders who know how to communicate with their colleagues, communicate with the student players, and provide a vision for college tennis. Frankly, most tennis coaches have limited skills and vision for making these types of decisions.

Paul said...

One more clarification needed: Can anyone tell me what the process was for making this decision? It looks like this to me:

1. Last year they try out a shortened point system for 6 weeks and then went back to what they were use to.
2. No feedback was requested or published on how coaches felt about the trial last fall.
3. This summer they wait until just before school starts to make a major change in scoring - no trial period.
4. No surveys sent out last year or this summer to get feedback on what options are most preferred.

Does this sound right or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Would a player on the bubble choosing between pro and college go to college with these rules? Will as many quality foreign players come to the US. Unintended consequences? I guess we will know if there is an exodus before January if these rules stand.

I'm All Ears said...

to all with ears…..if you disagree with the upcoming changes to the collegiate format, and you donate to your favorite university's athletic department or to the ITA…don't donate. perhaps all concerned will hear that……..

DaveKB said...

Here is a quote from the women's coaches statement.

"We are very open to discussions to shorten the length of team matches, but it must be a representative process."

OK then, how do they propose to shorten matches without no ad (I prefer one ad) or 3rd set match TB's or changing doubles from 8 game pro sets to 6 game sets or using the clinch rule in dual matches? There are no other ways to shorten the matches.

Almost posters here simply do not want the matches shortened, which is fine. I do not attend many women's tennis matches, but I do attend maybe a half dozen men's matches a year including the ACC tournament, the NCAA's and sometimes the NTI.

The statement can also be read that the coaches agree with the changes, but just felt unrepresented. So which is it?

Almost college sports have had rule changes and often it is to shorten them. It has even happened in men's football in order to stay within TV's 3 or 3.5 hour time frame.

Almost no one will come to watch a sporting event that can last 4+ hours as do all close women's tennis matches. The close men's matches are shorter because the points are shorter with more aces and more forehand winners and misses. Women tend to play long points and serving is not nearly as big an advantage in the women's game. Most people have travel time to get there and back, so who has 5 to 6 hours to spend and also hold down a job when half the matches are currently not on weekends.

The reality is very few college players ever become touring pros. Just look at the rankings. Except for the rare NCAA champion types like Steve Johnson, it is a complete myth that college tennis is a training ground for the pros, especially at the schools where almost all of these coaches coach. If you take all college players less than 1% end up making a living on either main tour. More do play Challengers or Futures events for a few years, but you cannot make living doing that for very long, so they soon re-enter the real world and get a job or become club pros feeding balls to juniors and others who pay for lessons.

At my school (UVA), which has had one of the best men's teams over the last decade, only about 200 to 300 people watch the matches and they do not charge anything to watch. Most matches are short as UVA usually wins very quickly.

I think TV, but mostly the conference networks who all need live programming, will start covering college tennis at least at the top 25 type schools. TV has schedules to keep and it needs a "window" that is not potentially 4 to 5 hours.

Some tennis programs have been cut in recent years due to lack of funding. I am not sure how you get more funding into college tennis, but it sure needs it. Maybe TV is partially the answer?

In conclusion, no ad scoring which only impacts maybe 10% to 15% of the games that do go to deuce now, is just not a big deal. Even in these rare deuce games at least half end after two points, so they are really only eliminating one point in maybe 7% of all games in all of college tennis that are played these days. As long as college tennis is a team sport, the clinch rule makes sense, although I do wish in dual matches there was an coach's option to finish all matches. I wish they had left doubles alone, but a 6 game set vs. a 8 game set is not that big a change.

Maybe college tennis needs more weekend tournaments like college golf does. BTW in college golf the worst player's score simply does not count as they take the best 4 out 5 scores. The scoring would have to change, but it could be done. Probably would have to play maybe 11 or 13 points against everyone in your flight and then the team with the most points wins. That would definitely change things, but it will never happen. It might be kind of fun to try it though.

CT fan said...

On the assumption matches need to be shortened (of which there is major disagreement why)

Clinch Clinch like the NCAA's and ITA Indoors.

I'll bet money if you test this format the 'average' is 3 to 3 1/2 hour max. Occasional long day and some ugly 2 hour beat downs like UCLA women did in first round this year.

When doubles is decided (2 wins) stop. Move to singles. When dual match deciding point is determined then stop.

There is a reason why NCAA's plays this. Why play matches for another hour IF the dual match is decided. But don't bastardize the sport. Let those epic tight 4-3 matches go.

TV ratings and crowd interest soars when the matches are close. When it's 4-0 or 4-1... kill it.

IF shortening the match is really necessary anyway.

But why shorten? Golf takes 9 hours to play a team round and baseball averages 3 1/2 hours.

CT fan said...

PS.... only a couple BCS mega conferences have TV networks.

So lets change the rules for 4 conferences out of 33?

And they still won't cover it because there are six courts. Imagine trying to cover 3 baseball fields at the same time?

This TV thing is a crazy pipe dream and will only impact 20 teams out fof 500 men's and women's teams.

Let's get real.

CT fan said...

Sorry if this is repetitive but I don't think the robot worked.

IF matches need to be shortened in total time it can be done without bastardizing the sport.

How about: Clinch Clinch like NCAA's and ITA's use. At the dubs pt and dual match clincher just stop.

Avg NCAA match length is about 3 hours. UCLA women won 1st round in less than 2. But let the epic 4-3 match run... don't screw with it because someone has a pipe dream that they might put 5 matched per year on some elite BCS conference's TV network.

How come these committee's (under a big shove from USTA) didn't test clinch-clinch for avg match length? Without mutating the sport.

The process failed.
The goal is not clear
The apparent goal (TV) will only impact 4 of 33 conferences... so why destroy the sport for a false belief TV will occur.

And exactly how are they going to do 6 courts on TV at once anyway? Major cost.

Let's get real.

Paul said...

Colette or anyone: Can you answer these questions:

1. Did the ITA publish the results for the trial scoring change last year? They said they would in their FAQ about it, but I have not heard that any results were published.
2.Have they surveyed any coaches or players about their opinions on the scoring change?
3. Is there a student player opinion poll on these changes?
4. Why haven't the coaches of the men's teams protested like the women?

CT Fan said...

I just read yesterday's ITA release of these changes. It's way beyond even the trial. No ad, no warm up,d dubs to 6 and stop and clinch clinch. Dual matches MIGHT take 2 hours.

I hope Ms. Mainz, Mr. Cass and Mr. McEnroe (quoted and behind this move) all give back 40% of their salaries since they want to shave 40% of the competition day away.

This won't build tennis.. it will destroy it. Less than 2 hour dual matches.

Mr. McEnroe: If change is good, are the PRO'S changing to this format too?

So they did a test, rigged the vote AND THEN STEPPED WAY BEYOND THE TEST TOO?

Please NCAA Competition Committee stop this in September and mandate the complete replacement of these two committee's.

Double_headers_here_we_come said...

With 100 minute matches, there will be time to do double headers EVERY match day !!!! With more matches per season, every coach will be able to have a twenty game winning season.!!! What fan excitement. This is going to be huge on television!!!!! Awesome!!!! The FANS WILL LOVE IT !!!!! This is going to be so, so, so devastatingly mind blowing awesome!! And so good for the students-athletes.

Colette Lewis said...

Many men's coaches are opposed, but it's true that women's programs are much safer than men's due to Title IX.
I have just heard from Brian Boland. He is very much opposed to this, as is Ty Tucker of Ohio St. I will have comments from Boland when I post on this next week.

Lisa Stone said...

Today's ParentingAces radio show is addressing the no-ad scoring and the process by which it was adopted. Several college coaches, men's & women's, will be on the air with me discussing this issue. I urge you to tune in live at 12 ET or listen to the podcast later today. To tune in live, go to www.blogtalkradio.com/ur10snetwork or call 714-583-6853 (you can also ask a question on the air). To listen to the podcast, go to www.parentingaces.com/radio-show later this afternoon. The implications for junior tennis are important to understand, too.

Tennis_Dad said...

Colette--I was told that Sheila McInerney of Arizona State (chair of the ITA Women's Operating Committee) opposed the measures. Do you know if that is true?

Colette Lewis said...

It is. I mention it in my post, coming up tonight.