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Greg Johnson | | August 13, 2015

Rules of the court

The Division I Competition Oversight Committee on Wednesday approved no-ad scoring for all matches of the men’s and women’s tennis championships, starting in 2016.

In no-ad scoring, when a game is tied at 40-40, known as deuce, the player who wins the next point wins the game. The change was approved during a committee teleconference after more than three years of discussion.

In July 2014, the Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee, with support from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and the United States Tennis Association, made the recommendations to modify the tennis championships with hopes of reducing the length of the championship matches.

At that time, the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet tabled the recommendation for further review.  Since then, the cabinet has been replaced by the oversight committee, which selected an ad hoc group chaired by Stanford University Senior Associate Athletics Director Beth Goode to study the proposals and report back to the full oversight committee before action was taken.

“With the health and well-being of student-athletes, the overall championship experience and fan engagement at the forefront, the ad hoc committee felt that the best direction for collegiate tennis was to move forward with the recommendation from the Division I Tennis Committee,” Goode said. “Many conferences experimented last year by playing this format, and the majority of the feedback was positive.

“The ad hoc committee took into consideration feedback from all sides of the debate and was comfortable that this recommendation is in the best interest of the student-athlete experience and well-being. Change is always difficult, but we believe this is a tremendous time for college tennis and look forward to watching the increased excitement at the championship.”

In the team championships, three doubles matches will be played with each match consisting of one set played to six games. A tiebreak will be played at 6-all.

Following a five-minute intermission, six singles matches will be played with each match consisting of a best-of-three sets format with tiebreakers at 6-all. In addition, there will be no warm-up with an opponent once the players have been called to the court for the start of the match.

As in the past, team scoring consists of three doubles matches played for one point, with six singles matches played for one point each.  The first team to win four points overall wins the match.  The matches will be played “clinch/clinch” – when the team doubles point is won, the remaining doubles match will be stopped. And in singles, once the team match has been won, any remaining singles matches will be stopped.

All individual singles and doubles championships will be played utilizing no-ad scoring. In doubles, matches will consist of the best-of-three sets, with a match tiebreak in lieu of the third set.

Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee Chair Tad Berkowitz said the changes have come after months of coordinated discussions, experimentation, research and vetting with college coaches and administrators.

“The goal of the scoring format change is to help improve student-athlete well-being at the ever-increasing high level of competition while maintaining the integrity of the game,” said Berkowitz, who is the men’s tennis coach at the University of Arizona. “It emphasizes that every point counts and should make our championships matches even more exciting for fans.” 

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