Countdown: King, van Overbeek Mobilize Community
by Colette Lewis
, 25 October 2012
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University of Michigan's Evan King and University of Florida's Bob van Overbeek thought the tweets they were seeing about the format changes in NCAA Division I tennis, which included eliminating a full third set in singles competition, were jokes.
"I thought it was a prank," said van Overbeek, of Boca Raton, Fla. "Another player I was tweeting about it said, well, I guess we don't need to go on those 6 a.m. runs anymore with no third set. I was like yeah, ha. And then Evan messaged me later in the day, saying, did you see these tweets? And I said, yeah, I think they're joking. And he said no, (Georgia
head coach) Manny Diaz is tweeting about it."
Once the two seniors confirmed the tweets by reading the report the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee released on August 15th, they spent 45 minutes chatting on Facebook before deciding to start a Facebook group. Where the longtime friends stood on the changes was evident, with the group titled *Official* Against the changes to NCAA tennis, but their interest was as much about raising visibility for the issue as ranting against it.
"There was probably an announcement on the fourth page of the NCAA site, but it wasn't like we would want it to be, so we spread it, and when everyone saw what was actually in the document, it was, why are they doing this?" said van Overbeek, who believes 95 percent of tennis student-athletes were against the changes. "We didn't want a revolution or anything, we just wanted the information to be out there."
"We wanted to spread awareness about it, it was pretty hush," said King, who was playing in a Futures tournament when the news broke. "Everyone was out of school, so no one was paying that much attention to it - it kind of snuck under the radar.
"We were outraged," King admitted. "If the rules were passed, it would have changed the game completely. I think the level of college tennis would have dropped significantly, because juniors wouldn't take it as seriously. It was kind of a big deal and we wanted to rally the troops a little bit."
Rally them they did, with the Facebook group going from a few hundred members on the first day to over 8,000 just a few days later.