Eight Intriguing Questions for 2014
by Colette Lewis
, 24 January 2014
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Tennis Recruiting enters its ninth year in 2014, and this January we feature the ninth straight edition of "Intriguing Questions" from columnist Colette Lewis. You can see last year's questions here.
Lewis asks eight questions about junior and college tennis that should reveal their answers over the next twelve months.
1) Will the ITA settle on a format for Division I tennis?
In Division I college tennis, a premise that dual matches are too long has led to some drastic suggestions to shorten them, although to what end I can't quite comprehend. The USTA's proposal to play doubles last, and only if the dual match is tied at 3, appears to be dead, but the men's teams have agreed to try no-ad in both doubles and singles, and the women's teams will play match tiebreakers in lieu of a third set in singles during the first six weeks of the 2014 season, which concludes with the ITA National Team Indoor Championships next month.
College tennis has never shied away from experimentation, but now that it has gained real traction as a developmental path, these radical format changes may prove more damaging to that perception than a three-hour and 20-minute match could ever do.
Going to no-ad in doubles makes sense to me, since it is a format played on the WTA and ATP level, but I'm hoping to see this constant tinkering for a dubious benefit fade away in 2014.
2) Will any of the American boys born in 1998 win a junior slam?
The progress of the boys born in 1998 was one of 2013's Intriguing Questions, and their continued success keeps them in spotlight for 2014.
The "push each other" narrative gets tiresome, but in truth, competition rarely hurts. Americans Stefan Kozlov, Michael Mmoh and Francis Tiafoe, all in the ITF Top 10 before their 16th birthdays, now have another benchmark to spur their rivalry. Winning a junior slam may not always signal an impressive professional career five years later, but it's the logical next step for them. Yet given the always unpredictable nature of tennis development, it's possible that by September, another young American could emerge to challenge them at Kalamazoo and at their country's grand slam.