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The Impact of the Scoring System on Coaching

Over the past couple of years, there have been several experiments with the format of college tennis - no-ad scoring, shortened sets, third-set tiebreakers, the clinch-clinch rule. A proposal to move to no-ad scoring for NCAA Division I competition was tabled earlier this month.

Changes like these may be accompanied by different strategies and tactics from college coaches. With practice time limited, there different approaches to strength and fitness. How do winner-take-all points at deuce impact your approach as the server or receiver?

We recently put the question to our panel college coaches:


Q) What impact does the scoring system have on your approach to preparing your team?


Mark Jeffrey, head coach, Louisiana Men

A new scoring system will definitely have an impact on how we prepare for matches - and for the entire season ahead. The shortened format will mean more time spent up front on warming up. Warm ups are now an integral part of getting your the ready to get off to a fast start.

Shortened formats will also emphasize finishing out games. Players will need to pay close attention to those rise points where players could possibly go ahead by two points or allow the score to even again. In essence, tennis at the Division I level has been shortened from a 1500-meter race to an 800-meter race. Players will need to focus more on how they start to make sure they are in contention at the finish.

I really like the proposed changes. They would help the welfare of the student athlete over the course of the season. We are one of the only sports that plays on concrete, so the shorter matches should help teams better manage injuries.


Gregory Wyzkowski, head coach, Seton Hall Women

If we adopt one of the shortened formats, then sadly we might experience more stalling. I do not support it, but it will not be surprising if matches where lower-ranked players have the chance to upset stronger players go as unfinished if the clinch-clinch rule is enforced. It has happened at championships already when the stronger team is winning - yet perhaps the No. 1 or No. 2 player from the stronger team is losing.

Mental training would be stressed more. A player must avoid a slow start, which is what always should be done anyway, but with with no-ad and shorter sets it will be tougher to play from behind. Players will need to pay attention as the receiver to note which side of the court the server is weaker or less consistent. Avoiding frustration if a player has long rallies and long games that can result in many unfinished matches.

Many times in practice - since it can be limited to two hours - we train with no-ad games or match tiebreaks. Although we can become comfortable with it, results in that format are not always the same when regular scoring is used in challenge matches. There will be different ways of preparing to compete with new changes. Regardless of approach taken, being mentally and physically alert on every single point will become important. Mental or physical lapses will leave less room to catch up. The changes might prepare players to handle pressure better. The question to be answered is will the better player/team still win most of the time?

In the movie Field of Dreams they said, "Build it and they will come." We will find out in college tennis if it will be "change it and they will come" - or will they still leave early or not show up at all? Time will tell. The shame if the changes do not work is that we are stealing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities from student athletes.


David Roditi, head coach, TCU Men

I played Davis Cup with the no-ad scoring format, and I remember having to be very focused on my service games. I felt I couldn't afford to play any loose points on my serve or I would get broken.

For this reason, I believe first serve percentage would be very important - as well as making good decisions. The value of each point will increase, and it will teach our college players to focus better and appreciate each point. No-ad scoring would be great for development.

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Page updated on Monday, November 04, 2019
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