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Roundtable: Effects of New Scoring in Division I (Part 1)
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Changes to the scoring system in Division I tennis are here to stay. After experimenting with a variety of different methods to accelerate the pace of play in the college game, the NCAA has approved several adjustments initially proposed by the ITA. No-ad scoring, a single set for doubles matches and eliminated warm-ups with opponents are modifications meant to engage fans and shorten the time student-athletes spend on the court. These changes have forced players and coaches to adapt to a new college tennis rhythm

As teams get into the heart of the dual match season, we posed the following question to our panel of coaches:

 

Q) How has the revised scoring format for singles and doubles changed the dual match dynamic and the training necessary to prepare your team?

 

Lee Taylor Walker, head coach, TCU Women

The matches are definitely faster and more pressure-packed. The two main focuses we continue to address are doubles preparation and deuce-point conviction. Since there is no warm-up with the opponent prior to the match, and the doubles is a single, no-ad set, it's crucial that we're ready to play our strengths at full speed from the first point. If we're not, it makes it extremely difficult to overcome a poor start.

For the deuce point, we talk to our players a lot about having reliable routines and pre-point clarity on how they want to play. A lot of times you see players rush and play it just like any other point, avoiding the reality of the situation and letting panic or fear set in. We want to stare the deuce point head on, take control of the situation with our routines, and commit to playing our strengths. It was a fun and exciting change last year in the Big 12, and I'm hopeful it will add to the excitement of our sport around the country in all conferences this year.

 

David Fish, head coach, Harvard Men

We traded the drama of deuce-ad scoring for the excitement of sudden death. Matches are shorter, with more excitement packed into them. The shorter doubles sets are the "appetizer," leaving spectators still hungry for the main singles course. The format is logical: each of the seven points is earned by winning two of three sets; although in doubles, the sets are played simultaneously and in singles, sequentially.

Down the road, if we're serious about bringing in non-tennis fans and younger kids, we should adopt 0-1-2-3-4 scoring, too. Either way, this new format is an all-around win, for players and spectators alike. In order to prepare players to compete with the revised format, we play a lot of shorter sets and shorter games. Also, doubles pairs can also now be put together with only one strong returner, who can take all the sudden death points.

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