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Coaching Roundtable
Division I Coaches Assess New NCAA Super Regional Format

The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Championships debuted a new Super Regional format this year.

All Round of 16 matches were hosted by higher seeds on college campuses rather than being played at the final site like in years past.

The change was largely made to help generate more local support for programs and provide more flexibility for any weather-related delays.

There were only two upsets in the Super Regionals, and both came on the men’s side, with No. 9 North Carolina beating No. 8 USC in Los Angeles and No. 10 TCU beating No. 7 Mississippi State in Starkville.

In this month’s Coaching Roundtable, some of the participating coaches provided their thoughts on what they liked and didn’t like about the format change:

Jeff Wallace, Georgia women

“When they first started talking about this, I wasn’t really a proponent of it. I was a little bit on the fence. I saw some value, but I also kind of liked the whole idea of 16 teams going to the final site, although there are a lot of potential issues with practice courts and it is kind of a juggernaut when 32 teams are in one place. But I had been a little skeptical. Of course I am bias since we hosted, but after going through it I thought it was phenomenal. Just the fact that eight schools around the country got to host the NCAA Tournament says it all to me. Having the Sweet 16 on campus for those eight places just promotes college tennis in such a positive way. I know our fans were thrilled and the players were super excited. I thought it was really special, and now I am a proponent of it.

“I’d like to think I’d be saying this even if we didn’t host and were the No. 9 team in the country or No. 12 team. I’d rather play in front of a great crowd than playing a 10 a.m. match somewhere on the second courts and there are 29 people there. Now, the Elite Eight at the final site is really the Elite Eight, and what everybody is trying to do in the regular season becomes more important because you want to be in the top eight in the country to host a Super Regional and try to have that advantage of being on campus and promoting it so the fans do come out and support it.”

Peter Wright, Cal men

“I love the change. I think it was a great change for college tennis. We were one team that had to travel twice. We had to travel to Illinois for the first two rounds and then down to Texas for the Super Regional. Even though we didn’t beat Texas, we felt like we had a great experience. Other coaches I have talked to like (Georgia’s) Manny Diaz, who also had to travel, said they had an amazing experience as well. A lot of schools had the biggest crowds they’ve had on campus all season and it’s a great way to promote our sport.

“Now having gone down to the final site and seeing how that was, I think it’s been successful as well. Players who lose in the Round of 16 aren’t sitting around for six to seven days before playing individuals, so I think it’s working on every level. The tradeoff of keeping it the way it was is a lot of teams are playing Round of 16 matches on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. on backcourts in front of 50-75 people. Now you are playing at host schools in front of bigger crowds and I just think it’s a big step forward for college tennis.”

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Page updated on Monday, March 09, 2020
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