So it seems the ITA, which runs the college tennis regular season has altered the rules starting this year to speed up the play of games. This is just a Division 1 rule aimed at the regular season. Right now, college tennis is played with six singles and three doubles matches. The doubles matches are played first to 8 games and singles are best two-of-three sets.
The new recommendations by the D1 committee will change matches that go to a 3rd set to a 10-point tiebreaker instead. This will severely shorten match length and to change doubles from first to eight, to first to six.
A Facebook group of outraged players (presumably) and other interested tennis parties are complaining about it and there are tweets with the doomsday-like #SaveCollegeTennis.
First off, these changes seem only to be targeted at Division 1. While they might frustrate some, the concerns are real. Eliminating the warmup seems like a bit much, but there’s nothing in the legislation that prevents players from warming up with their own teammates before a match. The real issue is court space and most places don’t have an extra court for that to happen if it’s a smaller school, which could compound the situation.
So long as the road team gets a chance to warm up with themselves before the match begins — and 99% of coaches would allow this — then I don’t see a problem with that.
As for the rule changes, there are already a bevy of modifications that happen in college tennis due to time constraints, darkness and so forth. This just standardizes it a bit more. I don’t think eliminating 3rd sets will “kill” college tennis. I do think it’s a bizarre quirk, but I think when you consider more severe alternatives that could’ve happened (like dropping the number of matches, meaning fewer players get to make teams) this seems like one that addresses the real problems and ensures shorter matches.
No word from anyone official yet on whether this is being implemented for sure or not, and college tennis doesn’t get much ink anyway so I doubt it’ll bubble to the surface. It seems strange that high school tennis lasts longer than a college match would right now under these rules in most states, but I don’t think it’s a bad trend and think high schools should adopt similar rules.