At the risk of sounding too fuddy-duddy, I may not be ready to endorse the new Big-12 Conference tennis rule which supports, screaming, yelling, shrieking during play. Yes, it is okay to yell at the opponent when he is about to strike his serve or when he is gearing up to rip a big groundstroke. Anything goes on the tennis courts during Big 12 Conference play.
Why is collegiate tennis making such a dramatic — and seemingly desperate — change?
In order to understand this new rule, we need to examine the big picture. For years, collegiate tennis has been trying fiercely to stay relevant. In the decades since the sport’s heyday, some 600-varsity tennis programs have been dropped — including programs at such well-regarded schools as Arizona State, Kansas, and Maryland. To head off more disruption in the ranks, many conferences made the decision to market the game differently so it could be televised. In order to achieve this goal, collegiate tennis has modified the rules to shorten the matches to fit into a 2 to 2.5 hour time block.
- Singles play starts each dual
- Two out of three
- Regular scoring
- Doubles follows singles.
- Doubles 2 out of three sets, each
match counts one point
- Team scoring: 9-0, 8-1, 7-2, 6-3 or 5-4.
- Doubles begin each dual match.
- Either an 8-game or 6-game set.
- No ad scoring.
- Team must win 2 of the 3 doubles
matches to claim one point.
- Matches are halted when one team
wins two doubles matches.
- All matches feature no-ad scoring.
- No lets called.
- Singles matches are halted when one
team wins 4 total points to claim
The new radical collegiate scoring system may attract ESPN to cover matches on a regular basis. But the concept that the game needs heckling is troubling. In this new Twitter world, we are giving voice to countless ‘haters’ or bullies and this is disturbing. To me, collegiate tennis is stooping to a new low when we encourage fans to yell and scream only to disrupt the opponent.
As a former collegiate coach and regular fan, it is clear there is already plenty of excitement and drama during play. This new outlandish ‘no holds bar’ rule gives credence to rowdy fans and encourages poor sportsmanship.
Can you see the local fraternity boys, possibly a little ‘liquored up’, flocking to tennis matches so they can make their mark and potentially bring down an opponent or two?
Once upon a time, tennis was considered a “classy sport.” A year from now, how will we be describing it?
Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.