Re: Rule Changes
I do think that a shortened singles format will lead to more upsets just because of the upsets that we already see happen much more frequently when the third set superbreaker is played because the team match is decided already.
Reading the blog on Zootennis.com, the potential for this change makes a lot more sense to me than it did when I first heard about it because this would really be just for the NCAA tournament unless adopted by the coaches for everything else. Not that I agree with the change, but the NCAA has the power to do what it wants with the tournament whereas past changes that have affected the regular season have taken a couple years of conversation, surveys, and debate before happening.
You may immediately tell me that if the NCAA tournament makes the change that all of the regular season will follow, but that isn't necessarily true. In the NCAA, golf uses a hybrid stroke play followed by team match-ups (just like tennis except with 5 players) for the final 16 teams, I think. To the best of my knowledge, those head-to-head team match-ups are not even used in any of the conference championships. I could see conference championships utilizing the format to get teams used to it, to differentiate the event from the regular season, and to ease the schedule of play (a potential second reason for the NCAA to be considering these changes). But that doesn't mean that coaches or conferences would use the format in dual matches throughout the year.
Why would the NCAA want to change the championships? One is the obviously mentioned television issue. Two is the difficulties that this past year's tournament presented. Because of weather and the length of matches, there were matches starting after 9:00 pm at night. Personally, I think that is pretty cool, but when that match has the potential to go for 4 hours, there could be some concern about playing at 1:30 in the morning. Under the current format, the NCAA schedules the round of 16 for 9:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 6:00 with pretty much no chance of even getting close to those starting times. Even the men's semifinals started late this year because of the length of the women's semifinals. While I love the final 16 format with combined men and women, I could see a cut back to a final four or an elite eight in order to keep the combined event and make it more manageable. Or you could do something drastic like change the format.