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ITA Experimental Format FAQ - Did not open
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2014 ITA Experimental Formats: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are we experimenting with the format of the team match if it’s working fine?
A: The ITA Division I Operating Committee felt it was very important to take a proactive approach on the
hot-button issue of team match length, given the continuing concern of many Division I coaches, athletic
department administrators, the NCAA staff and the USTA. Long team matches have been seen as
problematic for spectator attendance, physical stress on the student-athletes, and TV opportunities.
As Larry Scott, Pac-12 Commissioner and one of the most respected voices in tennis has said, “Change is
in the air. You can either lead, or wait to be led.” It has been suggested that if the ITA can’t agree on a
format that would keep most Division I matches around three hours in a reasonable way, others may do
it for us in an unreasonable way. Even Roger Federer, considered by some as the greatest men’s player
of all-time, is in the midst of changing his equipment to keep up with the times.
Q: Who came up with these experimental formats?
A: The experimental formats were decided upon by the ITA Division I Operating Committee at its annual
meeting during the 2013 ITA Coaches Convention. The Operating Committee makes all rules and policy
decisions for ITA Division I tennis. The committee, selected by the Division I membership, is comprised
of 36 men’s and women’s head coaches, and represents every ITA region and 13 conferences across the
Q. Is the Operating Committee a diverse group in terms of team rankings?
A. Yes, teams holding an ITA Ranking are well represented on the Operating Committee. Five Top 10
and 21 Top 50 teams are coached by Operating Committee members. At the same time, 12 coaches
outside the Top 50 are also members of the committee.
Q. What is the goal of the experimentation with format?
A. The goal of the experimentation with team format is two-fold: 1) to allow an opportunity for coaches
and players to try a different format that might work well for college tennis, and also provide fans with
an opportunity to preview these different formats, and 2) to gather as much data as possible to see if
the experimental formats meet the objective to shorten the length of a team match.
Q: Why are the men and women playing different formats?
A: During the meetings at the ITA Convention, the men’s and women’s subcommittees of the ITA
Division I Operating Committee each felt strongly that there were some key differences in the comparative duration of the points and length of the team match. Accordingly, the two groups decided
to try different formats during the experimental period, with the possibility that the ultimate decision
would be to agree on one uniform format, but keeping open the option of adopting different formats for
each group. This will also provide data on two very different formats, which helps college tennis as a
whole in gaining insight as to what to do next.
Q: Why has the ITA decided to experiment only with doubles-first formats?
A: The ITA Division I Operating Committee strongly favors a team match format that keeps doubles as an
integral part of the match. Approximately 20 years ago, the ITA and the NCAA moved doubles to the
beginning of the team match to highlight the excitement of doubles and to guarantee that doubles
would be included in every team result. Though the Operating Committee is exploring ways to shorten
team matches, it is not in favor of sacrificing doubles to do so. Collegiate doubles is exciting and
highlights teamwork, and has also proven to be a strong pathway to the professional tour.
Q: What is the time frame for the experimentation?
A: The experimentation will span January 1, 2014 until the end of the ITA Division I National Team
Indoor Championships (February 10 for the women, February 17 for the men). These experimental
formats will also be used in team match competition during this time period, unless both coaches agree
Q: What are the main changes I should know about?
A: The best explanation of each format can be found on the ITA Rules page on the ITA website (MEN –
WOMEN). If you have any further questions after reading this, please contact Tom Loughrey
(firstname.lastname@example.org) for men’s format questions or Stephanie Neppl (email@example.com) for
questions about the women’s format.
Q: During the 2014 ITA Kick-Off Weekend, can two teams choose NOT to play a match with the
mandated experimental format if both coaches agree?
A: No. The option for both coaches to agree to not play the ITA Experimental Formats is only permitted
during team matches outside the two ITA national tournaments (ITA Kick-Off Weekend and ITA National
Team Indoor Championships).
Q: Are these format concerns being driven by the big conferences with TV networks? If so, why bother
if my team is never going to make it on TV anyway?
A: As mentioned above, increasing TV opportunity is only one of the objectives for shortening the
format. As the governing body of college tennis, the ITA has responsibility for remaining vigilant in
safeguarding the viability and the integrity of the sport, even if this might involve some degree of
change. Over the past decades, the ITA has adopted a variety of significant changes such as playing
doubles first, the no-let rule for men’s Division I, and pro-sets in doubles.
It should be noted, relative to TV coverage, that the Pac-12 Network has agreed to televise three live
college matches using the ITA experimental formats. Quote from Pac-12.com news release: “We are excited to test the ITA’s format this spring in the Pac-12,
and we are thrilled to be able to bring these matches live to our fans on Pac-12 Networks,” said Pac-12
Commissioner Larry Scott. “With great play in both singles and doubles, Pac-12 tennis is as exciting as
any sport we have in our Conference. This new exposure should bring more fans and attention to our
Q: What is no-ad scoring and what are the benefits?
A: No-ad tennis matches are played as follows:
If a game during a singles or doubles match reaches 40-all (3 points each), the returner decides which
side the point will be started on (deuce or ad court) and the winner of that point wins the game. It’s a
winner-take-all point, which simplifies the scoring to reward the first person to win four points during a
game. This eliminates the possibility of lengthy games and keeps the flow of the match going.
REMEMBER: This change is only being experimented with on the men’s side.
Q: Won’t no-ad scoring be a problem for player development?
A: The ITA has looked back at the impact of no-ad scoring on player development when it was played in
men’s Division I tennis for 15 seasons (1973-1988). This was a very exciting time for American college
tennis, and student-athletes who played no-ad during their college years had great success on the pro
Collegiate players who played no-ad scoring include John McEnroe, Jim Grabb, Brad Gilbert, Paul
Annacone, Mikael Pernfors, Tim Mayotte, Rick Leach and Kevin Curren, among others. McEnroe reached
No. 1 in the ATP Singles Rankings and was an iconic figure for American tennis, and seven collegiate
players reached No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings. In total, 104 players reached the Top 150 in singles
and/or doubles during the no-ad era.
Q: What’s the next step after the experimental period is over?
A: The ITA Division I Operating Committee will review all the statistical data compiled during the
experimental period and will also collect survey results from coaches, players and spectators. At that
point, the Operating Committee will discuss what it feels will work best for Division I college tennis.
Options include keeping the current format, adopting one of the experimental formats or deciding on an