NCAA tennis proposal draws concern of USTA

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The NCAA will consider a proposal next month to shorten tennis matches, adopt a new tiebreaker format and modify the NCAA tourney.

If approved, all singles matches would be contested in a best-of-three set format with a super tiebreaker used in the third set. The first player to 10 would win the match.

Doubles matches would use a six-game set with a tiebreaker at 6-all.

In addition, warm-ups with opponents would be eliminated and the time between changeovers would be reduced from 90 seconds to 60 seconds.

The U.S. Tennis Association issued a statement Friday saying it would send a letter to the NCAA in opposition to the proposal.

NCAA officials say the recommendations are based on feedback it received from college coaches to give the sport more exposure.

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A new NCAA proposal could change the way college tennis is played and current players aren't happy about it.

The move is intended to shorten matches with a new tiebreaker format and modify the NCAA tournament format in hopes of giving the sport more exposure. The governing body's Championships/Sports Management Cabinet will consider the proposal at next month's regularly-scheduled meeting in Indianapolis.

If approved, beginning in 2014, all singles matches would be contested in a best-of-three set format with a super tiebreaker used in the third set. The first player to 10 would win the match. Doubles matches would use a six-game set with a tiebreaker at six-all.

In addition, warm-ups with opponents would be eliminated and the time between changeovers would be reduced from 90 seconds to 60 seconds.

Players don't like it one bit.

Stanford's Nicole Gibbs, the reigning NCAA women's champ, wrote on Twitter: "I play tennis for tennis, not for tv coverage and frat boy attendance. Playing a tb for a third set compromises the integrity of the sport!"

And the U.S. Tennis Association and Intercollegiate Tennis Association have said they intend to send a formal letter opposing the changes to the NCAA this week.

"The USTA is aware of the proposed format changes being made by the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee to the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Championships," the statement said. "Working with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), the USTA is preparing a joint opposition letter to these changes."

But in a statement sent to The Associated Press, the NCAA contends the changes are merely a reflection of the membership's wishes.

"The recommendations are based on consensus from Division I coaches that a change was necessary to reduce the current length of dual matches and to bring greater exposure to college tennis through fan support and media opportunities, while also not lessening the participation and preserving doubles play -- a priority for student-athletes and coaches alike, " the statement said.

These changes could have a far-reaching impact on a sport that has not traditionally used tie-breakers in the final set of professional matches.

Opponents have started a Facebook page called "Official-Against the changes to NCAA Tennis" in hopes to influence next month's vote in Indianapolis.

There is also a provision in the proposal that would reduce the number of days spent at the national tournament's finals site, from 12 to eight, and would create a new regional round. If approved four teams, rather 16, would advance to the national finals. The semifinals and finals would then take place over the first two days of the tourney with the other six days used to determine individual singles and doubles champions.