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NCAA Tennis: Proposed Rules Changes Are a Double Fault

John Isner, along with many other former and current collegiate tennis players, is opposing proposed NCAA rules changes.
John Isner, along with many other former and current collegiate tennis players, is opposing proposed NCAA rules changes.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIAugust 18, 2012

The NCAA's proposed rules changes to college tennis are detrimental to the association's main objective of enhancing the sport's marketability. Additionally, the changes are also an inhibitor to the development of its student athletes, whether they desire a career in tennis or not.

A double fault, if you will.

As reported by Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, singles players would only play two sets, with the third, decisive set being a 10-point tiebreaker.

Changeover rest periods would last only 60 seconds instead of 90 seconds, and players won't even be able to warm up with their opponents prior to the match.

In doubles, the collegiate standard of eight-game pro sets will be diminished to six games per frame.

Rothenberg's article also documents plenty of irked reactions from players and coaches on Twitter, showing that the NCAA doesn't seem to have many supporters in their corner.

The NCAA really believes fans will support the quickened pace of the game when the people directly involved are railing against it.

Totally logical. The new protocol will diminish the spirit of the game and, if anything, diminish interest in the sport rather than give it a jolt.

Sports Illustrated's Courtney Nguyen raises provocative questions about the nature of tennis at the next level and how the NCAA may harm player development:

How will having a singles player play a match tiebreaker prepare him or her for the physical and mental challenges of competing on tour, where the ability to win three-set matches is the bread-and-butter of any successful career?

When the United States Tennis Association and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association are teaming to write a letter against such drastic changes, it's probably a bad move.

However, the NCAA apparently refuses to see it that way, and there's a reason for their reasoning.

This is a classic money grab that is totally going to backfire, as many such transactions do. Nguyen points out that many talented prospects would forgo college if it wasn't a suitable launching point for a successful career.

Thus, it would harm the quality of tennis in college. In addition, it would cause more players to make the leap too early and likely flame out before reaching their full potential.

Suddenly, once promising tennis players are stuck without a viable backup plan, because they felt strongly about making it in tennis. Driving bright kids away from a college education is also going to be part of the blowback to these rules changes.

Although it may be a small aspect in the grand scheme of things, it is a microcosm of how collegiate sports operate today. The words flanking the hyphenated "student-athlete" label might as well be flipped. Those are the terms in which the NCAA is thinking in making these business decisions.

The NCAA is once again taking a predatory marketing approach in the name of TV contracts, revenue and deepening their already loaded pockets. Meanwhile, education is a lesser priority, and strict rules are still enforced to keep student athletes in line.

You might say, "Well, too bad. It's a business."

I get that, but that doesn't mean it's right.

There wouldn't be a petition underway at if these adjustments to college tennis weren't a serious issue.

Bottomless self-servitude at the top of society's organizations and institutions continues to go unchecked, and this situation is no exception.

In this particular instance, the greed of the elites comes at the expense of student-athletes and coaches who themselves provide the entertainment that is college tennis.

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