I had a ball covering the 2017 NCAA Tennis Championships! In addition to the slideshow below, click here to read my post on the Championships, and here and here to listen to my podcasts recorded during the Championships.
Click here to listen to this week’s podcast:
The past 12 days at the NCAAs at the University of Georgia have been incredible! The level of tennis and sportsmanship exhibited by the student-athletes, coaches, and fans (well, mostly!) has been superb. I ran into some old friends (including Stanford Super Fan, Cliff Hayashi!) and made some new ones. I even had the opportunity to meet some long-time digital friends in person – including College10s2day’s Bobby Knight – what a treat!
During the 2nd week of the Championships, the ITA held its annual Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet. It was overwhelming to be in the company of so much College Tennis Royalty! I had the unique privilege of sitting next to Nick Bollettieri throughout the evening and to be regaled by his many, many stories of his life in tennis. I was also sitting adjacent to Hall of Fame Inductee James Blake and had so much fun watching him interact with his adorable little girls.
At this year’s Championships, I wanted to give y’all a glimpse at some of the people who make this event so great, so I reached out to some of the players, parents, and behind-the-scenes folks involved. The volunteers from UGA did an incredible job of keeping things running, including squeegeeing courts, manning the gates, and keeping all of us fed and hydrated. I hope those of you on Twitter and Instagram enjoyed my updates there, too!
In this week’s ParentingAces Podcast, which is a bit longer than usual (sorry!), you will hear from Taylor Davidson, a senior at Stanford; Francesca DiLorenzo, a
sophomore at Ohio State; Chanmeet Narang, the UGA Men’s Tennis Team Manager; Elizabeth Milano, a UGA student and volunteer at the Championships; Tammy Duncan and Olga Reinberg, parents of UGA players; and Beata Redlicki, mom to players at University of Arkansas and UCLA. Please pardon the background noise as these interviews were actually conducted on the grounds of the Championships.
As mentioned in the podcast, entries for the 2nd annual Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tennis Tournament are now open. For the Atlanta tournament (July 17-19) go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/261/. For the Baltimore tournament (August 12-13) go to http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/336/.
To watch the FloTennis profile on Michael Redlicki, click here.
Also, registration for the ITA Summer Circuit is now open. Click here for information.
For more information on the 2017 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships, click here. A huge THANK YOU to the University of Georgia, the NCAA, and the ITA for working together to put on my favorite event in tennis, hands down.
For the past two days – and for the next 10 – I have been in Athens, Georgia at the NCAAs at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. My Happy Place.
I’ve missed attending the NCAA Championships the past two years. For some reason, the Powers That Be thought there was a better place than UGA to host this premier college tennis event. Imagine that! And, after next Monday, Athens won’t see the Championships again until at least 2023. It’s at Wake Forest next year followed by UCF (i.e. the new USTA mega complex in Lake Nona), Oklahoma State, UCF again, then University of Illinois in 2022. Word on the street is that Lake Nona could become the permanent home of the Championships if all goes as planned in terms of attendance and the growth of the UCF tennis program under John Roddick’s guidance. I absolutely wish UCF all the best, but I hate to think of the NCAAs anywhere but Athens.
Driving onto the UGA campus brings back so many fond memories for me. My son attended Bulldog Tennis Camp starting at age 9. My middle daughter spent her college years on that campus. And the energy it exudes during the Jewel in the College Tennis crown is unmatched. To top it off, this campus is the home of the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. If that doesn’t make you believe the Championships belong here, well . . .
into coaches I’ve interviewed. I run into industry people I’ve gotten to know over the past several years. I run into fellow tennis fans that I’ve met on the court myself. It’s just an amazing atmosphere.
Today, I’ll be back out there for four more men’s matches. My alma mater – UCLA – faces my daughter’s alma mater and the host team – UGA – this afternoon. It should be a great match, filled with all the elements that make college tennis so great. And it will be enhanced by the fact that the home team does such a bang-up job at getting its fans out en force to create an energy that rivals any football game.
I’m going to soak up everything about this year’s NCAA Championships because who knows when it will return to its rightful place: the University of Georgia Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
For everything you need to know about this year’s NCAAs, click here to go to the official website. For updates on scores and results during the matches, be sure to follow Bobby Knight @College10s2day on Twitter. I’m tweeting updates and posting on Instagram as well (@ParentingAces).
Today’s schedule: Men’s Quarterfinals
#10 Texas vs. #2 Virginia
#6 TCU vs. #6 Ohio State
#13 UGA vs. #5 UCLA
#9 UNC vs. #1 Wake Forest
Tomorrow’s schedule: Women’s Quarterfinals
#6 Texas Tech vs. #3 Ohio State
#7 Stanford vs. #2 UNC
#9 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Florida
#12 Pepperdine vs. #4 Vanderbilt
Note from Lisa: I seem to be having trouble formatting the photos so that they appear right side up on both computers and mobile devices. Please bear with me as I try to sort this out!
PlaySight, the company behind the video and analytics SmartCourt, is partnering with the University of Georgia to provide livestreaming throughout the upcoming 2017 NCAA Championships.
PlaySight SmartCourt technology is powering over 40 NCAA tennis programs. Among the 16 teams entering the third round of the tennis championships later this week in Athens, 10 on the women’s side and eight on the men’s side use PlaySight technology for video and analytics training, performance and livestreaming.
To tune in to the livestreaming throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, bookmark this page for the live video and live scoring.
PlaySight technology is helping to shine the spotlight back on college tennis after years of losing out to other sports. The sport is full of great stories, coaches and athletes, and together with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, PlaySight is giving the very best sports technology to players and coaches across the country.
Coach Manny Diaz and the University of Georgia Bulldogs were the first NCAA tennis program to invest in PlaySight technology almost four years ago – so it is fitting that one of the finest facilities in the nation is now wired from top to bottom with PlaySight video and streaming technology.
Several schools across the nation – from USC in Los Angeles to Oklahoma State in Stillwater – credit PlaySight technology with improving various aspects of their programs, from training to fan and alumni engagement. Check out what the coaches from the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Cowgirls had to say about PlaySight after the 2016 season (click here to read).
More PlaySight fast facts:
- 12/25 men’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
- 13/25 women’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
- Vanderbilt University is the latest school to add PlaySight
- PlaySight is now working with tennis programs across Divisions 1, 2 and 3
- PlaySight has added two new SmartCourt products – the Live and Play – to provide a more affordable price point for all tennis programs
- PlaySight successfully launched the PlayFair initiative this year along with the ITA, bringing video replay and challenge technology to college tennis – with plans to scale up for the future
To check out which schools are working with PlaySight, or to find out more about their three SmartCourt products, click here.
To watch PlaySight livestreaming from the University of Georgia throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, tune in here.
Note from Lisa: I will be in Athens covering the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships beginning this Thursday. If you plan on being there, too, please find me and say hello!
Click on the player below to listen to the podcast:
Adam Van Zee played his college tennis at D3 Wabash College then coached both the men’s and women’s teams at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. He now works in development at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis while also writing and hosting his own podcast for Division3Tennis.com.
In this episode of the ParentingAces podcast, Adam and I discuss the ins and outs of playing a Division 3 sport. We talk about how to finance a D3 education when the NCAA does not allow for athletic scholarships, how the D3 recruiting and application process works, and how PSAs can use the D3 Recruiting Hub to narrow down their list of potential schools.
NOTE: According to the information I was able to find online, PSAs are allowed unlimited official visits to D3 colleges starting the first day of their senior year of high school. However, they are only allowed one official visit per college. In Divisions 1 and 2, PSAs are limited to 5 total unofficial visits.
If you enjoy the podcast, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes (click here for how-to’s). It helps a lot!
My apologies for the ad-lib from Sully mid-episode!
I’ve recently added and shared several articles and podcasts related to the college recruiting process and figured it might be easier for my readers if I put all the new stuff into one post. In the following bulleted lists, you will find links to the latest information on choosing a college tennis program, collegiate exposure camps, college recruitment camps, and what to look for in a college coach.
While most of the links are for original ParentingAces content, some lead to outside sources as well. Please read and listen and educate yourself as best you can. The college recruiting process is complicated and can be riddled with potholes, so be sure you are well-armed before you jump in!
- Showcases, Combines, & Camps . . .Oh, My! (click here)
- UTR Adds New Recruiting Aid (click here)
- The Relevance of College Rankings (click here)
- Everything An Incoming Freshman Collegiate Athlete Should Expect (click here)
- Go To College Or Become A Pro Player? (click here)
- Get Recruited Faster (click here)
- Intercollegiate Tennis Association Announces 2017 ITA Summer Circuit Powered By UTR (click here)
- Home School Students (click here)
- Preparing for College Tennis (click here)
- USTA Midwest College Showcase and Information Session (click here and here)
- What is the point of college exposure camps? With Ed Krass – includes discount offer! (click here)
- Getting prepared for college recruiting with consultant Tarek Merchant – includes discount offer! (click here)
- How a recruiting consultant can help before – and during – college with TennisSmart’s Sarah Borwell (click here)
- What the USTA is doing to help American juniors get scholarships & succeed in college with Stephen Amritraj (click here)
- Why you should consider D3 college tennis with Adam Van Zee (click here)
Please let me know if there are any other areas of the college recruiting process that you’d like me to address. I love talking about college tennis and am happy to answer any questions you might have via phone, email, or the Comments area below.
College tennis has been one of the things that sets the US apart on the international scene. We are the only country in the world that offers such an incredible opportunity to players once they have reached the end of their eligibility in the junior tennis realm. These young people can continue to develop their skills on the court while simultaneously developing their skills in the classroom, in many cases having that court and classroom time subsidized to at least some degree via athletic scholarship money. Many of the top professional players – admittedly, mostly on the men’s side of the game – credit their college playing experience with their success on tour, players like John McEnroe and his brother Patrick, Bob and Mike Bryan, James Blake, John Isner, and Stevie Johnson among others.
And it’s not just professional tennis that is positively impacted by the college version of the sport. Junior tennis is affected as well, maybe even more deeply. Imagine if college tennis scholarships weren’t there as a carrot to young players and their families. How many would continue to pursue the sport at a high level knowing that they may not have the skills or desire necessary to make it professionally and that their high-level competitive tennis experience would end after high school? Yes, there are Tennis On Campus programs around the country now, but in most cases they are more recreational in nature and cannot (and should not) take the place of tennis at the varsity level.
But we are seeing a very disturbing trend in the world of college tennis, one that needs to stop before there is no longer a such thing as NCAA tennis. According to a recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) study, “During the first decade of our research study (1970-1979), we have record of only 3 programs being dropped. In the next decade (1980-1989), the rate of elimination increased to 43 known programs dropped. In the next decade (1990-1999), the rate of program elimination tripled, with 137 known programs dropped. In the next decade (2000-2009) the U.S. Financial crisis played a role and increased the number of dropped programs to 204. In addition, more than 177 programs were dropped over two decades (1980- 2002), with precise years unknown. The trend of dropped programs, although continuing, appears to be slowing, with 40 programs known to have been dropped during the most recent decade.”
Granted, most of the cuts are happening at mid-major schools as opposed to Power 5 Conference members. Just in the last two weeks we’ve had news of two more universities (UMBC & Hartford) dropping both men’s and women’s tennis. Because these are smaller schools, they get little attention, but please understand that these are the programs where most of our juniors are going to wind up attending since the Power 5 schools mainly focus on Blue Chip and 5-star recruits.
We’ve all felt pretty helpless to do anything to stop the bleeding. Of course, the ITA has always encouraged those on its mailing list to send a form letter to university officials asking them to reconsider the cuts, but this form letter was innocuous at best, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of a single case where the letter-writing campaign worked.
Thankfully, we now have new leadership at the ITA, one that has very strong roots in the college tennis world, and one that seems to be taking these latest program cuts personally. ITA COO, Erica Perkins Jasper:, whose previous position was Head Coach of the University of New Mexico Women’s Tennis Team, understands the impact these cuts can have. Upon hearing this week’s announcement of the cancellation of both the men’s and women’s tennis programs at University of Maryland Baltimore County (click here to read the full announcement) she stated in an email to me, “The ITA stands with Coach Rob Hubbard and the members of the UMBC tennis family in seeking reconsideration of the university’s decision with the ultimate reinstatement of the tennis programs. We encourage the UMBC tennis community to rally in support of their players and coaches.”
And rally they have! Take a look at this piece that aired on the local ABC affiliate in Baltimore this week:
Rob Hubbard is the Head Coach of both the men’s and women’s teams at UMBC. He has turned to social media to show his support for his players and to make sure other programs take notice of what is happening out there. “The turnout in support of our men’s and women’s tennis teams is phenomenal. This only confirms how lucky I am to coach these kids and just how truly special they are. I couldn’t be prouder of these young men and women. I have been truly blessed and it has been an honor and a privilege to coach them.”
Unfortunately, it is very likely that Coach Rob’s teams won’t be the last cuts we hear about. ITA CEO Timothy Russell shared, “Sadly, the loss of college tennis programs is still a reality in today’s intercollegiate athletic environment. The new leadership of the ITA is committed to addressing this trend. The ITA has been speaking with college presidents, AD’s, conference commissioners, current players, alums, and fans in order to better understand how to raise the profile of college tennis, and make our sport more vibrant and relevant. We plan on unveiling our new strategic plan for the ITA and college tennis towards the end of the first quarter of 2016. Hopefully, colleges and universities will remain committed to broad-based sports offerings including tennis. The ITA plans to work with our coaches to be proactive in assuring that their teams are integral members of their campuses and local communities and that cutting tennis teams will never be an option.”
I haven’t even mentioned the effect these cuts have on the players themselves. I can’t imagine the stress they feel, not only having to handle their studies and current responsibilities to their school but also having to reopen their recruiting to find a new home. It’s especially tough for the upperclassmen who may only have one or two years of eligibility left. Who’s going to take them?
I keep hoping USTA will take a stronger stance when word of these program cancellations gets out, but, so far, I’m not hearing much from our governing body. While it’s clear that USTA values college tennis as evidenced by its College Tennis FAQ, the existence of the National Collegiate Team, and coaching support offered to players, I just wish someone (Stephen Armitraj or Katrina Adams maybe?) would make some significant noise to help preserve this unique and very valuable asset of ours. At the very least, USTA ought to be alarmed over the fact that we have a university referencing the downward trend of the sport as rationale for cutting its teams. Growth of the sport is USTA’s responsibility and is at the core of its Mission Statement: To Promote and Develop the Growth of Tennis.
For the future of our sport, it is imperative that we stand up for college tennis and find a way to convince university presidents, athletic directors, and the NCAA to leave these teams off the chopping block. We all have to show our support by attending matches, getting involved by sending our junior players to summer tennis camps on campus, and working with the players in their various fundraising efforts. These players work incredibly hard to make their universities proud both on the court and in the classroom. We have to do whatever we can to ensure they continue to have the opportunities that only college tennis can provide. Please take the time to get to know your local college teams and to let them know you support them. Read Bobby Knight’s post on ZooTennis for more ideas.
To the college coaches who might be reading, now is the time to make the extra effort to show how your team contributes to the overall success of your school. Why not engage the marketing students to create campaigns to boost attendance at home matches? Why not engage the IT students to come up with ways to engage the community via social media and livestreaming? Why not engage local businesses by hosting pro-am events where your varsity players partner with business professionals (which, by the way, could lead to some pretty incredible internship opportunities)? Why not team up with your Tennis On Campus and Club Tennis players to help out on Match Day? Why not follow UMBC’s lead and invite other athletic teams on campus to become your biggest fans?
Don’t let another program be cut just because the Powers That Be don’t see the value in keeping varsity tennis alive. #SaveCollegeTennis