PlaySight Livestreaming 2017 NCAA Championships

Playsight livestreaming at Stanford

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!

College Night at the BB&T Atlanta Open

My day at the tournament started a little earlier than usual. I had met Andrew Carter, who was here as a player in the Qualies, the day before when we wound up sitting next to each other on Stadium Court. As we chatted, I realized his story was one I wanted to share, so I invited him to be my guest on the ParentingAces Radio Show. Thankfully, he agreed! We met in the lobby of the Twelve Hotel at Atlantic Station just before air-time, and had a great conversation about Andrew’s development through the juniors, his 4 years playing at the University of Louisville, and his life as a professional tennis player. Be sure to check out the podcast here.

After the show, I headed over to the courts and got to see some great battles! But, when the rain started moving in, it seemed to be a spoiler alert for the much-anticipated College Night festivities at the BB&T Atlanta Open. The radar looked like a bad acid trip, so I decided to head home to wait out the weather and an announcement from the tournament about whether the matches would be played or rescheduled. As it turned out, the weather cleared, the amazing tournament operations folks got the courts dry, and play resumed late in the afternoon.

The crowd on Stadium Court was full of red and black as UGA recent grad Austin Smith was slated to play Young Gun Taylor Fritz in the first match of the evening. Austin got his lone ace of the match in the first game, but Taylor jumped out to a quick double-break lead before Austin made his way onto the scoreboard. Neither guy was playing his best tennis – and the Hawkeye system certainly didn’t help Austin as he made a couple of incorrect challenges at key moments in the match – but Taylor was able to close out the match with an ace to take it 6-2 6-2 despite the rowdy fans cheering on the Bulldog. “It’s tough when you’re playing a wildcard and the whole stadium is against you,” said Fritz. “It makes it tough, but I was really happy I was able to play within myself and do what I had to do to get the match done in straight sets.” Taylor will play American Bjorn Fratangelo, who is currently ranked just outside the top 100, in the 2nd round tonight.

ricky tweet

With the backup caused by the rain, tournament officials decided to move the other College Night match – a doubles battle between locals Chris Eubanks of Georgia Tech and Zack Kennedy of Georgia State vs. Thiago Monteiro (who Chris beat in the final round of Qualies) and Yoshihito Nishioka. It looked like the Brazilian-Japanese team was going to run away with the match, but our college guys buckled in for the long haul, forcing a second set tiebreak then winning the 3rd set Superbreaker 10-8. As you can imagine with that score, the stats were pretty even throughout the match, so I can only attribute the W to Chris and Zack’s hunger to help Zack earn his first ATP ranking point. For those of you who follow this tournament, you may remember that Chris earned HIS very first ATP point here last summer, partnering with his friend Donald Young to reach the semis of the doubles draw.

Here are the complete results from yesterday along with the schedule for today:

RESULTS – AUGUST 02, 2016

Singles – First Round

[5] F. Verdasco (ESP) d D. Lajovic (SRB) 76(2) 64

H. Zeballos (ARG) d [6] G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 63 67(5) 64

[8] T. Fritz (USA) d [WC] A. Smith (USA) 62 62

B. Fratangelo (USA) d I. Sijsling (NED) 61 76(2)

[LL] T. Kamke (GER) d S. Stakhovsky (UKR) 76(7) 76(2)

Y. Nishioka (JPN) d D. Evans (GBR) 62 67(2) 76(4)

[PR] J. Benneteau (FRA) d [Q] J. Smith (AUS) 64 62

Doubles – First Round

[WC] C. Eubanks (USA) / Z. Kennedy (USA) d [Alt] T. Monteiro (BRA) / Y. Nishioka (JPN) 36 76(6) 10-8

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 03, 2016

STADIUM COURT start 12:00 noon

A. Molteni (ARG) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs [2] R. Lindstedt (SWE) / M. Pavic (CRO)

Not Before 2:00 pm

[3] K. Anderson (RSA) vs [WC] R. Opelka (USA)

Not Before 3:30 pm

T. Smyczek (USA) vs [7] D. Young (USA)

Not Before 6:00 pm

[1] J. Isner (USA) vs A. Mannarino (FRA)

B. Fratangelo (USA) vs [8] T. Fritz (USA)

AJC GRANDSTAND COURT start 12:00 noon

[Alt] D. O’Brien (RSA) / R. Roelofse (RSA) vs J. Brunstrom (SWE) / A. Siljestrom (SWE)

P. Raja (IND) / D. Sharan (IND) vs [4] J. Erlich (ISR) / M. Fyrstenberg (POL)

[1] I. Dodig (CRO) / A. Qureshi (PAK) vs J. Marray (GBR) / A. Shamasdin (CAN)

D. Evans (GBR) / K. Skupski (GBR) vs N. Monroe (USA) / A. Sitak (NZL)

Walker Duncan’s Junior Slam Debut

WalkerDuncan Last Thursday, Walker Duncan got the phone call that he was being awarded a last-minute wildcard spot in the main draw of the Junior US Open (which was starting 3 days later!). This high-school senior from Atlanta had never played in a Junior Slam – what an opportunity! He and his parents quickly scrambled to make travel arrangements to get to New York so Walker would have a chance to get settled in and practice on the courts of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center before his first round match on Sunday. I caught up with Walker in the Player’s Lounge – as you can see from the grin on his face in the photo above, he was thrilled to be here! He talked with me about what it means to play in the Junior US Open and his plans for the future:

Walker’s parents and his brother, Sawyer (who played tennis at Furman University), DuncanFamilywere among the many fans in the stands cheering for Walker during his first round match versus Juan Jose Rosas (Peru). Unfortunately, things didn’t go Walker’s way today, but he’ll have another shot tomorrow in his first-round doubles match with partner Deiton Baughman. Definitely keep an eye on this young man as he finishes his junior tennis career and heads to the University of Georgia next Fall. He’s going to be a great asset to the Bulldogs and coaches Manny Diaz and Will Glenn.

Click on the arrow in the YouTube box below to hear Walker’s take on this exciting opportunity.

 

 

 

What I Learned At The NCAA Championships

trophies

Once again taking the advice of my tennis mentor, Colette Lewis, I would like to share what I learned by attending this year’s NCAA Division I Tennis Championships held at the University of Georgia. Be sure to check out the fun interviews I did during the tournament on the ParentingAces YouTube channel (click here)!

  • Student-athletes have more heart than pretty much anybody in the world. They are willing to lay it all on the line over and over again for their teammates, their coaches, and their schools.
  • The student-athletes who are not done for the academic year still have to take exams and turn in papers even during this biggest tournament of the year. School definitely does not take a back seat to tennis. They have assigned proctors to sit with them during exams, and I saw many an athlete doing homework between matches.
  • Must-haves if you’re going to be in the stands: sunscreen, hat, refillable water bottle, snacks, stadium seat or cushion.
  • The Georgia DOT desperately needs to build a direct interstate route between Atlanta and Athens! Driving back and forth each day reinforced this one big-time for me. The existing routes all include multiple traffic lights and 2-lane roads, making the commute frustrating at best.
  • If you think your child’s days of eating at Panera Bread and Olive Garden end once he/she goes off to college, think again! When the college teams travel to tournaments, Panera and OG are still their go-to’s.
  • Player nicknames are really fun to try to figure out! Sometimes they make obvious sense (“Tay” for Taylor); other times, not so much (“Sarge” for Alex Sarkissian).
  • Junior coaches, at least the ones around here, really dropped the ball during this year’s Championships. I saw some area junior coaches at the matches but very rarely did they have players with them. It was a missed opportunity, in my opinion. How valuable it would be for the juniors to watch the college matches alongside a coach who is asking questions about strokes, shot selection, match preparation, etc.!
  • Tournament officials are tournament officials. Many of the same folks work junior tournaments, college matches, as well as pro events. I saw quite a few calling matches in Athens who I’ve also seen at my son’s junior tournaments. I spoke with one official who has called several of my son’s matches over the years. She told me that juniors’ reputations definitely follow them into college, especially if they wind up attending a school in the same section in which they grew up playing. She also said, “If I’m calling a college match, and a player challenges a call that I didn’t see made by his or her opponent, and I know that opponent from the juniors as someone who makes fair calls, I’m probably going to rule in favor of that player.” Juniors, take note: your behavior NOW matters!
  • The players like having an official in the chair calling their matches, but they dislike having line judges (that only happens during the semis and finals of this event). They feel they are better able to see and call the balls than the line judges and would prefer to maintain that control over their matches. By the way, players are not supposed to call balls when line judges are present. They can challenge a call to the chair, but they are at the mercy of the line judges otherwise.
  • It is really fun to attend the Championships when you know some of the players and/or coaches. My son had a blast this year, watching his buddies compete for their schools and getting to meet their teammates. He also took advantage of the opportunity to meet and shake the hands of several college coaches, opening the door to future conversations during the recruiting process.
  • Sometimes student-athletes decide to take time away from school (usually in the Fall) to try their hand at the pro tour. The winner of this year’s Men’s Singles tournament, Marcos Giron, is planning to do just that.  UCLA men’s assistant coach Grant Chen told me, “Your senior year, you’re allowed to take the Fall off. It won’t hurt your eligibility, and it won’t hurt your standing. Any other year, it can affect both. This is something Marcos discussed with us prior to the NCAAs, so it was no surprise to [head coach] Billy [Martin] or me or to the guys.”
  • I was under the impression that the winners of the individual singles and doubles competitions – if they are American – were guaranteed a wildcard into the US Open. That is not the case. It is at the discretion of USTA whether or not to award those wildcards. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to see ALL of these these talented student-athletes compete again in New York this summer!

 

Interviews at the US Open – College Coaches

I had the opportunity to chat with several of the college coaches who were on site staking out the 2013 crop of top juniors from around the world. Rather than post a separate article for each interview, I thought it might be easier for y’all if I put them all in one article. Hope you learn as much as I did about what these coaches are looking for when watching juniors compete at the highest level!

lisawithramseysmith  Ramsey Smith – Duke University

 

 

 

 

 

lisawithmannydiaz Manuel Diaz – University of Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

lisa&roddickbros John Roddick – University of Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6128 Bryan Shelton – University of Florida

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6115 Steve Denton – Texas A&M

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1695 Rob Gurden – Purdue University

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1590 Danny Bryan – LSU

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1591  Mark Dickson – University of Miami

 

 

 

A Great Fix

I recently met with Ross Greenstein of Scholarship for Athletes to talk about various aspects of junior and college tennis.  Ross grew up playing junior tennis and went on to play at the University of Florida.  He now works with junior players and their families to navigate the college recruiting process, so I trust him as a reliable resource on matters having to do with junior tennis and college.

He asked me to give him the down-and-dirty rundown on what’s going on with the USTA’s proposed changes to the junior competition schedule and the feedback I’ve been hearing from other parents as well as coaches.  Then, he shared with me what I consider a brilliant solution . . .

Instead of making the draws smaller at the big national tournaments (Winter Nationals, National Clay Courts, and National Hard Courts), taking away the opportunity for many junior players to have the experience of playing at these events, why not have 2 equal-sized draws of 128 each where the players ranked 1-128 play in one draw and the players ranked 129-256 play in the other?  There would be a modified feed-in consolation for each draw, so players would either be guaranteed 2 or 3 matches (that detail can be worked out later).  The two separate draws could have a staggered start-date so that court availability wouldn’t be an issue, and play would continue on a daily basis so no player would have a day off, needlessly spending money on a hotel and meals and rental car.

What made Ross come up with such a format?  He says, “I was looking at how many matches are uncompetitive at our national events.  I looked at Hard Courts and Clay Courts in the 18’s for boys and girls this summer, and over 20% of all main draws matches are not competitive.  I would define that as one of the players not getting even 3 games in either set.  6-2, 6-2 is not competitive.”

From the tournament directors’ perspective, this approach is a win-win.  More players means more income from entry fees.  More players also means more revenue for the host community in terms of hotel rooms, restaurants, rental cars, shopping, etc. which makes the event an easier “sell” to potential sponsors.

From the college coaches’ perspective, it’s a win-win.  The coaches from the top D1 schools could focus their time watching Players 1-128, those most likely to be candidates for their programs.  The coaches from the 2nd tier D1 and the D2 and D3 schools could focus their time watching Players 129-256, those most likely to be candidates for their programs.  This format would attract more coaches from a variety of schools, which would give the players and their families a chance to speak to those coaches face-to-face and learn more about the individual programs.

I asked University of Georgia’s Men’s Head Coach, Manny Diaz, what he thought of the proposal.  He says, “I like the idea. In the context of keeping more kids involved in the highest levels of our sport, I would also think having a 64 qualifying draw with 8 qualifiers into a 128 draw would be a good consideration.”  Not a bad addition to the plan, Coach!

From the players’ perspective, it’s a win-win.  More kids get to play in the most prestigious American junior tennis tournaments.  They have the opportunity to play more competitive matches from the get-go since the draws will be separated by ranking, which should avoid that dreaded 0&0 “triple crown” effect that Lew Brewer alluded to when I spoke to him about the smaller draw sizes.  More players have the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with coaches who will be interested in, and have the possibility of, recruiting them.  For those players in the 129-256 draw who aspire to play at a higher-level D1 school, getting their ranking into that top 128 so those coaches will watch them play gives them a concrete goal to work toward for the next year.  For those who say it’s too expensive to travel to these national events, this proposed format would reduce the amount of time you would have to stay at the event by ensuring play (barring weather delays) on consecutive days.  Of course, whether or not a family chooses to travel for a child’s tennis is completely their own decision, but if the child’s goal is to compete on the national level and eventually play college tennis, why not provide a scenario that gives them the best chance of getting into the tournament and playing some good competitive matches while there, not to mention the best chance of being seen by the appropriate college coaches?

And, unlike the “waterfall draws” of our current Southern Level 3 tournaments, under this proposed format the top kids would get the chance to compete against one another, driving each other to get better.  Ross told me the story of a player he worked with a few years ago.  He asked me, “Do you remember when Federer was #1, Nadal was #2, and Djokovic was #3?  Do you know how many times Djokovic played Federer and Nadal that year?  Thirteen times!”  Ross talked about how much Djokovic improved that year, how playing the top two guys drove him to work harder to figure out how to beat them.  He then went on to tell me about his player, ranked #3 in the country, a very strong recruit.  “Do you know how many times my player got to play the #1 and #2 players during his junior year?  Zero!”  That is one of the often-overlooked flaws in our current tournament system.  We need rivalries at the top.  That’s what fuels hard work, ambition, and a hunger to get better.  And it’s one of the reasons we see many college players at the top programs develop to the next level – that daily competition against their peers.

To summarize . . .
Benefits:
  • Better match play for all participants
  • Better for athletes and parents in the recruiting process
  • Better for college coaches in the recruiting process
  • Better for the host city and the tournament director
  • Gives more kids a chance to play the big national events
  • Gives kids concrete goals to shoot for
Negatives:
  • I just don’t see any.  Do you?  If so, please share in the Comments below.