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Women's tennis gets taste of rule changes

BY JOSH HICKS | FEBRUARY 03, 2015 5:00 AM

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After a number of experimental rule-changes were toyed around with in the spring of 2014 and no-ad scoring was implemented in the fall of that year, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association has finalized its rules for the spring 2015 season, which became effective on Jan. 1. That does come with a caveat, however, as the rules will revert to the previous format in conference play.

And after only one match in the spring season, the Iowa women’s tennis team has experienced a change firsthand.

On Jan. 31, Iowa’s Anastasia Reimchen experienced one of the rule changes in her singles match, which was the last to finish against Northern Iowa.

The freshman’s match featured the new 10-point tiebreaker rule. Reimchen won (6-4, 7-6 [10-8]. The rule states that the first player in the tiebreaker to score 10 points and win by 2 is the victor.

“It was tough,” she said. “It’s always hard playing against another lefty, and it was the first time I’ve been the last match playing while I’ve been here. I was nervous, I was shaking, but it’s always a nice feeling to know that your teammates are there, shouting for you and cheering you on.”

There are other rules that have been part of an effort to shorten the length of matches and make college tennis a more appealing sport for fans to watch.

One of the more controversial rule changes is the abandonment of the final doubles match in the case of one team already having a lead of 2-0. Of course, this eliminates the third match and doesn’t affect the team’s record.

With the old format and no “clinch” policy, the third match would have still been played despite having no bearing on the doubles point in that meet.

Even more, no-ad scoring has been officially implemented. In the past, the doubles matches were much longer. They were played in an eight-game, pro-style set with regular ad-scoring. Matches could sometimes last as long as four hours.

“Immediately the matches are going to be shorter because you’re taking those long deuce games out of it,” Hawkeye head coach Katie Dougherty said. “It’s not about luck or chance. It’s about stepping up and playing that big deuce point just like we’ve talked about all year.”

After experimenting with the changes before they became official, the Hawkeyes said they are mostly used to the changes and look forward to playing tennis and starting a new season together as a team.

Senior Katie Zordani and sophomore Aimee Tarun seemed more excited that it was time to get into the format of dual-match play. They’re champing at the bit to move away from the fall, which is less team-oriented.

“It’s different than in the fall because the fall is more individualized tournaments,” Zordani said. “The spring season is all dual matches. Six singles and three doubles; in order to win the doubles point, you need to win two out of three. The team thing becomes more important.”

And if the 7-0 victory over the Panthers is any indication, the Hawkeyes are adjusting well to the format change. However, they know they still have work to do.

“The format that we’re playing in from now until [conference play] also has no-ad scoring, which has not been the case in the past,” Zordani said. “So some extra sets in practice will help us to have an edge on the no-ad points. Figuring out how to better ourselves at winning those points is going to be crucial for the season.”

Follow @joshhicks90 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s tennis team.


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