Saturday, September 29, 2012

10-Point Tie Break

I now dislike the 10-point tie break.

When it first emerged as a replacement to the third set I thought it was a good idea. I know several tournament directors and it greatly simplified their jobs. Scheduling was much easier without the full third sets. But with all due respect to tournament directors, tennis is not about them. It's about the players.

I began to have my doubts about the match tie break about a year ago when a friend lamented the decline in physical fitness as an element in tennis due to the elimination of the third set in matches. I no longer play competitive tennis so I hadn't experienced that personally. But I do remember that when I was playing, I thought the physical element of matches was important. I always prided myself on not getting tired and knowing that my opponent may tire was always an element in competitive matches I played.

Now I'm just a coach and spectator and most of the competitive matches I see don't have the match tie-break. They are high school or college matches that only use the match tie break if the team match is already decided (which I still think is fine). So I still see the effects of physical, mental, and emotional stress that comes with third sets.

It bothers me that in smaller tournaments, and in some cases pretty big tournaments, the third sets are disappearing. The two out of three set match defines tennis, to me. The three out of five set match is the pinnacle of the game. Anything less than two out of three sets is just messing around, whether it's playing tie breaks, games to eleven, or what have you.

It's a shame that tournaments are now resembling messing around.

One final tidbit. I was curious how many points are in the average set. Stats from the 2012 US Open showed that in both men's and women's matches, the sets averaged around sixty points. Games averaged six points and sets averaged ten games. I don't know how long the average 10-point breaker is, but let's just say it's 18 points. That's about a third the points of the average set. If it's fifteen points we're down to a quarter the length of an average set. That's just too short to decide a match between equals. That's not tennis, to me.

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