January 23, 2014
Happy Short Work Week Everyone!
What a great start to the season last weekend with many balls struck and points won by Alabama men's tennis from sunrise to sunset. The Tripleheader presented a good challenge for the team as well as many opportunities for fans to see lots of tennis throughout the day. We had several noteworthy items on the agenda outside of the not-so-typical 3-matches-in-1-day. These included an experimental scoring format, the Crimson Racquet Club hospitality room, player bio boards, a pre-match chalk talk, a private group tailgate, ball runners and large crowds. Each added to the atmosphere and definitely made an impact to the coach, player and fan experience.
The ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association), our governing board, adopted a new scoring format in response to the NCAA Championships Committee requesting that college tennis speed up play to retain and attract fans as well as have more opportunities to be on television. So after lengthy discussions at our coaches convention in December the following scoring was decided for men's tennis:
▪ Doubles sets to be played to 6 (instead of 8), with no-ad scoring and a tiebreaker at 5-all
▪ Singles sets to be played to 6, with no-ad scoring and a tiebreaker at 5-all
▪ No warm-up with the opponent before the doubles or singles matches begin
▪ Doubles would be stopped once the point was clinched & singles would be stopped once the match was clinched
So overall the new scoring presented something new in terms of much shorter matches (wins over UAB and Troy came in less than 2 hours) and put a much stronger emphasis on holding serve in doubles (especially if you decided to serve first). All in all, I'm a fan of no warm-up, I don't mind the no-ad scoring as it adds an element of pressure/importance to the deuce point but I'd would prefer the original 8-game pro-set for doubles.
New to Crimson Racquet Club memberships this year is access to a hospitality room where snacks and drinks will be available for all members to enjoy at each home match. There is a Bama decorated room at the indoor facility just below the seating that will be used for our indoor matches and the newly updated player lounge will be used for outdoor matches. All members please stop by and pick up something to eat and drink!
Player Bio Boards are now on display on the upper level for both the men's and women's programs along with framed team pictures and marketing material (posters, schedule cards, CRC membership forms). The staff felt it was important for all of you, our fans, to get to know the players outside of their name and headshot as well as pick up some items to post on your wall, door or refrigerators at home.
A pre-match chalk talk was held prior to the Troy match in the player lounge for approximately 20 people. This time around it was men's player Brian "BC" Conlon and team stringer Brent Goodbrake that delivered information about the upcoming match against the Trojans. It's our intent to have these talks at each home match and provide some important details about the Tide's opponent, keys to the match and a few things you might not know about if you simply just showed up at the match.
The chalk talk was held for members of North River Yacht Club who held the inaugural pre-match tailgate in the player lounge. Several members brought their children, their friends or simply themselves to the match an hour early to have something to eat and drink before cheering on Bama. Thanks to Paul Varner for communicating with the NRYC members about this function. This room will be available for groups throughout the season so please contact us if you're interested in doing something similar.
Ball runners (ball boys & girls) got a good workout during the Troy match. We've dubbed them "Bama Ballers" and we're so happy to involve boys and girls in our matches. It adds to the atmosphere as well as provides young players the opportunity to see how hard the college players hit the ball, move on-court and also feel the intensity during a match. Again, please contact us should you know of a great Bama Baller prospect.
And oh what great crowds we had last weekend. Many thanks to all of you that attended as well as to our Marketing department, Alabama Aces and Team Manager Megan Fudge for promoting our season opener in the community and online through social media. We look forward to building on those crowds and providing more excitement for all of you.
Game Balls were awarded to Daniil (UAB), BC (Alabama A&M) and Saxon (Troy). Speaking of BC, his appearance against Alabama A&M was very special as he returned to the courts for competition after battling with deteriorating cartilage and excruciating pain in his left knee. Following his two wins, he decided to change his role on the team. He will now focus on reaching out to and establishing better relationships with our fans while also assisting with an alumni reunion and fundraising for the program. I couldn't think of a better person to serve in this role as BC's passion and personality will keep pushing the Crimson Tide to the next level.
This week we've packed our bags with sunglasses, flip-flops and sunblock as we travel to Pepperdine for the ITA Regional Kickoff Weekend. On Friday, January 24 at 1pm PST, Alabama will square off against #16 Cal. Pending on the outcome of that match, the Tide will face either #12 Pepperdine or #41 San Diego on Saturday. Winning both matches will punch a ticket to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships held on Feb 14-17 in Houston. After a quick road trip to Austin for a match with Texas on Feb 1, we'll return home on February 8&9 and battle #51 Oklahoma State and #9 Oklahoma.
We look forward to seeing you soon at home or on the road.