A main plus for the World TeamTennis format is the integration of mixed doubles as a focal point of competition.
© Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA
With every point counting towards the total team score, the World TeamTennis format always provides excitement from first ball to match point.
© Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA
By Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
CARY, N.C. -- The USTA Tennis On Campus (TOC) National Championship is decided using the World TeamTennis (WTT) rules. This unique coed format includes women’s and men’s doubles, women’s and men’s singles and mixed doubles.
"Billie Jean King modeled World TeamTennis after other team sports and formatted it in a way that both men and women would contribute equally to level the playing field," said Elaine Wingfield, WTT Director of Collegiate Competition. "It is wonderful to see men and women work together for a common goal."
During Thursday’s late pool play rounds at Cary Tennis Park, players could be seen checking the back of their score cards to refer to one of the most interesting WTT rules, the super tiebreaker.
"The team that wins mixed doubles can try to battle back in overtime if they are trailing in games. This overtime period is a continuation of the mixed doubles," said Wingfield, who also is serving in a director’s capacity at TOC Nationals. "If they reach a tie, the teams enter a sudden death battle to seven points – the super tiebreaker. World TeamTennis is exciting because every game counts towards the total team score."
In dramatic fashion, the University of Oregon defeated the University of Colorado in a super tie breaker to make for a three-way tie in their pool between Oregon, Colorado and the University of Illinois.
Differentiated by less than one percentage point, Illinois moved on to compete in the Gold division for the National Championship. As luck would have it, this is the second consecutive year Oregon tied in pool play and did not advance to the Gold division. Colorado went on to compete in the Silver and Oregon in the Bronze division.
"It was really nerve racking. We watched their mixed match and as soon as Oregon won, we knew it was a three-way tie," said Illinois sophomore Katarina Marjanovic. "We had a good idea that we would win by percentage since we won big against Oregon, but it was good to have the tournament desk confirm it."
Marjanovic and senior teammate Michelle Perry said they enjoy the WTT format and the cohesive bond it creates within the club tennis teams. Teammates have the opportunity to boost morale with the WTT substitution policy. If a player is struggling, they can sub out and get help from a teammate during the match.
"It’s a great balance between the guys and the girls," said Perry. "The best part is that you can be down, but you’re never really out. With the super tie breaker you can come back in mixed doubles and fight for the win."
Not only can this format make for exciting match finishes, but it also provides a unique atmosphere for great sportsmanship.
"The World TeamTennis format lends itself perfectly to the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship," said Glenn Arrington, National Manager, USTA Tennis On Campus. "The men and women playing together creates a great vibe of sportsmanship that our college athletes really enjoy."