Now retired from coaching tennis, I marvel at the changes in the game. The US OPEN men’s singles match between Nadal and Theim may have been the longest match ever played at that level of play. In 2012 it was apparent the next tactical gold mine was the drop shot. Now they have perfected how to defend this nightmare. What is next?
1. Temperature control. Eight players retired with heat the victor in early play.
2. Two of the all time best (and toughest) men–Federer and Nadal were victims, one to heat, one to injury. The parity of the players, and the number of them, has combined with technology to the point that even the fittest succumb. Somewhat like pro football, who is left at the end, wins. Most obvious first rule change: Only 2 of 3 sets.
3. There were no referees in small college team tennis matches when I began coaching. Players made all calls. The home coach was in charge of decisions. Some “goat rodeos” in those days. The point penalty system gave our new found referees a way to control misbehavior. Took a while. Illie Nastase shouted at the “cyclops” prototype “…you made in Russia!” The new machines can make a call as narrow as a blade of grass. Little arguments with modern line calls. The
2018 NCAA Mens Singles finals featured Wake Forest’s #2 player beating Wake’s #1 player in the finals. I witnessed a similar situation 45 years ago.
Small colleges often played in the NAIA. Presbyterian College of Clinton, SC was coached by Jim Shakespeare. And, similarly, their #1 (George Amaya) played their #2(Milan Kofol) for the title. The chair umpire and only official was the impeccable Mr. Marvin Richmond. Mr. Richmond, a small but quite neat man, had served a term as the head of the USTA.
College tennis was growing fast and needed rules. The NAIA had its unique behavior rule which simply stated ONE WARNING, SECOND OFFENSE—GAME. This was also before tiebreakers. Early in the close and heated (for teammates)match Mr. Richmond had given Kofol with a warning. At 7/7 in the final set, Amaya broke Kofol for the first service break in the set. This made the score 8/7 with Amaya to serve for the match. Kofol reeling from losing his serve, made the fatal mistake of underestimating the rules. Approaching his seat for the change over, he angrily threw his racket at his chair. Stunned, the quiet crowd heard a big voice from the small referee: “Penalty two. GAMES 9-7. Mr Amaya is the NAIA MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPION!”
Understandably Coach Shakespeare objected. His reason: “You can’t make that call, this is the national championship!” As Mr. Richardson descended to the bottom rung of umpire’s chair he straitened his necktie, turned to the coach and players and declared “WHAT BETTER TIME TO MAKE THE PROPER CALL.” And walked away.
There is written proof of my sincere admiration for the Williams family and what all they have accomplished over the years. At the same time, having watched more tennis this year than ever, my major complaint has been “…the rules do not allow throwing and/or damaging your racket. Male or Female, any day.
The rules are important. Examples are important.
Fewer rackets will be thrown.

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