This week is all about college tennis, a sector of the sport that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Tim Cass, the general manager of the USTA National Campus, joins the show to discuss the importance of college tennis and what's being done to help it survive, and even grow.
Cass has been USTA National Campus general manager since 2016, when the sprawling 100-court facility opened in Lake Nona, Fla. He brought his own tennis-rich background to the job, having played at the University of New Mexico before starting a coaching career that included a decade at Texas A&M.
He stresses how important college tennis is for the general ecosystem of the sport, and how hard programs have been hit in 2020 with tennis the No. 1 most-affected college sport. The dual season ended abruptly in March, and since then, nearly 60 programs have been cut at all levels, including 17 at Division I.
"I don’t think people recognize the level of play in college tennis even down to Division III," Cass says. "And the dual match is the exciting piece. Representing your school and wearing your school colors and that team competition is what we need to celebrate."
Tim Cass speaking at the 2019 NCAA National Championships in Lake Nona. (Joe Murphy/USTA)
The USTA is a huge support system, and the National Campus is hoping to host the 2021 Division I NCAA National Championships as well as become the first facility to host all three division NCAA National Championships in 2023.
College tennis has become a proper gateway to the pros with the likes of John Isner, Steve Johnson, Jennifer Brady, Danielle Collins and many more leading the way. Cass discusses why that is, while also highlighting what improvements could be made to make college tennis even more TV, fan and player friendly in the future.
"It’s become a logical route," Cass says. "It’s OK to say, 'I want to go to college.' There’s nothing wrong with that. That doesn’t mean you don't want to be a profession tennis player."
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