NORMAN, Okla. -- Sooner tennis will take center court on a new weekly series developed by ESPN and the U.S. Tennis Association.
College MatchDay will debut this week and highlight the marquee teams and best matchups coast-to-coast in NCAA Division I tennis.
The series premieres Friday, Feb. 7, when the No. 8 Oklahoma men’s tennis team visits 37th-ranked Florida State. The 4 p.m. Central match will broadcast live online and via mobile devices on ESPN3.
“We’re excited about the College MatchDay initiative that the USTA is putting out,” OU men’s head coach John Roddick said. “We’re fortunate to be the first match on it. It’ll be a different atmosphere that day but I think it’s something that overall is a very good thing for college tennis to get that kind of exposure on ESPN3.”
OU’s women’s tennis, currently ranked No. 28, will be featured on the ESPN3 series in a non-conference Bedlam matchup in Stillwater on March 9.
“Both teams are truly honored that College MatchDay has chosen our rivalry to be televised this spring,” OU women’s head coach David Mullins said. “Both programs have improved tremendously over the last five years and we have had some great battles with a lot of really high quality tennis in recent times.”
The two matches will follow a unique, experimental format, as proposed by an advisory group of NCAA Division I athletic directors: all six singles matches will be played first, best of three tiebreak sets, with each singles match worth one point toward the team total.
“Tennis has fallen behind some other college sports in recent times due the length of our dual meets and difficulty in televising six separate courts of play,” Mullins said. “Our hope is that a shortened format and advances in technology will help the promotion of college tennis, including more television exposure.”
Once one team reaches four points and clinches the match, the remaining matches will not be completed. In the case of a 3-3 tie after the singles matches, three doubles matches – played using 10-point super tiebreakers – will be used to determine the winner in what amounts to college tennis’ version of “overtime.”
“I’m excited to try the format that we have to play that day,” Roddick said. “I’ve been behind trying singles first so I want to try it and see how it goes. It’ll be a little different for our guys coming from a preparation standpoint.”
Along with the match being delivered by ESPN3, those in attendance will have the opportunity to experience the 53-foot Fan Experience trailer where they can engage in a number of activities before and during the match.
“Our goal as a coaches association is to ensure that our sport and student-athletes receive the recognition they deserve,” Mullins said.
The Sooners join 32 other schools chosen to be featured on College MatchDay including Big 12 rivals TCU, Texas and Baylor. The nationwide series spotlighting college tennis will feature 22 matches on 18 different campuses in 2014, 10 of which will be delivered by ESPN3.