I am new here, but have attended the last 5 NCAA team tournaments as an avid
but very disappointed UVA fan. I doubt those advocating "no changes" have attended very many. From this fan's viewpoint the current format is ridiculous and it takes way, way too long and is very expensive for any fan who stays all 5 days for the team event to play out.
Then when you add on the individual event that starts the very next day, it becomes an endurance contest for the top players on the top teams and it is not good for their health. I think USC's Steve Johnson played singles and doubles on Friday with a day off on Saturday and then singles and doubles (maybe he lost before the finals in doubles?) for 10 consecutive days in the 90+ degree temperatures and it probably was over 100 on the hard courts at UGA. I heard that he almost had a heat stroke during the individual event.
The first 4 days of the current format starts with matches at 9AM and they usually end around midnight. Who can watch 15 hours of college tennis for 4 straight days? The answer of course is no one can, except many of the wonderful volunteers and administrative staff have to be there.
One thing for sure, the players and coaches do not watch the other teams play unless it is an unlucky assistant who is scouting. You will sometimes see a player, who has to stick around for the individual event, and his coach whose team has lost come over to watch but I think it is mostly to scout a future opponent or just avoid the boredom of the hotel room. The rest of the smart players and coaches are in air conditioning somewhere after practicing in the morning and then they wait and wait some more.
There is a little shade at UGA, but most of the seats are in the sun on hard metal benches, so I dare anyone to seat in the hot sun from 9 AM until the sun sets around 7:30 PM and then stay through midnight when the last match ends on the first 4 days. The reality is that 95% to 99% of the fans, who do come, only come to watch their own teams play and then they leave.
At UGA last year there were very good crowds (for tennis anyway), like over 2,500 when UGA played in the quarters against Pepperdine. Had UGA advanced to semis and finals they would have had huge crowds, but when they had to go indoors for the finals due to rain there would not have been enough room for all of them to watch it.
The rest of the time I doubt there were 500 fans there at any one time. At Tulsa the place was deserted as Tulsa lost early. Same thing at College Station as A & M lost early. Stanford was a little better, but the Stanford men made it to semis that year and the women may have made the finals. The two NCAA's at UGA have had the best attendance and that is because the UGA fans are tennis crazy.
I think this is mostly about TV and $$$. ESPNU had been televising the finals, but they did not do so this past year. They most likely need a guarantee of shorter matches, because they cannot stay on the air if the match runs 4 or maybe even 5 hours as some women's matches have in the past. TV has schedules to keep and a 3 hour window is likely what they want.
The obvious (to me anyway) solution is to add a super regional for the 16's and quarters. The local fans would come out and watch. Then you have a final four. From an attendance viewpoint and IMO playing the final 4 at a neutral site will be a mistake. I prefer it to be at the highest seed remaining home courts.
As to the scoring, with a Final 4 fatigue and 15 hour days no longer a factor if you go to the super regional for the quarters. I would not change the scoring. I would play the singles first, which of course means doubles would rarely be played because they stop the matches at 4 points. As fan I do like to watch doubles, but almost always the team that wins the doubles point, quickly wins three singles matches often at the bottom of the lineup, so quite often the 1 and 2's never finish their singles matches and they are the ones who people like to watch play. With doubles last, at least one more singles match would have to be played out.
As we all know there are very few "big" upsets in college tennis. Maybe when the 8 seed plays 9, 10 plays 7, or when 4 and 5 play in the quarters, but the number 8 seed is not going to beat #1 and the bottom four seeds are not going to beat the the top four seeds in the round of 16.
Except for the likelihood that TV $$$ are driving this format change, I would just add the quarter final super regional and leave the scoring the same. I can live with doubles being first, but I do think playing it last would be incredible exciting for any match tied at 3-3.
I am not sure when and where you play the individual event, but I guess it would follow a few days later.
Last year at the finals 2 UVA players had leg cramping problems in the finals vs USC, so fatigue can be an issue the way it is now. I think that without the cramps UVA may well have won, but USC had no problems and UVA was to blame for its own cramping problem IMO.