Riske makes UTR Pro Match Series final in West Palm, will play Collins or Tomljanovic; Abrams says the Fast 4 scoring is point-less tennis
Alison Riske celebrates defeating Ashleigh Barty at Wimbledon last July. Riske will play in the finals of the UTR Pro Match Series Sunday in West Palm Beach. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Associated Press

Riske makes UTR Pro Match Series final in West Palm, will play Collins or Tomljanovic; Abrams says the Fast 4 scoring is point-less tennis

Collins and Tomljanovic will finish their rain-delayed mach Sunday morning for the right to play Riske.

Day Two of the UTR Pro Match Series in West Palm Beach, FL thankfully had a better level of play than yesterday, but the inherent flaws of a system based on Fast 4 scoring remains, and that is an immeasurable flaw. As long as the pros play matches based on this new scoring system, both the players and the public will remain robbed of top notch competitive tennis. The only way to bring back pro tennis is to bring back traditional scoring. Anything less is a pathway to mediocrity.

The framework of Fast 4 revolves around a player winning a set by getting to four games first, with a tiebreaker played at 3 games-all. Since the games are being played with no-ad scoring, where a player wins a game by winning four points, a Fast 4 set doesn’t even represent half of a traditional set. Since one of the signs of a champion tennis player is stamina and fitness, shortening each set takes away one of the attributes of a great tennis player. Fast 4 makes tennis like a game of HORSE in basketball: good shots count, but fitness means nothing.

Furthermore, when the NCAA eliminated traditional deuce scoring way back in about 1970, it led to the decline of the college tennis system as a pathway to the pro circuit, the way minor league baseball is a road to the majors. Whereas 64 of the 128 men who played in the U.S. Open in 1979 were Americans, and virtually all of them had come through the American college system, even those one year wonders Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, things have changed drastically. In 2018 only 18 Americans made an appearance in the first round of the main draw of the U.S. Open, as I pointed out in an article last May.

Maybe more indicative of the value of traditional scoring comes from the USTA itself. As always, the American Junior who wins the National Juniors at Kalamazoo gets a first round entry into the U.S. Open, as a reward. Yet the champion of the NCAA, where they play no-ad scoring, does not! And by definition, those college players have one to four years more tennis playing experience than Juniors. Clearly, the USTA has shown through its actions that traditional scoring represents a path into the pros, while no-ad scoring does not.

So we have a championship match of a Fast 4 tournament tomorrow, where the winner simply represents the player who can capture more points in a match that can’t, by definition, last more than one and a half traditional sets. Who cares?

Well, the players do. They’re there to win, and there will be a championship match. But only one participant has qualified for that match. Pittsburgh native Aly Riske made her way into Sunday’s championship match by dispatching Danielle Collins 4-1, 1-4, 4-1. Riske appeared steadier than yesterday, and even though she totally whiffed on an overhead in the first set, she gathered herself and won her match more from fortitude than from excellence.

Amanda Anisimova then seized the opportunity and won her first match of the weekend by beating Ajla Tomljanovic 1-4, 4-2, 4-2. This made the day’s final match between Collins and Tomljanovic the match that would determine the second finalist. Unfortunately, the South Florida skies didn’t cooperate, and they opened up with the match tied a set apiece. They’ll take the courts again Sunday morning to see who will win 16 points to advance to the showdown with Riske immediately after.

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