| By Daniel Kresh

Recently, the format of professional doubles in select tournaments has changed, ridding the game of advantage points and playing a tie-break to 10 if the first and second sets are split. This greatly changes the dynamics of the match, and in my opinion, makes doubles tennis more exciting to watch. At any level of tennis, a service break decides sets and ergo, matches. A set is usually won by a margin of at least one service break (a game won by the receiver or receiving team), or in a tie-break set by at least one mini-break (one more point won on the opponents serve then he wins on yours); therefore, break points are crucial. With no advantage scoring, the deuce point becomes a break point, making holding serve a more difficult task. At any level, this means more opportunities to break, and in my opinion, adding more excitement as even more pressure is put on the server.

High school tennis on Long Island is also played without advantage. High school players should be very aware of this and understand how to alter their strategy accordingly. Not only will it be more difficult for you to hold serve, but you will have more opportunities to break. Since the receiver or receiving team chooses the side for the deciding point, factors like whether the server is lefty or righty, or weather conditions, can make the choice of side crucial. It is also important to remember that with the traditional scoring system, games are almost always decided in the advantage court (left half of the court facing the net). The only scores where a game can be decided in the deuce court (right half of the court facing the net) are 15-40 and 40-15, so playing the deciding point in the deuce court might take the server out of their comfort zone.

USTA League tennis has advantage scoring, but a super tie-break in place of the final set. Just like in professional doubles, this means that a win can be achieved without holding the momentum for very long. In a tennis match, there can be many swings in momentum and capitalizing on them can be crucial. With a super tie-break in lieu of a deciding set, a two-hour match could go to a player who only has control of the match briefly. If the sets are split then the match really could go in any direction. Winning the second set does not guarantee that one could keep the momentum through the tiebreak. Every point is crucial here, and matches often go to whoever can raise their game and maintain focus. This was seen at the professional level at Indian Wells this year when Alexandr Dolgopolov & Xavier Malisse won all five of their matches en route to the title in deciding tie-breaks. Tennis fans, USTA players and high school players, should watch and play with a new-found zeal as exciting formats add challenging entertainment to the game we all love.

Daniel Kresh

<p>Daniel Kresh is a USPTA-certified tennis professional who recently accepted the positions of director of junior tennis and assistant tennis professional at the Three Village Tennis Club in Setauket, N.Y. He is also the assistant professional at The Port Jefferson Country Club at Harbor Hills. He may be reached by e-mail at <a href="mailto:dankreshtennis@gmail.com">dankreshtennis@gmail.com</a>.</p>