Maryland high schools combine girls and boys tennis

After decades of MCPS having girls tennis in the fall and boys tennis in the spring, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) has decreed that school tennis seasons must be held at the same time that regional and state championships take place. In most counties in Maryland, both the boys and girls tennis seasons take place in the spring, yet in Montgomery County, the two teams have always been separate, with girls in the fall and boys in the spring.

Per MPSSAA rules, tennis state championships take place during the spring, so this rule forces all MCPS girls teams to move to the spring. Montgomery County Public Schools athletic director Jeff Sullivan and various officials in the county are supportive of the separate seasons system because it “got more rackets in kids’ hands and got more people involved in the sport, and we thought our model was one that other jurisdictions could look at,” Sullivan told Bethesda Magazine.

According to Bethesda Magazine, people are also upset about the new MPSSAA rules because they feel that it unfairly targets MCPS girls tennis teams, as they are the ones facing the season change. Because of this, a petition to keep tennis in the fall has been circulating around the county and has received almost 700 signatures.  Not only does having separate seasons allow for more athletes to be involved in the sport, but it also ensures that both teams don’t have to compete for practice space and time. This issue is especially important at a school like Poolesville which only has four courts, which is an extremely small number and difficult to accommodate two separate teams. This puts a strain on the coaches who could possibly have to choose between practices and matches that are at the same time, according to the petition.

Another issue expressed in the petition is that “over 98% of the girls players do not even participate in the state tournament, yet these girls and their coaches would be compelled to make major sacrifices for the handful of girls that might.”   

This outrage around the county is also felt at Poolesville. Junior Paulina Mnev, a member of the girls tennis team, says that “As a whole team, we’re all really upset about MCPS deciding to move the season to the fall.”

She voices similar concerns stated in the petition, mainly focusing on the fact that since Poolesville already has so few tennis courts, it would be extremely difficult to be able to fit double the amount of players for practice.   

Humanities junior Isabel Huntley voices opinions about the decision. She says that by moving the team to spring, she “will have to choose between participating in the musical and playing tennis.”

Similarly, junior Patrick Rodriguez of the boys tennis team says that by combining the teams, the diminished practice time would “just create frustration and give us all less time to play the sport that we love.”

The new MCPS tennis schedule is going to start immediately with the 2018-2019 school year.