Girls tennis season moved to spring


To align girls tennis season with other counties and the state tournament, MCPS moved the season to the spring. Photo by Matei Fawzy.

By Lily Friedman

Every year, the girls tennis season starts in August and ends in October. Although the season finishes during the fall, the state tournament takes place in May. But starting in the 2018-2019 school year, the team will take the courts in the spring.

In response to complaints from other counties, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) mandated that no athlete can participate in a state tournament without playing in the same season as the tournament. To comply with the mandate, MCPS moved the girls season to coincide with the boys season in the spring.

Montgomery County was the only county in the state that split up boys and girls tennis seasons, so some school systems worried about unfairness in state championships, MPSSAA executive director Andy Warner said.

“Several school systems expressed concern over the equity of participation at state championships by students who are out of season and play other spring sports,” Warner said. “Those concerns were brought to the tennis committee and the executive council, who spoke about it and voted to strip tournament eligibility from anyone who doesn’t play during the season that aligns with the championship.”

Although the state didn’t require MCPS to move the tennis season, players couldn’t participate in the state tournament unless MCPS changed the season, so the county altered their dates.

The new schedule for the girls tennis season creates numerous logistical issues, girls and boys tennis coach Jasen Gohn said.

“I like to keep about 18 girls and 18 boys on the team, but 36 is too many kids for our 8 courts, so I may have to take smaller teams,” he said. “I’m the coach for boys and girls, so we’ll almost definitely need to hire a second coach for both teams or have one coach for each gender.”

In addition to Gohn’s scheduling conflicts, the change will force some players to give up their current spring sports because they can only play one sport a season, junior Ellen Middleton said.

“It won’t be enforced when I’m at Whitman, but I would have to choose between tennis and lacrosse,” Middleton said.

Despite arguments from players and county officials, MPSSA’s decision that teams shouldn’t have a gap between their season and the state tournament is final, Gohn said.

“The state is getting the county on the fact that the tournament should follow the season,” Gohn said. “It’ll be difficult, but all fall, those courts will be empty.”