Next month the MHSAA will host a professionally facilitated “study circle” to begin to analyze and search for solutions to several issues that make the interscholastic tennis experience less than we would like it to be for students and their sponsoring schools.
A diverse group of coaches and others will discuss what new policies, procedures and penalties could help to reduce unethical practices sometimes found in “stacking” of lineups and in substituting for players who have been in the MHSAA Tournament lineup previously. The participants will also consider what might be done to improve spectator behavior and school oversight of the tennis program.
Obviously, the problems cited here are not found in every program and are the kind that would be better addressed by personal responsibility than by MHSAA mandates. But frustrations have grown to the point that these concerns deserve a focused effort to search for causes and solutions.
Whatever consensus is developed will be delivered to the MHSAA Tennis Committee meeting in January where proposals are finalized for the MHSAA Representative Council. It is possible that some proposals – perhaps dealing with ethical norms and codes of conduct – would be better directed to the high school tennis coaches association for consideration.
Tennis is a fantastic high school sport. And one of its finest features is that the participants themselves make the calls – dozens of times each match – when the ball is close to being on or over a boundary line. Almost always, these student-athletes make the correct decisions. We’re hoping to encourage everyone else involved to behave just as well.