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With 2013 boys issue solved, state prep tennis may undergo larger review

Area committee meets with WIAA

Sept. 19, 2012

The problem of the egregious, not-so-transparent gerrymandering of almost all the best boys tennis teams into one sectional this coming spring by the WIAA has been solved.

Sort of.

But the short-term remedy was only part of what Nicolet District Administrator Dr. Rick Monroe and Wisconsin State Tennis Coaches Association head Linda Lied of Brookfield East wanted to talk to WIAA officials about.

The pair were part of a contingent who went to a WIAA Board of Control meeting on Sept. 7 in Stevens Point to seek a remedy for the fact that elite tennis programs Brookfield East, Brookfield Central, Marquette, Homestead, Nicolet and Whitefish Bay were all put in one sectional for the coming spring boys season.

For many years, the group had been spread across three state qualifying sectionals, but earlier this summer, the WIAA presented the 2013 spring tennis assignments and created a huge furor in the area net community when it placed all six of these high-powered programs in the same sectional.

(See the July 10 column addressing this issue in the North Shore NOW or at GlendaleNOW.com).

Representatives of the affected schools requested a meeting with the WIAA and were granted one, being put on the Sept. 7 Board of Control agenda.

Monroe said the Board listened attentively and asked some good questions. In the end and as of Monday, the six affected teams will now be split into two sectionals.

Issues still remain, as Homestead and both Brookfields were put in the same sub-sectional in their sectional bracket and Marquette, which has won the last six state D1 titles, is in the same sub-sectional of its bracket with Bay and Nicolet.

Not ideal, but better than the cement block and the rope around the neck the six were asked to swim with in the original WIAA reconfiguration.

However, as noted, the committee that went before the Board of Control wanted more. They presented the group with a letter asking for a wholesale look at state prep tennis, its policies and its philosophies.

They went in asking for something of a house-cleaning.

It includes the following topics:

*Policies for selection for team and individual state.

*Sub-sectional and sectional assignments statewide.

*Development of the draw for teams which qualify for state.

*Decision-making at Nielsen (the state tournament site in Madison) concerning matches without coaches or player's input and consideration.

*Communication and vetting procedures used in decision-making.

*New policies aimed at emphasizing and encouraging the expansion of both boys and girls high school tennis throughout the state.

*Changes and improvements in the WIAA constitution, generally not upgraded since 1978, despite the many changes in high school sports that have occurred since then in both boys and girls sports.

*And most importantly, whether current WIAA policies will result in a growing number of high school players choosing not to play high school tennis in favor of USTA events.

Under their proposal, two separate committees would be created to look at these issues and then would report back with recommendations.

"What we are proposing," said Monroe "is for them (the WIAA) to examine their own policies, some of which go back to 1978, concerning the whole tennis configuration. We need to adjust some things, because viewpoints change and what the students have to choose from has changed, too.

"Because 20 to 30 years ago, when some of us were involved in sports, who heard of AAU basketball or club volleyball?

"It's definitely a 'We are the WIAA' type of situation where we (in the membership) hope to have some recommendations for the WIAA. If they say 'yes' to this idea, then we can help each other.

"We have no idea how this will turn out, but we want (tennis) people from throughout the state involved. …What we're asking for is a real 360-degree self-examination. An evaluation. We're not looking at changing anything yet, but we want to look at things and see if they can't be done better."

It's a plan for the long-term future.

Hopefully, it will help avoid short-term issues that were created with the first reconfiguration of the 2013 state boys tennis draw.

"One of the questions that can hopefully be answered is," said Monroe, "is how do you get regional representation at state tournaments (a major WIAA concern) and still get the best teams to state?

"I'm not sure, but I think it can be done."

And whether any long-term changes come out of what was presented to the Board of Control in the letter remains to be seen. Monroe said some feedback will be made available to the group at the next Board meeting in October.

"Maybe it won't result in much radical change at all," Monroe said. "We don't know how open-minded they (the Board) are to change, but we just want to turn on a light and see what happens."

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