New for­mat could be dou­bly good, but of­fers some few op­por­tu­ni­ties

Record Observer - - Sports - By WIL­LIAM HAUFE bhaufe@star­dem.com

Bay­side Con­fer­ence tennis matches prior to this sea­son con­sisted of five sin­gles and two dou­bles matches — a to­tal of nine play­ers on the boys’ side, and nine for the girls.

Once the reg­u­lar sea­son and con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships were com­pleted, teams pieced to­gether their eight­player dis­trict tour­na­ment squads. Choos­ing largely from their sin­gles lad­ders, two sin­gles play­ers were se­lected — one boy, one girl — and three dou­bles teams — a boys’, girls’ and mixed team — most of which had lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing to­gether com­pet­i­tively dur­ing the sea­son.

That has changed though this spring, when Dis­trict VIII — which in­cludes all the Bay­side schools — de­cided to go with a three-dou­bles, fours­in­gles for­mat, where sin­gles play­ers can also play dou­bles.

“There’s ac­tu­ally sev­eral rea­sons for the new for­mat,” North Caro­line boys’ head coach and Dis­trict VIII chair­man Den­nis White said. “Some of our smaller schools that were start­ing to have is­sues with for­feits, and just not be­ing able to field a full lineup, were very much in­ter­ested in it.

“An­other big rea­son was the fact that we typ­i­cally send four boys and four girls from each school to dis­tricts,” White con­tin­ued. “Since you send your top four, they were play­ers who had played sin­gles all year long, and when you sent them to dis­tricts, three out of the four of them played dou­bles. So you were send­ing peo­ple who had no ex­pe­ri­ence in dou­bles.”

Though the Bay­side Con­fer­ence has won 15 state dou­bles ti­tles since the Mary­land Pub­lic Sec­ondary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion be­gan the tour­na­ment play in 1975 — four boys, five girls, six mixed — to eight sin­gles cham­pi­onships — six boys, two girls — its been 14 years since Bay­side play­ers last won at states, when Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester’s Bren­dan Kin­caid and Yusuf Shar­iff won the boys’ dou­bles ti­tle.

There have been a few near misses. Eas­ton’s Katie Claggett and Nora Ja­cob­son ad­vanced to the state fi­nal in girls’ dou­bles in 2013, and Cam­bridge-SD’s Tyler North and Emily McWilliams reached the mixed dou­bles fi­nal in 2011. Still, over the past two sea­sons the Bay­side has gone a col­lec­tive 3-12 in dou­bles play at states.

“I re­ally think I’m go­ing to need to get to dis­tricts be­fore I can re­ally give a strong opin­ion,” said White of the new for­mat. “Me per­son­ally, I hated send­ing kids who had played sin­gles all year and then send­ing them to dis­tricts to play dou­bles. It would be like tak­ing the soft­ball team and say­ing, ‘OK, now we’re go­ing to play baseball.’ I just felt like it wasn’t fair for me to do that to my team.

“When I looked at the dis­tricts and I looked at the dou­bles matches I didn’t feel like we were giv­ing our kids the best chance to com­pete be­cause we threw them into some­thing new once we got to dis­tricts,” White con­tin­ued. “So that’s what I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to, to see if that has any im­pact.”

Kent Is­land girls’ head coach Rick Tyng gave the new for­mat mixed re­views, but like White noted the big­gest pos­i­tive is giv­ing play­ers a chance to play dou­bles dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“I do like the fact that peo­ple like Kylie (Yesker) and Abby (Car­pen­ter) who would never nor­mally get a chance to play any dou­bles will get some ex­po­sure to it dur­ing

PHOTO BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

Two-time de­fend­ing Dis­trict VIII girls’ sin­gles cham­pion Ca­t­rina Coyner looks to lead Kent Is­land to a sec­ond straight Bay­side Con­fer­ence ti­tle this spring.

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