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HIGH SCHOOLS

Net changes ahead: MIAA committees discuss status of individual tennis, COVID modifications for girls’ volleyball

The Brookline boys' tennis team celebrates its state championship in 2019. While team state finals are a possibility for spring 2021, it is unlikely that there will be individual tournaments as a result of the reduced schedule during the pandemic.
The Brookline boys' tennis team celebrates its state championship in 2019. While team state finals are a possibility for spring 2021, it is unlikely that there will be individual tournaments as a result of the reduced schedule during the pandemic.John Cetrino for The Boston Globe

The MIAA is determined to provide a spring tournament experience/atmosphere in 2021, in large part on behalf of those athletes, coaches, and teams that were shut out during the early stages of the pandemic last spring.

But on the tennis court, with the projected April 26 start of the spring season, an individual tournament is highly unlikely. The priority will be team tournaments, with sectional play, if approved, starting June 13, and the state finals scheduled for July 1.

The first matches of the season cannot be played until May 6, “and the entry deadline for the individual tournament [would be] eight days later,” said Carolyn Bohmiller, liaison to the association’s Tennis Committee during a virtual meeting Tuesday morning. “The focus will be on team play.”

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There will be more clarity Wednesday morning, when the Tournament Management Committee will discuss, and vote on possible spring tournament for all sports.

“It’s important for kids to get out and play, in a team setting, if we go to the individual [tournament], that takes away from that experience,” said Brian Cogswell, assistant principal at Lenox.

The committee also decided to table the idea of introducing a Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) system until 2022; it was slated to be utilized on a pilot this year.

“Adding another layer to the competition does not make a whole lot of sense at this point,” said Dave Bouchard, the AD at Quaboag Regional.

The UTR, when implemented, will be an asset in objectively seeding players, and teams, for the tournament.

Recommendations for COVID-related modifications for the spring season will presented to the Sports Medicine Committee on March 8. Those include teams using their own balls, balls numbered differently for use on adjacent courts, home teams providing hand sanitizers for both teams, and racquet taps replacing handshakes.

Volleyball modifications reviewed

In advance of competition for the upcoming Fall II season, the MIAA’s Volleyball Committee metvirtually Tuesday morning to review alterations to modifications that were put in place for the girls’ season held last fall.

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The “COVID Line,” which prohibited players from playing the ball inside 3 feet in front of the net to facilitate distancing, has been eliminated. Committee members believed the line was no longer necessary and disrupted normal game play.

All substitutes must now use hand sanitizer before checking into the game, but game balls will be cleaned at the end of every set — instead of every point — as was the case in Fall I.

Each game site will now have a dedicated ‘COVID administrator’ to enforce COVID-19 regulations so that responsibility does not fall on coaches or officials.

Barnstable coach Tom Turco said that the state coaches associations for both girls’ and boys’ volleyball are exploring a merger.

In Fall II, 14 leagues/conferences in Eastern Mass. will be in play: Bay State, Boston City, Cape & Islands, Cape Ann, Commonwealth Athletic, Dual County, Greater Boston, Hockomock, Mayflower Athletic, Middlesex, Northeastern, South Coast, South Shore League, and Tri-Valley. The Fall I season was limited to the Catholic Central League, Patriot League, Merrimack Valley Conference, and Southeast Conference.

Globe correspondent Brandon Chase contributed to this report.


Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com.