Boys’ tennis team size affected by sports policy

Team numbers kept low

Senior+Isaac+Swartz+swings+a+forehand+returning+a+shot+against+Bloomington+Jefferson+during+their+match+April+24.+2018.
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Boys’ tennis team size affected by sports policy

Senior Isaac Swartz swings a forehand returning a shot against Bloomington Jefferson during their match April 24. 2018.

Senior Isaac Swartz swings a forehand returning a shot against Bloomington Jefferson during their match April 24. 2018.

Grace Farley

Senior Isaac Swartz swings a forehand returning a shot against Bloomington Jefferson during their match April 24. 2018.

Grace Farley

Grace Farley

Senior Isaac Swartz swings a forehand returning a shot against Bloomington Jefferson during their match April 24. 2018.

As the boys’ tennis team suits up for the season, the size of the team is affecting the team’s chances in competition, according to senior captain Sam Birnberg.

Birnberg said Park has a sports policy forcing middle schoolers who try out for a high school sport be instantly cut from the team if they don’t make varsity.

“I definitely think (allowing middle school kids to play on JV) would benefit the team just because having bigger numbers would help strengthen the team,” Birnberg said. “Just give us more of a chance to play and be competitive with the rest of the conference.”

8th grader Collin Canaday who tried out for the team said he didn’t even know there was a rule barring middle school players from playing JV.

“I was not aware of that rule when I tried out. I don’t think I would have been able to play Varsity,” Canaday said. “I would have liked to play high school JV for sure, if I had the opportunity to do that I would have loved to do that.”

Head coach David Breitenbucher said allowing middle school players to join JV tennis would be great for the team.

“This year our numbers are such that we just need every guy we can to fill out our JV lineup, even just 1-2 extra guys would be awesome,” Breitenbucher said. “For this year it would have been nice to keep a couple of middle schoolers that could play JV.”

Birnberg said middle schoolers would still be able to develop their skills while playing on JV and that all players improve as the year goes on.

“We have a lot of guys who are at different skill levels and that’s great for being able to work at it throughout the year everyone gets better,” Birnberg said. “We wouldn’t have an issue with dealing with a player who has more of a JV skill level just because we have so many guys at different levels and everyone improves over the year.”

According to Breitenbucher in a typical school year this policy has not been an issue, but over the last few years, boys tennis numbers have dipped.

“In a typical year in all my coaching I don’t think it would matter that much,” Breitenbucher said. “For whatever reason, the last few years our guy’s tennis team numbers have been down so we’re looking for everybody we can.”

Senior captain Adam Johnson said he understands the policy helps preserve places on the team for veteran players, but ultimately believes the policy isn’t supporting the tennis team this year.

“I see the benefit with large numbers kids applying where you don’t want to take away that high school spot. I don’t see the merits in this policy with certain sports such as tennis,” Johnson said. “Allowing middle school kids to play on JV ultimately will foster the support of the team and building a stronger program in the High School. I’m not sure I see the merits of this policy.”

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