High School Tennis Should Mirror College
Why doesn't HS Tennis just copy college tennis? This is the biggest killer of American tennis! Our high school teams are too big, and our tennis athletes don't get any credibility at school because the lower level varsity players aren't varsity-level athletes. If there were 6 players on varsity, all playing doubles and singles, the competition would be fearce. Instead, the lowest varsity spots are taken by new tennis players who haven't put in the work and probably got cut from another sport and found it easy to letter in tennis.
If we want our better athletes to pick up tennis, there better be some respect from non-tennis athletes to the tennis athletes, or they will choose a different sport like they are doing now. When a player makes varsity golf everyone knows that that kid is good at golf. Not so with tennis! With six spots all kids will be pressured into taking it seriously all year like all of the other sports. The one guy will want to stay on top. The two and three will be chasing the one spot. The four-six spots will want to make varsity and the top jv will be vying for varsity, etc.
Pressurization is the key to motivation. Right now the singles kids(3) in California are motivated, but the doubles players are less motivated(6). Also, kids will develop better skills playing singles and doubles and they would have better match-ups playing matches in their own slots.
Participation is a weak argument for the current structure. There could be as many JV and Frosh/Soph teams as needed to satisfy all players that try out. This will make the JV and Frosh/Soph schedules much more competitive and interesting. Right now JV is like a death sentence to most tennis careers. Put the kid in a format with only a few good matches and he will lose respect for the sport and not gain valuable experience to move up the food chain.
A six man team could use one or two courts for practice, so lack of courts a problem either. There are courts everywhere. Night practice at local facilities is ok as well.
Our tennis athletes need to be respected high school athletes among their peers at school to feel like they are a vital part of the athletic high school landscape. Only when this happens will more top athletes pick up this difficult but awesome sport!
Southern California Tennis Academy