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Tim Martinez: Time to make boys tennis an entirely fall sport

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: October 17, 2023, 9:25pm
2 Photos
Tommy James of Camas hits a shot in a singles match against Aiden Bucerzan of Skyview at Camas High School on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023.
Tommy James of Camas hits a shot in a singles match against Aiden Bucerzan of Skyview at Camas High School on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

In the next two weeks, the high school boys golf and tennis seasons in Southwest Washington will end.

A few fortunate players will qualify for the bi-district or state tournament. But those events won’t be held until seven months in the future.

Why is that?

For the record, the WIAA classifies boys golf and boys tennis as spring sports with state championships held at the end of May.

However, individual districts are given the option of holding the regular seasons and district tournaments for those sports in the fall to alleviate the space crunch on golf courses and tennis courts.

And for the elite athletes in those sports — those ones who will be competing for state champions — the seven-month hiatus isn’t really a hiatus at all, as most play their sports year-round.

But it still begs the question: Why not just make boys golf and boys tennis a fully fall sport, with state championships in the fall?

Well, let’s start with golf.

The first issue is District 4, which encompasses Clark County and Southwest Washington, is an outlier in the state when it comes to the fall golf season.

Most of the rest of the state plays boys and girls golf in the spring. Apparently in other parts of the state, they value golf courses over houses.

Not here in Clark County, where most high school golf teams have to cram onto Tri-Mountain, Fairway Village or Camas Meadows.

The other issue is playing a state championship in golf in late October could be less than ideal from a weather standpoint, even if it were played on the east side of the state.

So playing the state championship for golf in the spring makes sense.

But tennis is a different animal.

Most of the state plays the boys tennis regular season in the fall — District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5 and District 6.

The outlier in this case is District 8, which encompasses Spokane and the Tri-Cities.

But what about playing state tennis championships in dodgy weather of late October or early November? Three words — indoor tennis facilities.

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All of the spring tennis championships are held at indoor tennis facilities. Yes, outdoor courts are utilized when weather allows, but the schedule can be adjusted to keep play on indoor courts, if needed.

If that’s the case, why not just move the boys tennis season to the fall? It would certainly alleviate some of the crush of state championships at the end of the school year.

In the fall, state championships are spread out from late October with slowpitch softball to football in early December.

In the winter, it starts in early February with girls bowling and ends in early March with basketball.

But in the spring, every sport culminates in the final full week of May.

So why not take one less away and pull boys tennis away from the shadow of every other spring sport?

Again, the best tennis players in the state don’t put their rackets into storage every October, then break them out of moth balls in May. They’re playing year-round.

But that doesn’t mean the potential for conflict doesn’t exist?

Last year, two Columbia River soccer players — Cole Benner and Alex Harris — advanced to the finals in state soccer and also qualified in state tennis the previous fall.

For a while, it looked like Benner and Harris would need to withdraw from the state tennis tournament.

However, the schedule and geography worked in their favor. They played tennis in the morning and early afternoon in Seattle, then soccer in the evening in Renton on the final two days of the high school year.

They were lucky. Others may not be so lucky.

So the question remains. If they can play the boys tennis state tournament in the fall, why don’t they?

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at tim.martinez@columbian.com, 360-735-4538 or follow @360TMart on Instagram or X (Twitter).