MSHSAA members vote on switching seasons for tennis

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Boys high school tennis players in Missouri could be turning in their rain gear for long sleeves in the near future.

A proposal to swap the boys and girls tennis seasons is one of 22 proposals on the annual Missouri State High School Activities Association ballot that was mailed out to members on April 4.

The proposal would move girls tennis to the spring and boys tennis to the fall starting the 2006-07 school year. According to MSHSAA, the proposal is designed to help bring more balance to the athletic seasons. Currently in Missouri, the fall girls sports include golf -- no area teams have girls golf -- tennis, softball and volleyball, while boys sports include soccer and football. Cross country is available for both genders, and St. Louis County schools also have girls field hockey.

"I think there's a little lack of balance," MSHSAA communication director Rick Kindhart said.

Central boys tennis coach Bud Craven said moving tennis to the fall could cost him several players.

"I'm opposed to it," he said. "It would change the season and I'd probably lose some swimmers, also some soccer players."

If the proposal passes -- it needs a majority vote -- it would mark the second straight year MSHSAA members have voted to swap sporting seasons. Last year, schools with aquatics voted to move boys swimming from the winter to the fall and girls swimming from the spring to the winter, with water polo -- another sport primarily in the St. Louis area -- moving to the spring.

Also on the ballot this year is a proposal to create a two-year only experiment which would create a new category of Affiliate Registered Schools, institutions that are not MSHSAA member schools but would be able to participate against MSHSAA schools in the regular season under specific conditions.

"It's a fairly popular concept, and we see a lot of upside to it," Kindhart said.

This proposal, which needs a two-thirds approval to pass, would allow schools like Eagle Ridge Christian and New Salem Baptist to participate against the MSHSAA schools. States such as Kansas and Oklahoma currently have affiliate programs.

"I think it's a win-win situation for everybody," Eagle Ridge athletic director Tony Hammack said. "I'd like to see it pass."

With a limited number of non-MSHSAA schools in Southeast Missouri, Eagle Ridge of Cape Girardeau and New Salem of Marble Hill have difficulty finding opponents in the region. If the proposal passed, Eagle Ridge and New Salem could play MSHSAA schools and cut down on traveling.

"The provisional membership will give us the best of both worlds," Hammack said.

Another proposal for consideration is the cooperative sponsorship idea, which would allow two schools in classes 1, 2 or 3 to jointly sponsor a team. A cooperative sponsorship proposal for elementary and junior highs passed in 2003. Proposals to pass cooperative sponsorship for high schools have failed by close margins in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

"This would get particularly small schools to cooperate with schools that already have a program," Kindhart said.

The cooperative sponsorship needs a majority vote to pass.

All three of these topics were included in the annual questionnaire sent out earlier this year by MSHSAA, which provides an informal vote. The tennis proposal received 69 "no" votes and 64 "yes" votes, the Affiliate Registered School proposal received 254 "yes" votes and 135 "no" votes, and the cooperation sponsorship proposal received 201 "no" votes and 134 "yes" votes.

Voting for this year's ballot will conclude April 30 with results to be announced in early May. To see a complete list of the proposals go to

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