Did we just get it?
By Jim Reffkin
With High School tennis season upon us, there is good news in Arizona 4A Interscholastic Tennis - Arizona finally got it. For the first time in 4A Tennis, there will be an Arizona 4A State Team Championship at the conclusion of the 2005 season. This year they will duplicate the successful 5A format that was initiated in the late 1980's.
Let me explain. For the longest time, since its inception back in the early 60's, Arizona High School Tennis had a very interesting way of deciding who won the team championship. At the end of the season, there would be an individual tournament that would determine the best singles players and the best doubles teams.
Now keep in mind that like college tennis, all dual meets are played with six singles players and then after the singles, the same six players probably would play in three doubles matches - one point per match, a total of nine points if all matches are won. A team would need to win at least five points to win the team match. All positions had an equal point value, no matter what position you played. This was truly a team effort during the season, but when the state championship came up; all sense of "team" value went out the window.
Roland Kotwica, long time boy's 4A tennis coach at University High, welcomes the new system even though he has won Arizona State Team championships on five different occasions. In fact, it was not unusual that he would win 4A state with only three players playing; but remember there are at least six on a team. To diminish its credibility even more, last year he won state with his best players coming in 2nd in singles and 2nd in doubles. In 1996 it was even worse, 3rd in singles and 2nd in doubles.
What other sport would offer such a contrived state team championship with only a fraction of the team competing? If you have ever competed on a team sport, it is very apparent that the value of team competition is the unselfish contribution an individual can make to the success of the "team.quot; Well this year 4A tennis will finally have a credible Arizona State Team Championship, and a lot of young people will gain from the experience.
And let me add, USTA also finally got it! Thanks to Marikate Murren, product manager out of the National Office in White Plains, a fairly new event called quot;USA Junior Team Tennisquot; is growing faster than any current USTA national program. Marikate is supported by a dynamic staff in an effort to demonstrate that junior tennis can be a team sport that individuals can not only enjoy, but experience the same benefits other major team sports offer as well.
So not only did USTA get it, but Tucson got it as well! The Reffkin Tennis Center had the opportunity to host the first national championship in 2003 and again this year - a true team championship in every sense of the word! This last November, not only was there an incredible and exciting 2004 championship, but some entertainment and celebrity presence as well.
Mike and Bob Bryan, commonly known as the quot;Bryan twinsquot; are the contracted professional players supporting this much needed USTA program. Not only is it their inspirational presence - number one doubles team in the world - but there conception of team spirit that is so invaluable to the efforts of Marikate?s staff and the overall excitement of this prestigious event.
And even more exciting, the Randolph Tennis Center will again be hosting the third annual USA National Team Tennis Championships. In other words USTA quot;gets itquot; but we also quot;got itquot; again in 2005.