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Players Facing Tough Choice

Tennis: USTA schedules tournament in Thousand Oaks for same weekend as Southern Section championships.

May 11, 1999|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Plenty of blame is being passed around these days, from the U.S. Tennis Assn., to the Southern California Tennis Assn., to the Southern Section office. But no one is accepting responsibility for a scheduling conflict that has the Southern Section boys' individual and team tennis championships knocking heads with the QuikSilver/Roxy Junior Open in Thousand Oaks, a new USTA regional tournament.

The scheduling snafu has forced the top high school players to choose between competing for their schools or playing to enhance their junior rankings, which are becoming increasingly more important for their futures.

Most highly ranked players are choosing to compete for their schools and aren't entering the USTA event, which begins Thursday, May 27, and ends Sunday, May 30. The section team semifinals are scheduled for the May 27 and the individuals--round of 16 through the finals--are May 28-29.

High school coaches are miffed that their best players are being forced to choose.

"My kids will play for me, but there's absolutely no communication between [the section and the SCTA]," Corona del Mar Coach Tim Mang said. "I think it's a lack of respect at the CIF for tennis. They don't seem to realize that the Southern California kids are much higher ranked [nationally] in tennis than in any other sport. But [the Southern Section] doesn't get the revenue out of tennis like basketball and football, so it doesn't matter to them."

Bill Clark, Southern Section assistant commissioner in charge of boys' tennis, said he was unaware of the conflict until a few weeks ago.

"I'm disappointed," Clark said. "It will be interesting to see what kids do. I've already expressed some concern to the SCTA. In reality, we've had these dates on the calendar for three years."

The USTA said it doesn't keep track of dates for high school tournaments. They say that's the job of the local tennis associations, which, in this case, is the SCTA. Annette Broersma, director of community programs for the SCTA and the Thousand Oaks tournament director, said the overlap was unavoidable.

"It's my personal belief that kids shouldn't miss school," Broersma said. "We had such a short window. I have very few three-day weekends in Southern California where there's good weather. So we picked Memorial Day weekend.

"At some point, things are going to overlap. Where do you make the call? You're always going to lose someone. You can't please everyone."

It appears there is some room for compromise on the May 27 date. Clark said the section can move the semifinals up a day if a player involved in the team semifinals is entered in the Thousand Oaks tournament. However, there isn't much that can be done about the other two dates.

"I totally respect the CIF," Broersma said. "I'm telling the kids, 'I'm sorry you have to choose. Choose CIF, I don't want to hear it.' "

And what about next year? Broersma said the same conflict could happen again.

"I'd hope to meet with CIF so we can avoid this," she said.

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