CIAC boys tennis tournaments shift to team format this spring

New Canaan's Ben Graham hits a forehand shot during a boys tennis match against Norwalk in New Canaan on Monday, May 10.

New Canaan's Ben Graham hits a forehand shot during a boys tennis match against Norwalk in New Canaan on Monday, May 10.

Dave Stewart / Hearst Connecticut Media

The CIAC’s postseason boys tennis class tournaments will feature a team format this season, a one-year change made to provide a “safer environment for players, coaches and spectators,” according to the committee’s website.

The four boys tennis tournaments (Class LL, L, M and S) typically use a jamboree-style format, resulting in singles and doubles champions as well as an overall team champion.

The decision to change to head-to-head team play was made in January, when COVID numbers were still relatively high and vaccines were only available to a small portion of the population.

“It wasn’t safe at the time to schedule big events the size of the class tournaments under the old format,” John Keogh, the boys tennis committee chair, said. “The (team) format requires less travel and would also eliminate the need for having a lot of people at one site.”

Keogh added that, at least this year, there were few if any sites which would have hosted the large number of players, coaches and spectators the tournaments typically draw.

The boys and girls class tournaments begin on Friday, May 28, with the higher seeds hosting every round through the semifinals on Wednesday, June 2. The sites for the finals on Thursday, June 3, have yet to be determined.

In addition, Invitational tournaments will replace the usual State Opens for boys and girls tennis.

Singles and doubles qualifiers will be based on regular-season records. In past years, individuals and doubles tandems qualified by reaching the semifinals of the class tournaments.

Each invitational tournament will feature the top 24 singles players and the top 12 doubles teams, which will be chosen from nominations provided by coaches.

According to the CIAC guidelines, the minimum qualifications are winning percentage of 60 or higher at No. 1 singles or doubles, and a winning percentage of 75 or higher at No. 2 singles or doubles. Players must have played in 50% of their team’s regular-season matches.

The Invitationals begin on Saturday, June 5, with the finals on Wednesday, June 9.

The move to a team format for the boys tennis class meets has been discussed in recent years, but has not resulted in a change. The plan now is to move back to the usual format next spring.

“It’s brought up every four years or so, then we discuss it, and we send it out for a vote of the Coaches Association and it always comes out in favor of the format we’ve been using,” Keogh said. “There’s advantages to both formats, but we feel that it’s always enabled us to crown a deserving team state champion.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports