For most sports, boys and girls teams simultaneously practice and compete within one season. However, because court-space is limited in town, the high school boys and girls tennis teams are separate from one another, playing during completely different times of the year. The girl’s tennis season is during the fall, while boys tennis teams play during the spring. This seasonal gap drive the teams to have little contact with each other, contrasting with sports like soccer and lacrosse. In other sports, the boys and girls share the fields, so each team schedule depends on the other, and games and practices are planned with the other in mind. Unfortunately, both tennis teams use the courts at Ridgewood, Sommerville, and Bel Air, preventing a similar, multi-gender experience for tennis.
Despite having multiple locations for the team to practice during the tennis season, there is only about 13-14 courts available within Ridgewood. With Freshman, Junior Varsity, and Varsity competing at the same time, the courts quickly fill up, and that is only for one team. If Ridgewood were to include the girls into the boys season or vice versa, there would logistically be no room for all the athletes. Regarding arguments against the season’s gender separation, it simply comes down to the fact that there will not be enough room for both teams. With six high school teams in total between boys and girls and a limited amount of court space, the teams would not be able to efficiently run their season. If they were combined, the athletes would not have a meaningful, competitive experience.
Each team has its own protocol for tryouts, practices, and games that are unique to their own season. Athletes have wondered if the season’s timing gives one team an advantage over another, and if that contributes to the overall success of the team. One factor that may put the girls team at a disadvantage is the fact that tryouts begin in the middle of August, thus shortening the girls summer vacation. In addition, tennis is notorious for having lengthy tryout periods solely because matches take up more time and only a limited number of girls can compete in each match. This causes the girls’ season to feel significantly longer. The boys tryouts begin in late February to early March which gives them their entire summer vacation and allows them to possibly train for longer. Despite this, the weather during their tryouts is much more unpredictable than the weather during the girls tryouts. Rain, snow, wind, and a myriad of other factors can hinder the boys from having a productive season while the girls have a more consistent weather profile.
Each team is completely different from the other and the relationship between the two teams is minimal, a contrast with practically all the other sports. Having two separate seasons makes life easier for both the players and the coaches, allowing teams to have a proper season that fulfills each and every athlete.
Graphic: Nicole Kye