A major change is coming to YAIAA tennis this season, with a format change that puts the league in line with District 3 and the PIAA.
The tennis scoring system in the YAIAA has long been a seven-point system: five singles points and two doubles points. However, that will change this season when the league moves to a five-point system: three singles points and two doubles points.
The new format this season will present a new wrinkle for teams accustomed to the larger format used for years. The change affects the way coaches will plan for matches this season. In the past, singles players could also compete in doubles. But in the new format, there will be no repeat players, and singles players will be limited to playing in singles matches only.
“It’s going to change a lot because you’re going to have the best of your players playing that one doubles and two doubles,” Susquehannock coach Marianne Michels said. “It’s going to be interesting because you always had the ones and twos (singles players) playing doubles and now they’re not going to be. They’re going to be playing strictly singles.”
YAIAA coaches at Friday's fall sports media day had varying opinions on the new format.
Coaches in favor said it will shorten match times, which start at 3:30 and can run as late as 8 p.m. The change also aligns the YAIAA with the postseason format that teams see once they reach the district and state tournaments.
“It lines us up district-wise to represent district wise in the team better,” York Suburban coach Rebecca Toman said. “To me as a varsity sport we want to represent the best we can postseason. District and state play team wise is the 3-2 format, so I like that.”
Dale Ann Heird, the head coach at Dover, said she believes her team will benefit from the new system.
“I think that will favor us a little bit if you have a little bit more depth,” she said. “Instead of two dominant, dominant players and now they can only generate one point. I think that’s going to help us.”
It could also help draw more athletes to the program and bring a new dimension their doubles game, Heird said.
However, Delone Catholic’s head coach, Denise Dunn isn’t as enthused about the new format. The Squirettes are coming off an undefeated season play and YAIAA Division II title.
Delone will now tailor its practices to primarily focus on singles play for singles players and doubles play for doubles players. In the past, Dunn had worked on both facets of the game with all of her players.
Dunn said the change limits the scope of the players’ ability if they’re only allowed to play singles or doubles.
“The girls are specializing, and to me I think it impacts on them not being as well-rounded a tennis player,” Dunn said. “I think playing when you play both doubles helps your singles and the singles helps your doubles. There’s a little bit of a crossover from playing both. I don’t think it’s healthy for the sport.”
The Delone coach also was concerned on the impact it will have on larger teams, which now may be limited in the playing time they’ll have to give out to other players.
At Suburban, however, the new format is driving Maddie Lenker to work harder so that she can be on the court during dual meets.
“I have to work harder to get to the singles position that I want to play, so that’s better for the team,” Lenker said.
The league still has to decide how the league tournament will work. There will be a meeting next week when coaches will find out how the tournament will be run, according to Toman.