Anchorage high school tennis players will get a conference championship tournament after all — but those who advance to the state championships will go straight from one tournament to the other.
The Cook Inlet Conference tournament, canceled last week after quarantines affected four of the eight teams, will be held Thursday and Friday at the Alaska Club East.
The finalists in each division — boys singles, girls singles, boys doubles, girls doubles, mixed double — will qualify for the one-day state championships Saturday at the Alaska Club East.
It’s possible some kids will play multiple matches on three straight days, but CIC coaches — who approved the new schedule — believe that’s better than not playing at all.
“I’m just glad that all the kids are going to get to play,” said Bartlett High coach Allen Clendaniel. “... It will be a wild ride and the kids will be playing without fans like at the US Open and French Open. But they will get to finish out the season with some normalcy.”
Some of the quarantined players won’t be released from quarantine until Friday, meaning Friday’s schedule will be jam-packed with matches. In order to make the tournament work, matches will use the Fast Four scoring system, which Clendaniel said is a new system created by Tennis Australia and the British Division of the Lawn Tennis Association.
A match is still three sets, but sets will be played to four games instead of six. The system uses no-advantage scoring, meaning the player or team that wins deuce will win the game — that is, instead of needing to win a game by two points, one point will suffice.
The speed-up rules “will allow the players to safely play the extra matches in one day that are required by the quarantine,” Clendaniel said.
The CIC tournament, originally scheduled for last Friday and Saturday, hit a roadblock midway through last week when some players from South and Service were quarantined for exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
At first the conference decided to run the tournament without the quarantined players while planning a playoff day this week for quarantined players who had earned a No. 1 or No. 2 seed by virtue of their regular-season play. That playoff day, set for this Friday, would have pitted last weekend’s second-place finishers against any No. 1 or No. 2 seeds from South or Service.
Then came word that players from Dimond and Bartlett were also quarantined. With half of the CIC’s teams missing players, the tournament was canceled.
That sparked a number of emails from players imploring the district to reconsider. Coaches and administrators from all of the CIC schools agree to resurrect the tournament and hold it Thursday and Friday.
The top two finishers in each division will advance to Saturday’s state tournament.
Absent from the tournament will be any players from Juneau. Billy Strickland, the head of the Alaska School Activities Association, said the Juneau school district decided not to send players to Anchorage, where COVID-19 cases have spiked in recent days.
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