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Tennis format altered, softball pitchers to back up

A change in the format of the boys’ and girls’ tennis state tournaments, a new pitching distance in softball and two new member schools were highlights of the first meeting of the new school year by the IHSAA Executive Committee.
The committee unanimously approved a proposal made last school year by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association that goes into effect immediately and calls for eight teams to advance to the state finals instead of the four from previous years.
In the new format, four teams will continue to advance to four semi-state sites, but the winner of each of the two matches now will advance to the following weekend’s state finals. Those eight teams then will square off at North Central High School in Indianapolis in a Friday-Saturday format (Oct. 16 and 17 for boys; June 4 and 5 for girls).
Four quarterfinal matches scheduled for mid-afternoon on Friday will be followed by two semifinal matches on Saturday morning and the state championship match Saturday afternoon. The consolation match, which previously determined the third- and fourth-place teams, will be discontinued. Sectional and regional formats remain unchanged.
Sectional pairings will continue to be conducted by the 64 host sites on the Monday prior to the tournament, but matchups for the regional, semi-state and state finals will be drawn by the IHSAA on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 8 a.m.
In the individual tournament for singles and doubles players, sectional champions will now advance to one of four different regional sites in the state, with the winners moving on to the state finals on Oct. 23 and 24 at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. Previously, the regionals were played primarily in the Indianapolis area while the team state finals were being contested.
The same drawing by the IHSAA on Sept. 29 will determine the regional pairings in that tournament.
In another move, the committee approved an increase in the pitching distance for softball from 40 feet to 43 feet effective this school year.
The new distance was one of the rules revisions announced by the National Federation of State High School Associations in June. The new distance is mandatory for all states beginning in 2010-11, but member state associations were free to adopt the new rule a year early if desired.
In other action, the committee approved the membership applications of two new schools ‘ 21st Century Charter School of Gary and Indiana Math & Science Academy in Indianapolis.
The additional two schools, combined with the recent closings of Gary Wirt and Morton Memorial, leaves the IHSAA membership total at 411 schools.
Students at both schools will be able to compete in regular season events immediately, but, by IHSAA rule, they won’t be eligible to participate in state tournament competition for two years (2011-12).