Editorial: Foul play — Darien’s girls tennis’ lost chance at states was preventable

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For the second year in a row, Darien’s girls’ tennis team has made it almost all the way to finish, only to be disqualified from the state championship.

This could be an unusually disappointing coincidence if it wasn’t for the exact same reason as last year.

The reason for both disqualifications is the use of an ineligible player, based on participation in non-high school events.

Last year, the reason given was the player had played in more than the four events allowed by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or CIAC, rules.

This year, the school did its own investigation and reported the findings to the CIAC, which then decided the findings rendered the player ineligible — resulting in a forfeit.

It is unclear if the same student is involved in both incidents.

The tennis coach this year said whatever activity the student participated in was “a really unfortunate definition of an ‘outside’ team’” and it was certainly “not a competitive league team for a high school player.”

For this to happen two years in a row is unacceptable and unfair to the girls’ tennis team, which now must watch its fellow student athletes go on to triumph or a fair loss.

One would think after this happened the first time, intensive study would have been undertaken to learn the rules and adhere to them — on both the coaches’ and the players’ parts.

It also might behoove outside program staff to become familiar with this rule to advise participants.

For future reference, this is the CIAC rule:

“A student who is a member of a school team after the first scheduled tournament, meet or game in any season shall not practice or compete with an outside team, or participate as an individual in non-CIAC tournaments, meets, tryouts, skills assessment or games in the same branch of athletics.”

Someone dropped the ball here, and changes need to be made to the next season’s approach — whether by the CIAC, the Darien athletic department, the coaches or even the players and their families.

Before a player participates in any activity, ask if the CIAC considers it an “outside activity,” not after it’s already completed — by then, it is too late.

In the meantime, we’d like to congratulate Darien’s girls’ tennis team on a tremendously successful season.

We share your disappointment, and hope that it never happens again.