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Update: Newburyport order rejected by court, officially ending girls tennis season | Sport

Update: Newburyport order rejected by court, officially ending girls tennis season |  Sport
Update: Newburyport order rejected by court, officially ending girls tennis season |  Sport


After two days with the outcome of the season still up in the air, the Newburyport girls tennis program's year officially ended Friday evening just after 5 p.m.

In Salem Superior Court, Newburyport High's injunction against the MIAA was dismissed, with Hon. Salim Tabit runs the business.

Newburyport High filed an injunction against the MIAA on Thursday following a controversial ending to the Clippers' Division 3 state semifinal against Pembroke on Wednesday. During the match, the deciding match (No. 3 singles) accidentally went to a first-to-ten tiebreak instead of a full third set being played after the match was tied at 1–1. MIAA rules state that during playoffs a full third set must be played to determine a winner, but the MIAA official on site accidentally allowed the two athletes to play a tiebreaker.

Pembroke won the tiebreaker 10-7 to win the match 3-2 and advance to the state championship game.

After the game, Newburyport immediately appealed. About 45 minutes later, the MIAA ruled that an error had been made, that a full third set should have been played, and that both teams had to return the next day (Thursday) to complete the match. But around 10 a.m. Thursday morning, the MIAA released a statement reversing the decision made the night before, declaring Pembroke the winner of the contest. The main reasoning for this is that since the match was over according to the referee on the spot and the players had shaken hands, the result was final, despite the wrong play of a tiebreak.

On Thursday afternoon, Newburyport filed an order to allow the entire third set to be played. The request was denied a day later and Pembroke advanced to Saturday's Division 3 State Championship game against Weston – which it won 3-2 to win the program's first-ever title.

The Newburyport girls were two-time Division 3 champions, completing another strong season with a 17-4 record.

Here is a letter that the Newburyport School District and Superintendent Sean Gallagher released Friday before the ruling in the case was announced:

NEWBURYPORT, MA (June 14, 2024) – Newburyport Public Schools is standing firmly behind the Newburyport High School girls varsity tennis team as they appeal a controversial ruling from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Division 3 State Semi-Final Championship- Wednesday's game against Pembroke High School.

With the team score tied at 2-2, the match between the final pair was tied after two sets. The referee allowed the players to continue under tiebreak rules when they should have followed the tournament format to play a third set. This was unbeknownst to the players and coaches until after the players started. The players completed the match under this format, without having played the last set of regular play. Newburyport realized that improper procedures had been followed and immediately appealed to the MIAA.

On Wednesday evening, the MIAA ruled that the tiebreaker set had been played in error and that the Newburyport and Pembroke players would complete their matches on Thursday afternoon.

Here is the official MIAA email sent by Richard L. Pearson, Associate Director MIAA & MSAA to both Newburyport and Pembroke administrators, communicating the MIAA ruling on Wednesday evening on how to proceed:

“Thank you to the athletic directors and coaches for resolving the misapplication of the MIAA Tennis Format and the USTA Friend of Court Rules. It was clear that the USTA official incorrectly instructed the players to play a tiebreaker in instead of the full set to decide the match Because it is not a judgment, but rather an incorrect game structure, it must be corrected and completed according to the rules of tennis.

“After speaking with the athletic directors and coaches at the venue this evening, the decision was made to complete the match on Thursday, June 13 under the MIAA Tennis Format and USTA Friend of Court rules.

“Thank you for your understanding and support for the application of proper competition rules for the MIAA Team Tennis Tournament.”

At approximately 10 a.m. Thursday morning, just hours before the game to determine the winning team, the NPS was notified by telephone that the MIAA had decided to reverse Wednesday evening's ruling, declaring Pembroke the winner and resuming the game. Thursday was canceled. MIAA overturned their decision as Pembroke appealed Wednesday night's decision. Unfortunately, Newburyport officials were not notified that an appeal had been filed and only heard from the MIAA with their new decision.

“The referee's decision violated MIAA rules by having the players compete in a top-of-ten tiebreaker set, rather than playing a third set, which was the procedure during the 2024 season and years prior” , said Newburyport Athletic Director Kyle Hodsdon. . “The MIAA ruling emailed Wednesday evening confirms this. Ultimately, we want to fully support our girls tennis team by exercising our right to appeal the reversal of the MIAA's decision in order to reach a fair final ruling to get over this semi-final.”

Two years ago, the team match in the state championship game between Newburyport and Austin Prep was tied 2-2. The final match to determine the champion, similar to last Wednesday, ended in a 1-1 draw in sets. The final match went to a third set and Newburyport ultimately won.

Superintendent Gallagher noted, “Our girls tennis players represented Newburyport High School with energy and determination throughout the season. The officials' actions undermine that effort and prevent a just conclusion to their outstanding season.”




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