Lely girls win district title off the court: ad Play at home in regional match today

Lely's Karen Greenidge hits a backhander during the No. 2 girls doubles match at the Class 2A-District 12 tennis tournament on April 3, 2012 at Estero High School. She and teammates advanced to the region semifinals at Lely at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Photo by KEVIN JOHNSON

Lely's Karen Greenidge hits a backhander during the No. 2 girls doubles match at the Class 2A-District 12 tennis tournament on April 3, 2012 at Estero High School. She and teammates advanced to the region semifinals at Lely at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Lely senior Alex Barrett, left, and freshman Casey Mendel eye the ball during the No. 1 girls doubles match at the Class 2A-District 12 tennis tournament on April 3, 2012 at Estero High School. Barrett and Mendel join the Lely team in hosting Cape Coral-Mariner in the regional tennis tournament.  Kevin Johnson/Staff

Photo by KEVIN JOHNSON

Lely senior Alex Barrett, left, and freshman Casey Mendel eye the ball during the No. 1 girls doubles match at the Class 2A-District 12 tennis tournament on April 3, 2012 at Estero High School. Barrett and Mendel join the Lely team in hosting Cape Coral-Mariner in the regional tennis tournament. Kevin Johnson/Staff

Lely girls win district title off the court

Play at home in regional match Tuesday

The Lely girls tennis team is the defending Class 2A-12 District champion, hosting District 11 runner-up Cape Coral-Mariner Tuesday in the regional semifinals.

However, Lely didn’t earn it on the court.

Bishop Verot won the 2A-12 girls title, despite playing with just four players on April 3. The Vikings won titles at the top four singles divisions and both doubles.

However, an FHSAA rule states that a school must have five players to be eligible for the team championship.

In the FHSAA handbook under tennis rules, the section “Player Limit” states, “A team consists of five competing players. … Schools with less than five-member teams shall not be eligible for the team title.

Harris emailed FHSAA senior director of athletics Gary Pigott, who verified the ruling that Bishop Verot must vacate its district title.

Barry Harris, coach at the 2A-12 tournament host Estero, discovered the rule and verified the decision with the FHSAA on Thursday. He notified Lely, Bishop Verot and Gateway Charter, which now is the district runner-up.

Gateway Charter will travel to District 11 champ Lemon Bay today. Both matches begin at 3 p.m.

The district championship is Lely’s third straight. Lely coach Kevin Smith said he’s happy his team gets a home regional match, but also feels bad for Bishop Verot.

“It’s really sad,” Smith said. “I wish we would have known (the rule) ahead of time so the tournament could have been played by the letter.”

Bishop Verot’s No. 1 singles player Linda Kornienko will be allowed to advance to the individual portion of the state tournament because she won the top singles draw at district. The Vikings’ No. 1 doubles team of Kornienko and Nia Eddie also won at district and will move on to state.

In the FHSAA handbook under tennis rules, the section “Player Limit” states, “A team consists of five competing players. … Schools with less than five-member teams shall not be eligible for the team title.

Harris emailed FHSAA senior director of athletics Gary Pigott, who verified the ruling that Bishop Verot must vacate its district title.

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