Changes to State Tennis Schedule Will Accommodate IB Testing

Flathead High School student-athletes had been unable to compete in state tournament due to testing conflicts

By Andy Viano
Flathead High School tennis players, from left, senior Sierra Dilworth, sophomore Marcella Mercer, senior Olivia Mohatt and senior Tess Huckeba pose for a portrait on the Flathead Valley Community College tennis courts in Kalispell on May 12, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Class AA activities directors voted in June to extend the 2020 tennis season by one additional week, a move made in part to allow Flathead High School students enrolled in International Baccalaureate (IB) programs the opportunity to compete in the state tournament.

The schedule change was proposed by Flathead Activities Director Bryce Wilson and came just a month after the Bravettes doubles team of Sierra Dilworth and Marcella Mercer qualified for the 2019 Class AA state tournament but defaulted their two matches. Dilworth, then a senior, could not travel to Great Falls because of a conflict with mandatory IB tests that would allow her to earn college credit.

Flathead is one of the only schools in the state that offers students rigorous IB classes in a number of subjects. While not identical, IB programs are similar to the more common Advanced Placement (AP) classes made available at many schools, including Glacier High School.

The conflict with the tennis season first arose years ago because the organization that sponsors IB around the world mandates all tests be taken on specific dates that span two weeks in May. In prior years, including 2019, IB testing has fallen on the same weeks as the Class AA divisional and state tournaments, interfering with some Flathead students’ schedules or preventing them from participating entirely.

The newly approved schedule means the divisional and state tournaments are both a week later this year, with the Class AA state tournament scheduled for May 21-22 in Bozeman. Flathead students in IB programs will still have conflicts during the divisional tournament, leading Wilson to call the move “a step.”

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