Tennis is Back! But has the game changed for good?
After being off the court for 1½ months this Spring, tennis came back on May 1st.
It was an interesting transition time. I went from not hitting a single ball for well over a month, to hitting for 8 hours a day, every day. My body reminded me of this daily as I woke up. People were so excited to be back, they couldn’t get enough tennis. They immediately wanted lessons every day. I was busy, but so happy to be back playing again.
Getting back to the game was the easy part. The challenge was how to create an environment for everyone to play safely.
At Shaughnessy, where I am the Assistant Tennis Professional, we started with only singles play, as it was easier to maintain physical distancing. We ensured every player had their own marked balls to play with, as sharing tennis balls was prohibited. There were hand sanitizers on every court, no water stations and everyone had to sign a declaration before they could play. We also made sure that people entered and left through different doors or gates and while playing, had to use separate benches. There were no spectators allowed and when the players finished, they had to leave the courts immediately. Looking back over the past couple months, the new rules were easily worked into the game and everyone stepped up to do their part.
Of course all of these protocols are much easier to maintain at the private clubs as they are operated and supervised on a daily basis.
The public courts are a bit more of a challenge.
Mostly because there isn’t anyone to monitor or supervise the necessary protocols. It is on the individual player. I now recommend to every player to keep a mask, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and personal towels in your bag, along with the regular stuff like water bottles and extra grips. As well as your own can of balls. These should be marked with your initials (or distinct mark) so that no one else will pick them up. When playing games, you must serve with your own tennis balls. All of this is even more challenging when playing doubles. Then each player should have their own can of balls. That means 4 cans per court.
As these times have created a new set of rules for your own game, professional tennis is no different.
All the professional tournaments since March have been cancelled. There have been a couple of exceptions which resulted in a disaster with several players coming down with COVID. Since then everything was put on hold. The U.S. Open in September will be the first to return, as long as things don’t go sideways. Like with all the pro sports trying to start back up, there will be no spectators, no qualifying rounds, and the doubles draws being cut in half. We are all taking baby steps right now to ensure safety and pro tennis is no exception.
As we look forward to the reopening of all the facilities both public and private, let’s all use our common sense out there. It is always better to lean towards caution and safety because we all want to go forward and put all of this behind us.
Let’s Play Safe and Stay Safe!