Wouldn't you love to smack this virus with a swinging volley and send it into oblivion?
It is SO frustrating not to be on court getting exercise in about the healthiest way imaginable. Advocates of our sport are doing a good job raising their voices reminding elected officials and health experts that tennis is a non-contact sport where opponents are usually more than 50 feet away. Somehow the golf courses were opened last week. I'd like to point out that tennis players do not hang around a tee taking turns to hit a ball (a ball that is standing still, I might add).
And the USTA has published guidelines for how to make the game even safer in this era of social distancing. The whole USTA document is here. Here are excerpts:
PREPARING TO PLAY
- The USTA Medical Advisory Group highly recommends competitive players ease their way back into play prior to competition. Given the layoff from competing, players will be more susceptible to under-training, over-use and other injuries. The USTA strongly recommends at least three weeks of on court and off court conditioning before competition begins.
- Arrange to play only with family members or others who live in your household or with individuals who are considered to be low risk.
- Do not play if any of you:
- Are exhibiting any symptoms of the coronavirus: mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, or other symptoms identified by the CDC.
- Have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Are a vulnerable individual and your state and region is in Phase One or Phase Two. A vulnerable individual is an elderly individual and/or an individual with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy. (For states and regions in Phase Three, a vulnerable individual can resume public interactions, including playing tennis, but should practice physical distancing.)
- Protect against infections:
- Wash your hands with a disinfectant soap and water (for 20 seconds or longer), or use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, before going to the court.
- Clean and wipe down your equipment, including racquets and water bottles. Do not share racquets or any other equipment such as wristbands, grips, hats and towels.
- Bring a full water bottle to avoid touching a tap or water fountain handle.
- Use new balls and a new grip, if possible.
- Consider taking extra precautions such as wearing gloves.
- If you need to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or upper sleeve.
- Arrive as close as possible to when you need to be there.
- Avoid touching court gates, fences, benches, etc. if you can.
- Try to stay at least six feet apart from other players. Do not make physical contact with them (such as shaking hands or a high five).
- You should consider not playing doubles, which could lead to incidental contact and unwanted proximity. If you do play doubles, avoid all incidental contact, NO Bryan Brothers Chest Bumps and NO whispering to each other from a close distance to strategize.
- Avoid touching your face after handling a ball, racquet or other equipment. Wash your hands promptly if you have touched your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid sharing food, drinks or towels.
- Use your racquet/foot to pick up balls and hit them to your opponent. Avoid using your hands to pick up the balls.
- Stay on your side of court. Avoid changing ends of the court.
- Remain apart from other players when taking a break.
- If a ball from another court comes to you, send it back with a kick or with your racquet.
- Leave the court as soon as reasonably possible.
- Wash your hands thoroughly or use a hand sanitizer after coming off the court.
- Do not use the locker room or changing area. Shower at home.
- No extra-curricular or social activity should take place. No congregation after playing.
- All players should leave the facility immediately after play.
USE FOUR BALLS OR SIX BALLS
- Although unlikely, it’s possible that a tennis ball can transmit the COVID-19 virus, as virtually any hard surface can transmit the disease. So here is an extra precaution you can take to keep safe when playing tennis:
- Open two cans of tennis balls that do not share the same number on the ball.
- Take one set of numbered balls, and have your playing partner take a set of balls from the other can.
- Proceed with play, making sure to pick up your set of numbered balls only. Should a ball with the other number wind up on your side of the court, do not touch the ball with your hands. Use your racquet head or feet to advance the ball to the other side of the court.
Tennis is a sport that requires good judgment, self-discipline, plus a commitment to sportsmanship and the well-being of others. I am certainly committed to the social distancing being asked of us by public health experts. I'm also committed to finding ways that the public can remain healthy. Padlocking tennis courts is too heavy-handed a policy for me. I believe it is a well-intentioned, blunt action taken by administrators and park officials who don't understand our sport, nor the intelligence with which tennis players can get back on court.
P.S. I have a gallon of hand sanitizer and cans of new balls.