Playing tennis during coronavirus: What are the latest rules on safety?

May 12, 2020
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    A tennis court in Germany

    The suspension of the professional tennis tours because of coronavirus has been extended to 7 June

    People in England can take unlimited outdoor exercise from Wednesday under the government’s latest guidelines on the coronavirus pandemic.

    Tennis, along with golf and angling, has been cited as a sport that can be played safely, while keeping two metres apart from anyone else.

    The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has published detailed guidelines, based on discussion with government, on what is now permitted. So what can you expect to find open, and how are you advised to stay safe?

    What can I do on Wednesday?

    Outdoor courts in England will be open for singles, but only for doubles if all four players are members of the same household.

    The LTA guidelines say indoor and bubble courts should remain closed, along with all social spaces and gyms.

    But on outdoor courts, one-to-one tennis coaching, as well as a game of singles with someone from outside your household, will be permitted.

    Players are being advised to initial their tennis balls, so they only pick up and serve with their own set, and the LTA also recommends players do not change ends – or, at the very least, do so at opposite sides of the net.

    Can I play anywhere?

    Venues have been advised to take time to ensure the are set up to reopen safely, so players in certain places might have to wait a little longer.

    And if you are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you will will have to show even more patience, as all tennis facilities and courts there remain closed.

    How to stay safe

    Bring your own equipment – the minimum necessary – and only touch your own tennis balls.

    Initial those balls, so you know which ones to serve with, and return ones which aren’t yours with either your racquet or foot.

    Avoid changing ends every couple of games, and bring a full water bottle and some hand sanitiser to the court with you.

    Do not try to adjust the net. Venues are being told to ensure they remain at the appropriate height, and to take the net winders away.

    What other differences will I notice?

    Tennis balls

    People are being encouraged to use their own tennis balls

    You may have nowhere to sit because unnecessary equipment such as benches should be removed.

    Doors and court gates may be left open, and session times slightly altered. Venues and clubs have been advised to leave a gap of about 10 minutes between bookings, to avoid unnecessary contact at the changeover.

    Can I take lessons?

    Yes – individual lessons can restart for both adults and children.

    Coaches should position themselves on the other side of the net, limit the use of equipment, and use new or fresh balls for each lesson where possible.

    Balls that are stored for 72 hours can then be reused.

    Only the coach should touch the balls, but if your serve needs a bit of work, the advice is to bring your own set of balls.

    When will I be able to watch tennis on TV again?

    The professional circuit is still some way away from a return.

    The tours are currently suspended until 12 July, but the tournaments scheduled to take place in the last three weeks of July are likely to be called off by the end of this week.

    The US Tennis Association will decide in June whether the US Open can be staged in New York from 31 August.

    Before any tournaments can resume, however, the elite will have to train. Sport England is due to explain how and when that can happen over the next 24 hours.

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