Tennis lends itself to social distancing, but the United States Tennis Association is still taking precautions to follow CDC guidelines.
The USTA released guidelines for players and facilities on Wednesday to promote social distancing in midst of COVID-19.
“Tennis is a fairly segregated sport anyway, especially when you consider singles,” Mitchell High School tennis coach Pat Moller said. “So I am hopeful we can meet the guidelines.”
The USTA created two “Playing Tennis Safely” documents, with one tailored for players and the other for facilities. The documents are posted on usta.com.
The long list of guidelines for players and facilities include:
Wash your hands with 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.
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).
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.
People should stay at least six feet apart to maintain social distancing.
Use every second court where practical.
In Mitchell, Hitchcock Park remains open to the public as the city is encouraging social distancing measures.
“We are just asking the public to use the CDC guidelines for social distancing and right now it’s not for organized activities on any city facilities,” Mitchell Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said.
The spring high school sports season was canceled and the USTA suspended sanctioned events through May 31. The Hitchcock Park nets remain up and the courts are being utilized for recreational play.
“We had put (the nets) up prior to the COVID outbreak and we just thought because it’s not a contact sport, we didn’t need to take them down at this time,” Powell said. “We are monitoring that and making sure that people are using the social distancing guidelines.”
Moller and his daughter, Amber, played on Tuesday. He said a few other families were playing, along with other recreational players.
“I suppose there were probably a dozen different people out there,” Moller said. “The thing about it is nobody was playing tennis in consecutive courts. The nice thing about the courts we have is we can kind of be separate and so there’s a lot of space out there.”
Hitchcock Park has 12 total courts. They are spread out among three different sets, which allows for players to be separate from each other.
The weather has gradually gotten nicer in recent weeks and Moller points out tennis is an activity that allows people to get outdoors.
“It’s good for your mental health and it’s good for your physical health, too,” Moller said. “I am just really hopeful that we can continue to have some of those opportunities and still be able to stay safe.”