Covid-19 Thoughts

As courts start to open up, you should take some time to think about how to stay safe on court.  As everyone says, the best way to stay safe from infection is to stay home and not go to public places like tennis courts.  While tennis is a sport with great distancing, the infection can still spread in a few ways:

  • Getting too close to others.  If people are working out, they are breathing harder than usual and 6 feet should be extended a bit.

  • Balls getting passed from an infected players's hands to another player's hands.

  • Droplets on the courts getting picked up by the balls.  Working out causes heavier breathing.  That causes more droplets to land on the court, leading to getting on people's hands.  Those droplets can last longer than your time on court, so you are coming into some contact with the people on the court in the hours (maybe days) before you.

So, it's not just about keeping 6 feet away from your opponent.  There are other ways the germs can get on your hands.  So, hand washing, hand sanitizing and not touching your face are still critical.

 

This is not an endorsement or suggestion that you should go play.  For high school players, your parents need to make decisions about whether or not the risk is acceptable.  But if you are going to go play, you should try some of these tips to make it safer.

Start by reading this page from the USTA with their recommendations.  Reading the ideas below are mostly repeats, but there are a few other things.

  • If possible, play with your family.  You are already around them on a daily basis, so they are your safest option.

  • If you aren't playing with your family, limit your group.  Singles or hitting with one person is safer than doubles or hitting with 3.  And playing with the same person on different days is safer than playing with different people each time.

  • Don't touch things like the net, net posts, benches, the entry gates (enter using your feet or body instead)

  • If a ball rolls onto your court from another court, kick it back instead of picking it up.

  • Don't touch your face.

  • Bring hand sanitizer and apply it after you play, or possibly even during play.  If possible, wash your hands instead both before and after (it's better than sanitizer).

  • Outdoors in the sun is best.  The virus has a shorter life-span in the sun.  Tiny droplets that hang in the air a while also get blown off-court faster outside.

  • Stay away from people on other courts.

  • It's best if you don't change ends when playing.  But if you do, one player sets up on left side of the net, the other on the right.  When you change ends, change on your side so you don't get within 6 feet.

  • If possible, wash your hands before you play.

  • No handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, or even elbow or shoe taps.  That's all too close.

  • Don't touch your face.  Oh, I already mentioned that twice?

  • Be smart.

  • If someone at the courts is coughing, consider going home.  Yes, they shouldn't be there, but they are and their germs could linger a long time.

  • I know chatting is a big part of off-season play.  Try to do most of your chatting before or after you play and from a safe distance (more than 6 feet).  That keeps the courts rotating faster and it's easier to control your distance.

  • Masks for play?  I have no recommendation here - this is entirely up to you, your family and possibly your doctor.  I could see masks causing enough breathing difficulty that trying to exercise with a mask would be more dangerous than not wearing one.  I'll be testing out a biking mask soon that was rated very high for air flow, so I'll be the guinea pig since coaches may have to mask up full-time.

Even better methods:

  • Each player has balls that they can touch, and you can't touch the other person's.  When you start, mark half the balls with a big mark and roll them to one player.  The other person gets the non-marked balls.  One person will pick up and feed, or serve with the marked balls.  The other person does that with the non-marked balls.  Kick them or hit them to their "owner" without touching them.  Each player having their own marked Wilson Trinity balls is a good way to do this economically.  Players Racquet Shop in Beaverton probably has them and is offering drive-by pickups I believe, or Roxanne may be able to sell some of the teams' stash.

  • If working with a coach.  The coach feeds and picks up one set of balls.  The player serves and picks up a different set.  That way, you never touch the same balls.