TENNIS serves to become one of the first sports to make a welcome return to the local circuit.
Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez convenes a meeting with council members on Wednesday regarding the resumption of this sport within his burgesses.
Since the Prime Minister initiated phase one of Government’s ease on covid19 restrictions, on Monday, Martinez and Tennis Association of TT (TATT) president Hayden Mitchell have held talks and are working together to ensure the sport’s reintroduction, while maintaining the required physical distancing measures.
Due to a significant decline in confirmed covid19 cases, Dr Rowley, on Saturday, gave the all-clear for members of the public to engage in restricted outdoor activities. This, however, excludes team activities, contact sport or those which require and encourage gatherings.
Since Rowley’s announcement, the tennis fraternity has been buzzing with the expectancy of a swift return. Tennis is considered a non-contact sport and can be comfortably played within the stipulated physical distancing requirements.
On Sunday, Mitchell issued a document entitled “Return to Tennis Guidelines” to Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe, Martinez, officials and athletes outlining multiple measures being implemented by TATT to ensure it upholds the Government’s regulations. These guidelines were adapted from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and United States Tennis Association in conformance with phase one of the TT’s phased lifting of covid19 restrictions.
Martinez admitted he was impressed by TATT’s innovative plan of action to safely hasten a return to tennis.
“The council had a discussion on Monday at a caucus meeting. (Tennis) was raised and put on the floor indicating that I got a request from the president of TATT who expressed his pleasure in having the resumption of tennis, as it’s a non-contact sport.
“I thought his application made sense so it was presented. We have another meeting on Wednesday morning which we will discuss it and how we will open the courts thereafter. Once the meeting is held, we will determine the conditions of which. I will present that to council for them to view in the meantime. I would like for it to work out for TT as a whole,” said Martinez.
TATT also recently launched its “Racquets Out” campaign which promotes tennis as a sport that easily adapts to the physical distancing requirements. This campaign takes a proactive approach to educating the public on the guidelines for staying safe while playing tennis in preparation for the rollback of lockdown restrictions.
With these guidelines in place, tennis can be one of the first sports to be approved to reconvene its local activities.
“We have national teams ready to train and we’re in constant contact with the ITF. We are also trying to make TT a training centre for ITF and that’s all part of it. We received positive feedback from the Port-of-Spain mayor and are quietly confident tennis can start back up once we abide by the requirements. TATT has sent its guidelines to the relevant authorities and we’re just waiting for the final go-ahead,” said Mitchell on Tuesday.
The TATT president admitted several precautionary measures must be taken beforehand if they are to secure a speedy revival. Sanitising and decontaminating of all courts and tennis facilities are integral to ensure a smooth start.
TATT’s “When Playing” guidelines recognise players should remain at least six feet apart, make no physical contact with each other (no shaking hands, high fives), no sharing food/drink/towel, use racquet or foot to pick up balls and hit them to an opponent and avoid changing ends of the court.
After playing, athletes are required to leave the court as soon as reasonably possible, wash hands thoroughly, avoid using locker rooms/changing areas, no social activity or congregating afterwards and that all players should leave immediately after play.
Additional precautions outlined for use of balls state that players must 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/student 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.”
Mitchell closed, “We want to get people active again. A lot of people have been at home and inactive and we want to encourage the active lifestyle. We have done all our prep work in advance because we are ready to launch. That is what really we’re pushing for, people need to be active. When the restrictions are lifted things will be done differently.”