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When will tennis courts reopen after lockdown, and is it safe to play?

When will tennis courts reopen after lockdown, and is it safe to play?

When will public tennis courts reopen? Outdoor courts may open from Wednesday, but clubhouses and changing-rooms must stay closed. You can play singles against one person from another household. But if you want to play doubles, everyone has to be from the same household. These new rules only apply in England. Across the rest of

When will public tennis courts reopen?

Outdoor courts may open from Wednesday, but clubhouses and changing-rooms must stay closed. You can play singles against one person from another household. But if you want to play doubles, everyone has to be from the same household. These new rules only apply in England. Across the rest of the United Kingdom, the advice is still to stay at home.

How are clubs preparing?

The majority of local clubs are unmanned. They often require members to use a digital keypad system, or simply give them a metal key to the courts. The problem for these small operations is that the Lawn Tennis Association may well stipulate a booking system. If there is no way of reserving a court, dozens of people could show up at weekends and create an unscheduled gathering.

Larger, smarter venues – and the 100 David Lloyd Leisure clubs across the UK come to mind here – will run into a different king of snag. You have to walk through the indoor areas, including a security gate, to reach the courts.

What protocols are in place?

Small clubs are being left to perform their own risk assessments. Bigger ones are grappling with a mass of detail, which many hope the Lawn Tennis Association will supply on Tuesday. For instance, how long should people be allowed to play for? And how many people should coaches be able to give lessons to in a single day? “I suspect we won’t be reopening on Wednesday,” said the manager of one large club. “There’s too many questions still to answer.”

How do you enforce the rules?

This is tricky, as most officials are volunteers, and the complicated situation around singles and doubles makes it all the harder. How many will want to interfere in a doubles foursome, even if the players seem likely to come from different households?

“Are you going to get people phoning each other, going down to the courts, meeting up and playing?” asked James Starr, the director of tennis at Oxshott Village Sports Club. “That’s going to be a problem. It’s just going to be a case of hoping people act responsibly.”

Will the finances work?

It’s better than being locked down, for sure. And there is an unusual opportunity here, to attract people who might otherwise be playing football or training in the gym. “I am hearing a lot of enquiries from people who want to start or restart playing tennis,” said Dan Travis, a Brighton-based coach. “Especially those whose kids are climbing the walls at home.”

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