May 15, 2020
 
Don’t Touch Anyone Else’s Balls! Coronavirus Leads To New Tennis Rules As Courts Reopen
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Don’t touch anyone else’s balls, shake hands or high-five your opponent.
These are among the list of no-nos as people return to the Tennis court following the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.
The relaxation of strict stay at home rules announced by the government means that people can now indulge in unlimited exercise and travel to public places for outdoor activities.
Tennis, along with golf, has been cited by the government as one of the sports that can make a tentative return as close person-to-person contact can be avoided – and clubs have started to reopen.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), tennis’s national governing body, told HuffPost UK it worked closely with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to come up with some clear guidelines to allow people to return to playing tennis safely.
Demand from people eager to play tennis is already high and on Wednesday, the first day the government’s new relaxed rules meant courts could open, the LTA reported its online booking service saw 20,000 bookings compared to 3,000 at the same time last year – a staggering increase of 567%.
 However, players need to use their own clearly marked balls, keep at least two metres from other players at all times and are warned not to make physical contact such as shaking hands or high-fiving in celebration.
If a tennis ball that isn’t theirs needs returning to another player or court, they are told to use their foot or racket to kick or hit it away and they are also urged to stay on their side of the court and avoid changing ends.
 Booking on our website was more intense than booking tickets for Glastonbury."Highgate Tennis Court, London 
Highgate Tennis Court in London reported on Friday that after 52 days of lockdown and no tennis, its courts were once again open for business – but for singles matches only and for one hour sessions.
The tennis club stated: “Booking on our website was more intense than booking tickets for Glastonbury, but luckily no technical glitches.”
 Olly Scadgell, participation director at LTA, told HuffPost UK that they are anticipating huge demand to play tennis this weekend and over the coming weeks, but the most important thing is to ensure people do so safely.
He said the new government measures allowing people to use outdoor sports facilities have come as a huge relief to lots of tennis players.
“People just want to get back on the tennis courts and do some exercise and have fun.” he said.
“We are delighted that people can get back to playing after two months of being in lockdown.
“But what is fundamentally important is that people stay safe and play tennis while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“This is why we have worked with the government and Sports England to produce some robust guidelines using a safety-first approach which concentrates on minimising social interaction.
 We are asking tennis players to mark their own tennis balls with either their initials or some other marking and only use and handle these and whoever they are playing with should do the same.”Olly Scadgell, the Lawn Tennis Association 
“We feel this adjustment of lockdown restrictions is a great opportunity to encourage people to get on tennis courts and have fun while exercising, but we want them to do it in a safe way.”
Scadgell explained that while there was no specific evidence to point that tennis balls can spread Covid-19, as a precautionary measure, their guidelines urge players to use their own clearly marked tennis balls and not touch any balls that aren’t theirs.
  
“We are asking tennis players to mark their own tennis balls with either their initials or some other marking and only use and handle these and whoever they are playing with should do the same.”
The LTA guidance states that there should only be a maximum of two people per court (singles play only), but players can be from different households.
They need to stay at least two metres away from others at all times including when taking breaks and before, during and after play.
They are also told to avoid chasing the ball down to another court if other players are using it.
Players are also warned that onsite toilet facilities may not be open and where they are, they should take particular care. They should avoid equipment such as courtside benches, net handles or court sweepers.
Anyone going to play tennis is told to take hand sanitiser with them and all their own equipment such as rackets, grips, hats and towels.
They should arrive changed and ready to play and shower at home and not use the venue’s changing area. They should also leave the court before the end of their allotted time so it is empty for the next players.
 Although playing tennis is now possible in England, tennis facilities and courts in Scotland and Wales remain closed.
Meanwhile, although amateurs can return to tennis, it has been announced that there will be no professional tennis until the end of July.
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have extended their suspension of the game. 
The men’s and women’s tours were due to resume on July 13 but that has now been extended until the end of that month.Related... Here Is What The 51-Page Official Lockdown Document Says You Can And Cannot Do Wimbledon 2020 Tournament Cancelled Amid Coronavirus Lockdown English Tourist Spots On Alert For ‘Weekend Mayhem’ After Lockdown Rules Change
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