USTA Statement: Time To Take Collective Pause From Playing Tennis


WASHINGTON, April 4, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

The coronavirus crisis is creating challenges for everyone across the globe, including those who enjoy playing tennis. On Friday, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) issued a statement on the safety of playing tennis during the COVID-19 pandemic. In pandemic times, a smart – albeit maybe an unpopular – conclusion was reached by the USTA.

“The USTA believes it is in the best interest of society to take a collective pause from playing the sport we love,” the USTA wrote on its website, based on the recommendations of the USTA COVID-19 Advisory Group.

“American tennis players are asking for guidance regarding the safety of playing tennis, especially when social distancing and space sharing issues are now paramount.”

Further, the statement said: “Although there are no specific studies on tennis and COVID-19, medical advisors believe there is the possibility that the virus responsible for COVID-19 could be transmitted through common sharing and handling of tennis balls, gate handles, benches, net posts, and even court surfaces.

“As a result of this, the USTA asks that as tennis players we need to be patient in our return to the courts and consider how our decisions will not only affect ourselves, but how our decisions can impact our broader communities. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to stay active and healthy with at home exercise and creative ‘tennis at home’ variations. We look forward to our return to tennis in a safe manner and will provide updates as new information becomes available. By practicing all the recommended guidelines presently put forth by our medical experts, that return will happen in the soonest possible timeframe.”

Reacting to the USTA’s statement, longtime tennis writer and broadcaster Richard Ingham Evans wrote on Twitter: “Tennis clubs should close, yes, but not one or two court facilities in gated communities where only residents have the key. Play in gloves & you will be as safe as it is possible to be. Safer than shopping. People NEED exercise, motivation. Immune system weakened without it.” 

Meanwhile, New York Times tennis correspondent Ben Rothenberg tweeted his assessment of the decision: “It’s incredible how the thinking about tennis in the time of coronavirus has evolved. Took a while, but this has felt like the smartest conclusion to reach.”