Brian Lutz / March 30, 2020

Are you a victim of institutionalized tennis instruction? You’re not alone. Join Backhand City’s Newsletter with Tennis Pro Brian Lutz to find your ah moment.

Is Tennis The Best Social Distancing Sport?

It slowly unravelled for all of us.

First, the shocker in the tennis world. Indian Wells cancels event during the first day of qualification. The entire tennis world was on site.

There was no collaboration simply a directive from the local municipality that the tennis tournament was a public health hazard and the joint ATP and WTA event could not be held.


This was 18 days ago. How are world has changed since this day as the entire United States is on lock down and uncertainty remains life is at a stand still.

For tennis players at City Parks (like this picture at Douglas Park in Miami, FL), Private Tennis Clubs, Commercial Clubs and HOA’s decisions have been made and for the most part there is no tennis at metropolitan areas throughout the country


A few HOA’s operate for their residents only but for the most part tennis players sit and wait for any glimmer of hope.


Instagram is full of improvised indoor and backyard tennis courts but how long with this novelty last? As the number of testing rises and infections test positive we can only wonder.

Here two tennis players make the best of Covid-19 pandemic on Instagram @Backhand_City

I’ve driven around to various courts in South Florida to check out the carnage. Mostly empty lots of asphalt with welcoming nets and white lines only to be met with barrier to entry.

Many have locks with eager park staffers shuffling around in golf carts to keep would be park goers away from public space.


At Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables joggers and walkers have overwhelmed the fairways as pent up urbanites seek refuge in the great public spaces in many metropolitan areas.

Maintenance staff at Granada quickly adapted to new activity by taping the greens with police tape like a crime scene to preserve the manicured greens by diverting foot traffic.

Julie Fischer, a Professor of Microbiology and immunology at Georgetown University, is less draconian in her assessment.

As she told the Washington Post and reported by Palm Beach Post, to prevent the balls from being potential disease spreaders, players need be conscientious about not coughing or sneezing into them or into their hands, and to use hand sanitizer or soap and water to keep their hands clean and to disinfect any gated entrances.

“If you’re taking these precautions, and you are both outside on opposite ends of the tennis court, you are really posing very minimal risk of transmission in that setting, especially if everyone maintains that social distancing discipline,” she said.

News Observer of Raleigh, NC reports the increased social and physical benefits of tennis to the immune system.

Dr. David Nieman, a professor at Appalachian State, is director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis and has researched exercise immunology for more than 30 years. He’s a proponent for maintaining outdoor exercise, with safeguards, during the pandemic, saying 30 to 60 minutes a day can develop a stronger immune system that can help offset the effects of the coronavirus and its respiratory ills.

“The most important thing people can do right now other than follow all the hygiene rules is to get out and engage in regular physical activities,” Nieman said. 


NY Post has reported that the USTA Billy Jean King National Tennis Center part of the Queens stadium complex that’s home to the U.S. Open will be transformed into a temporary hospital to aid in the fight against the Covid-19.

An indoor training area at the tennis center is expected to be turned into a 350-bed medical facility beginning on Tuesday, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier confirmed.

The site will likely be used to treat non-COVID-19 patients, but that could change based on need, according to a spokesman for New York City’s emergency management office, which is working on the project with the Army Corps of Engineers and state officials.

Economically, this could have a profound effect on the industry which is driven by tennis coaches, professionals that provide the service to that spawn consumption of the products that players use to play the sport.

Sofia Shapatava has sent a petition signed by over 650 professional tennis players to the International Tennis Federation seeking financial aid during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The ITF canceled the tour on March until at least June 7th.

Shapatava’s Petition states:

Professional tennis players all over the world stopped to compete, whilst top athletes have resources to support themselves for a couple of months, lower ranked players suffer a lot. Not many will be able to support their every day life and then come back to playing after three months without competition, the companies in charge of tennis circuit should help to secure players, or at least help them through this hard times for our sport. Any help will do for majority. Many companies organized paid leave to their employees and tennis players are also employees of world’s tennis organizations. I do believe they should get some support as well, as we pay taxes, we pay licenses and we are working for them.The total shut down was very unexpected and majority is very affected by this. Though it is a hard time for everyone, there has to be support and help also for everyone. 

Tennis Channel has adjusted its programming featuring a live studio show from 12-3 EST highlighting news and events surround Corona Virus.

They will also adjust there match programming with replays from the 2019 and early 2020 tournament seasons.

With Tennis’ 5.7 Billion dollar annual GDP what and who will survive the Darwinian moment that will effect consumers emotionally for years to come.

With major tennis tournaments like the Olympics (now postponed), French Open moved to Sept 2020 and with Wimbledon and the US Open on the horizon is it possible the Australian brush fires that threatened the first Grand Slam of the season are a distance memory.

Natural disasters whether its brush fires or the threat of incurable mass respiratory infections are some how a reminder to us all about natural selection.

The economic effect that could cascade through tennis communities could be profound.

The largest brands in tennis: Wimbledon (officially canceled on Apr 1st) and the US Open are in serious doubt. With NYC being the epicenter of the outbreak. Is is fair to say dense large scale commercial tennis events are the farthiest thing from a consumers mind?


What will the behavior be for fans and players once this things clears and it will clear one day. Covid-19 effects travel, lodging and daily behavior. With test kits already in production in Japan that test Covid-19 in 15 minutes and other built in the US that does the test in 45 minutes. Surely, this will greatly solve issues of uncertainty but it will take time for the technology to reach the medical facilities.

Resilience, national and local data, and certainty will get us back to normalcy but a tournament like the US Open held in NYC each year that generates $300 million dollars in revenue could have a profound economic effect on US tennis if it is cancelled.

The great thing about tennis is it has social distancing built into it. It’s great for mental and physical health which are appreciated now more than ever.


Here is an open letter to club members in North Carolina as they leave no stone unturned to offer social distancing recreational outlets to their members.

Dear Raleigh Racquet Club Member,

Thank you so much for your support of the club during these trying times. This week, the restaurant has served nearly 300 meals to RRC Family’s. We know these last few days of closure have affected our member’s ability to exercise and gain some mental clarity through tennis.
In light of the Wake county announcements and the encouragement by health care professionals for people to get outside and exercise we will OPEN the courts for SINGLES member play only. There are some strict guidelines that must be put in place for this to occur and we know that our members will adhere. All of these are in alignment with CDC and NC guidelines for COVID-19 at this time.

The following procedures are effective immediately and courts can be reserved for TODAY starting at 4pm Please read each of them.
·The Club House front desk and bathroom areas will remain closed. All tennis is outdoors.
·Courts will be available from 8:00am to 7:00pm. There will be no night time play.
· All play is for RRC members only, no guests allowed on the courts.

The club continues with restrictions on playing format and policies that are a combination of thoughtful and smart. Could this be adopted for municipalities as well as private tennis clubs?

Play can be SINGLES only, per Wake County proclamation guidelines. NO Double play is allowed unless all players are from the same family. ( See below)
·Immediate family members only can be on a court with more than 2 players and a maximum of 4. For example Mother, Father and 2 children.


Please arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before your scheduled court time.
· All members must leave the club following tennis, there is no socializing at the club and the club house will remain closed.
· All members must take their temperature prior to coming to the club. Anyone with a temperature above 100.4 degrees must stay home.
·Members are permitted to play 1 time per day and no more than 3 times per week to allow for others to get the exercise they need.
·All members must maintain social distancing throughout play of at least 6 feet.
·All members must sanitize their hands before and after play. We have additional sanitizing devices near the courts as well as one on the patio.
·Please bring your own water, as the water coolers have been removed. The benches and chairs are also removed from the courts for the safety and health of our members.
· There will be no teaching of lessons allowed at the present time.
If the restaurant is open during your scheduled court time and you want to order food for take-out, please call the restaurant prior to playing. We will have your order ready when you finish. Please call the club when you are exiting the courts and a staff member will meet you outside with your order. The restaurant is open M-F 11:30am-6:30pm.
These are trying times for everyone and we understand that getting exercise and mental clarity is important for everyone. With things changing daily we will continue to update our members and appreciate your adherence to all of these guidelines which will make for a safe and healthy experience. Thank you for your continued support of the Raleigh Racquet Club.


I think a lot will depend what area you live in how densely your area is populated. I also think it depends the the community and how committed the operators of tennis facilities are into opening back up tennis courts.

I think you are seeing that tennis is a very healthy social distancing sport that can be a valuable asset to the community during the Covid-19 crisis.

#StayHome #StaySafe


Daily Tennis Podcast: Find Your Aha Moment

Buy Tee Shirts and Tanks for tennis players that crave inspiration and desire to reach greater heights. Retro Miami Tennis Shirts.