The sporting landscape, along with much of the normal life, has been transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is likely to be a long time before things can go back to how they were before the outbreak and tennis will be no different.
To underline that point, the International Tennis Federation has now issued guidelines for precautions that need to be taken before domestic and national level competitions can resume again.
Amongst them are a requirement for players to arrive at a venue already fully dressed in their tennis gear, and for them to leave straight away after a match has been concluded, going home to shower and change or to a hotel, rather than in the locker room.
Off court, all players and match officials should wear protective masks at all times, whilst ball boys and girls must wear rubber gloves. Players will need to provide their own set of balls, each of which needs to be sequentially numbered.
Provisions on social distancing mean that there can be no customary handshake at the end of their match, and everybody concerned must stay at least two metres apart from each other – a provision which means that there can be no doubles matches of any kind for the time being.
When it comes to the handover, players must swap sides of the court at the opposite end of the net from each other, and they are also discouraged from sharing drinks, food or equipment.
They are also urged not to sign autographs or pose for selfies with fans, although these guidelines should not be so hard to observe, as there will no spectators in the stands anyway, as all events will be staged behind closed doors.
And, despite the guidelines, the ITF has also advised that the decisions of national governments and medical authorities must take precedence. Tennis can only resume when they advise that it is safe to do so.
Competitive tennis was suspended in mid-March because of the coronavirus outbreak, and neither the men’s (ATP) or women’s (WTA) tours are expected to resume until July 13th at the earliest.
When it does come back, the sport will probably not look or feel as it did before. Unfortunately, like so much else, it will be an accommodation that will have to be made in the Brave New Covid-19 World.