Cults Tennis Club hoping to reopen in June

It’s the question on the tip of every club player’s tongue. When could tennis safely restart again?

When clubs are estimating to reopen

Gareth Rennie has been head coach of registered LTA venue Cults Tennis Club for ten years and is hopeful there will be tennis played this summer.

“We hope to reopen at one of the earlier phases of relaxed lockdown protocol. A rough prediction is June at the earliest and with limited scope to access the courts. When we reopen there will be a lot of social distancing measures to keep players safe which the American governing body USTA has devised. Tournaments are likely to be shelved for 2020 unless they can operate within the guidance from the government.”

For Rubislaw Tennis Club they are unsure of even an estimation at opening yet. Club chairman Steve Smith says health issues have to be considered first.

“Who can say when we’re going to reopen. Health considerations have to be taken into account first. It’ll be as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”

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Coach Gareth Rennie has been at Cults Tennis Club for ten years

Some first year as club chairman

This is Steve Smith’s first year as chairman of Rubislaw Tennis Club and what a start his chairmanship has been given. He laments how he’s only been in the role six months and already had to shut the club down. Mr Smith says the most disappointing part of it all is the fact the season was just on the cusp of beginning.

“We were obviously disappointed to close the club entirely, particularly as the season was just about to start. We were just about to have our open day for non-members and our season opening day for members. We tried everything in the previous two weeks to remain open. We followed LTA guidance- closing the clubhouse, no gathering, no handshakes, no changing ends etc- but eventually we ran out of options.”

Tournaments at Rubislaw have been shelved but there is still hope the club championship will be played sometime this year.

“The local leagues and tournaments have bee cancelled,” says Steve. “We’re still hopeful we can re-open and plan to hold our annual club championships in some form, if possible.”

The artificial clay courts at Rubislaw Tennis Club should be starting to fill with tennis players as the season begins

Time to train indoors like Andy and Jamie Murray

Sheila McKenzie, one of Cult’s Tennis Club’s most senior members, says players were already putting in social distancing measures at the first mention of coronavirus.

“The social tennis on a Tuesday and a Thursday which I am a part of, we were already putting in social distancing measures ourselves right at the beginning before the lockdown. I was taking Flash anti-bacterial wipes to use on my racquet handle.”

Mrs McKenzie, a former president of the club and who last year entered her eightieth year still playing tennis, acknowledged it must be hard for young people not to be able to get on the court at the moment but explained that there are still things budding tennis players can be doing.

“It’s a shame the young people can’t go play tennis with their friends but there is still plenty they can do during lockdown. Around here everyone has their own garden so they can go out and practice individual skills using soft balls and the like. Remember that Judy Murray used to train Andy and Jamie indoors in their house.”

Sheila McKenzie is still playing tennis in her 80th year
Cults Tennis Club could reopen in June

An easy sport to implement social distancing measures

There is a belief in tennis circles that the sport is far more pliable to meeting social distancing measures than others. Mr Smith describes how members at his club were implementing social distancing measures before lockdown was instilled

“Before the shutdown we were able to play and observe social distancing. Once lockdown restrictions ease somewhat we would hope to be allowed to re-open in some capacity.”

Mrs McKenzie says “the very nature of tennis” already observes social distancing.

“We are not close when we play. It will be very easy for players to keep the distance.”

Mr Smith adds: “With a bit of planning and co-operation from members it should be possible to play safely. It’d be good for health, mental well-being and morale.”

If moral is sinking ever lower with no clear end for lockdown in sight, a bit of wisdom is imparted from Mrs McKenzie who has seen many a disaster come and pass throughout her life including the Second World War.

“If you do get a little down about not playing tennis at the moment, remember that tennis will return and clubs will reopen.”

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