It’s not over yet!
Since my club re-opened in May, I’ve been incredibly appreciative (often touched) by the tremendous amount of support we’ve received from our players. From the moment we were forced to close, we started working toward the day we could reopen. Major renovations began to both our indoor and outdoor facilities, and new procedures were designed to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for our players and staff.
From a business perspective, my only goal at the time was to complete those programs that were interrupted by our closing. I wanted to give our players what they paid for and, equally important, get our pros back to work so they could support their families. I felt that if we could get those programs off the books, we would go into the fall in a pretty good position. I was not planning to offer any summer junior programs, nor was I going to open our pool.
As we got closer to reopening, the demand for both junior and adult programs (as well as our pool) increased daily. Everyone had been living in quarantine for 8 to 10 weeks, and they were aching to get back to some type of activity and sense of normalcy. I ultimately decided to offer a few camp options and sell a limited number of pool memberships.
We knew that when people came back, many would be nervous and their emotions raw. I told our pros that, for the first few weeks, teaching tennis was their third priority. First was to make their players feel safe, and second was to do our best to ease their tension. I also made sure they knew that there was to be no political commentary. November is the time for that.
Our doors reopened in May, and people came storming back. After two months away, it was great to see everyone, and they were happy to see us. Our programs are thriving. Our safety guidelines were (and remain) intense, and everyone has been more than willing to follow them.
But that was then.
Though the majority of players at my club are still following our safe practices, I’ve recently seen others travel a different path. On more than one occasion, a polite request to put on a mask has been met with a belligerent response. In fact, one person simply said, “No.” Another’s behavior caused them to receive a two-week suspension from the club, and yet another has been permanently banned. I’ve heard similar stories from my colleagues at other clubs.
We all need to remember (and remind others) that this pandemic is not over. Not even close. In fact, in many areas, it’s getting worse. We cannot let our guard down and must not allow our players to relax with safe practices. Is it a pain to wear a mask? Can it be awkward to remind others to put theirs on? Is it annoying (or even necessary) to color-code our ball hoppers and sanitize our players’ hands at the end of every lesson so they feel safe? Of course, it is. But it doesn’t matter. We must continue to do it—every day!
To the players who are continuing to strictly follow their club’s safety guidelines, all of us in the industry thank you. To those who are resisting (for whatever reason), I say that the guidelines your facility has put in place are not requests, they are requirements. They are for your safety and for the safety of others—and they are not optional.
To my fellow tennis pros and club owners who may be feeling the worst is past and they can begin to let things slide, I simply say, “Sit back, close your eyes and remember when your club was closed the last time.”
Do you really want to go there again?
Greg Moran is the Owner/Director of Tennis at Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, Conn.
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