How I'm Reopening: Ari Roberts

May 29, 2020

Please note: The USTA’s Medical Advisory Committee has established player and facility safety guidelines to be referenced and utilized by all of USTA Eastern's tennis providers. In addition to the guidelines, providers should also follow federal, state and local laws, regulations, executive orders and guidance, including, but not limited to, regulations and guidance from the CDC, OSHA, state and local Departments of Health, and other agencies, which are regularly updated. Our goal is to facilitate an open platform to encourage dialogue and share best practices so tennis providers can make informed decisions relating to reopening.


USTA Eastern is getting back in the swing as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wane. Over the next few months, we’ll talk to facility owners across the section about their experiences reopening their businesses to learn what measures they are taking to keep staff members and consumers safe in this unmistakably new reality. Here, we speak with Ari Roberts, Founder and President of MatchPoint Tennis in Goshen, N.Y. “I have been working on a plan for reopening since early April,” he says. “And every week I’ve needed to edit it to fit how [information] has changed.”


Many tennis facilities are facing similar challenges as they make preparations to reopen their doors. What would you say has been the most useful or productive measure you’ve taken to stay on schedule?

Roberts: The single most useful measure we have taken at MatchPoint has been communicating with our members and juniors. Starting in mid-April, we have had a series of Zoom calls: First with our members, where we explained how our procedures for booking court time, league schedules and adult classes would change for their safety. Our number one goal was to make our customers feel that we are taking all measures to create a safe environment within our facility. Then, we had calls with our juniors and parents and explained similar measures for our junior programming. The structure of check-in for classes has changed, the format of classes has changed, and the organization of each class needs to be at the highest level to ensure the safety of every child in our program.


What are some examples of those measures?

Roberts: We’ll be recording which court players are on and limiting enrollment to no more than four per court. We’ll also be taking the temperature of both juniors and staff members at check-in. No more demo racquets will be given out, and only pros will pick up the balls.


What has been the most challenging aspect of reopening your facility?

Roberts: The most challenging part of reopening is the unknown. We didn’t know when outdoor courts would be permitted to open, we don’t know when indoors can open, we don’t know if programming will be allowed this summer. Additionally, misinformation is going around.


How have you had to change your approach regarding play opportunities within your facility based on the USTA guidelines?

Roberts: Many of our adult programs were drop-in, pay as you go, as well as team events. These are not allowed at the current time. Now adults must register prior to participating in our adult programming, pay with a credit card prior to arriving. We want as few touchpoints and as little exchanging of anything as possible, so we don’t want money changing hands. There will also be a limited amount of players on court and within the vicinity of our facility at one time.


In addition to the USTA guidelines, are you taking any other measures to make customers feel safe while playing or while they’re in your facility?

Roberts: We are taking all of the USTA guidelines into account in all of our current plans. Additionally, we are communicating all of our policies. We are also only allowing one parent in and around our facility with juniors, and [the parent’s] temperature will be taken as well.


Operationally, how are you working with staff regarding training? What measures are you considering putting in place to protect them?

Roberts: The MatchPoint staff is like family to me. We are, and will do, everything possible to keep them safe in the workplace. That includes providing them with PPE and placing hand sanitizer on every court. We will constantly clean equipment, and we will continuously update and educate staff members on any changes necessary for their safety.


How have you adjusted your programming timelines? Are you moving any programs to the fall, for example?

Roberts: In the next few weeks, we will continue our spring programming which we were part of the way through when we suspended operation. However, to maintain safe distancing we will be doubling the amount of classes so that the maximum amount of participants for each court will stay at four. All of our other programming is currently on as scheduled.


Is there any other advice you’d like to offer your fellow business owners?

Roberts: You cannot communicate enough with your customers and members. Our responsibility as facility owners/managers is to have our customers feel safe within our tennis facilities. Communicate with your staff to educate them on safety. Tennis will grow, our members will come back, and our programming will thrive once again if we all communicate and work to ensure the safety of tennis in the COVID-19 environment.


Overall, how do you think COVID-19 will change the way players think about tennis? Do you predict any positive changes to the sport that will result from these unprecedented times?

Roberts: The COVID-19 pandemic is horrible. The illness and loss of life is horrific. Tennis is one of the few sports with automatic social distancing. [With outdoor courts opening] in the last few weeks the game has been an outlet for family-friendly exercise. We can promote the game we love as one of the few healthy, heart-pumping sports that can be played safely in the current COVID environment. That's a huge asset.


Read how Jason Wass is reopening Sportime in Kings Park, N.Y. here.


If you are interested in attending one of our "ACEing the Return" webinars where facility owners and managers share more of their insights about reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, please email Monica LaMura at lamura@eastern.usta.com to RSVP.

Skip Advertisement


Related Articles

  • 18 & Over 10.0 Mixed Champions: Metro Region
    League Sectional Results
    September 28, 2023
    2023 Eastern League Sectional Championships are in full swing! Throughout the summer, USTA Eastern League teams from all of Eastern’s six regions are competing for the chance to represent the section at the National Championships. Check this page for the latest results, photos and more. Read More
  • What does it actually mean when you’re diagnosed with “tennis elbow”? Dr. William N. Levine, Chief of Orthopedics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia, shares his insights about the injury as well as the various measures players can take to avoid getting sidelined by it. Read More
  • Eastern Board member Joe Ceriello reflects on his 20 years in the tennis industry and how the game helped him come into his own. Read More