Indoor Tennis Player Perspective

January 05, 2021

As an avid tennis player, I can’t imagine not playing tennis all year long. My tennis season starts in January by playing indoors on both a USTA League Mixed Doubles team and typically the singles line on a ladies' team. In the spring, I usually play on several ladies' teams both indoors and outdoors. By the height of summer, I focus more of my attention on playing in a USTA Flex League and a few USTA sanctioned tournaments. I close out the year by playing in a flex league and in a singles league during the fall. Then in November, I start my off-season of rest and recuperation.


Of course, that was all before COVID-19. This past year, my season was delayed but eventually started in the summer with outdoor tennis. I enjoyed every minute of it. Now, the indoor season is here, and honestly, I had reservations at the beginning. First, I was concerned about the safety and cleanliness of the tennis facilities where I played. Second, with masks mandated for all indoor activities in Maryland, I was worried about my ability to play tennis with a mask on.

Faced with the gloomy prospect of not being able to play tennis at all until spring, I thought I would do some research to see if I could ease my fears of playing indoors.

As an employee of USTA Mid-Atlantic, I understand how USTA and USTA Mid-Atlantic are prioritizing the safety of tennis players, providers, and facilities and are continually supplying resources, guidelines, and recommendations so that everyone can stay safe. So, I started my research by reviewing the USTA’s Play Tennis Safely Guidelines and USTA Mid-Atlantic’s Required and Recommended Play Guidelines. Then I visited the USTA Mid-Atlantic’s indoor tennis resources page. This page provided links to COVID-19 updates by state; links to play opportunities in the region; and links to articles, webinars, and podcasts on indoor tennis from around the tennis industry including Tennis Industry United (TIU). 

In addition to these links, the page provides information on the Mid-Atlantic Promise. The MAS Promise recognizes indoor tennis facilities that commit to high levels of safety protocols and can help players find a list of facilities that are adhering to these safety standards for both customers and employees.


After reviewing the information and links on this page, I researched the safety policies and procedures at my local facility, the JTCC in College Park, Md. What I learned from JTCC’s website and a TIU podcast found on the indoor play page, was that the JTCC has a comprehensive safety protocol plan. Their protocols include a better air filtration system, reduced capacity for the indoor courts, required face masks for all indoor spaces at all times (including while playing), hand sanitizing stations, plexiglass around the front desk, and a restroom limit of one person at a time. After finding this information and evaluating it for myself and my needs, I felt confident in the information and its ability to help me make my decision about playing indoors at my regular facility.


With my first concern resolved, my second concern was wearing a mask while playing tennis particularly since I have asthma. This time, I conducted online research and consulted a local tennis shop expert for information. After reviewing several articles, I opted to try Athleta’s Activate Face Mask. Additionally, after chatting with Darrell Haines at Tennis Topia in Rockville, Md., I added one more mask to try, the Zensah Sports Performance Ear Loop Face Mask.    


I opted to test my masks by wearing them on my regular three-mile walks and then by playing in casual doubles matches indoors. After testing all three masks, I prefer the Under Armour mask. The mask is fairly thick and is constructed with plenty of space around the mouth and nose, making it easier to breathe. Additionally,  the mask does a good job of wicking the moisture away from my face, a feature I require because I sweat a lot. As for the other masks, I’m thankful I tested them out first. Figuring out which features work for me was worth the effort.  


When it came to actually play with a mask on, it wasn’t as difficult as I feared. The most important tip I have for playing with a mask on is to make sure you drink water on the changeover. Drinking water gives you a moment to breathe and rehydrate. Also, if you're like me and sweat profusely, you have an opportunity to wipe your face. By following this routine, playing with a mask on was manageable. 


I’m glad I put the time into easing my fears about playing indoors. Playing indoors through the winter months will help me stay active while giving me an opportunity to get out of the house and socialize while following safety protocols and recommendations. Now, having registered for the upcoming mixed doubles league, I hope 2021 is a little closer to normal - even if it looks just a tad different.


USTA Mid-Atlantic is committed to helping you stay safe while getting out to play tennis. Don’t forget to check out our indoor tennis page including links to finding play opportunities in your area. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our Blog for the latest updates from around the Mid-Atlantic. 

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