Shenandoah Valley Success with Indoor/Outdoor Season
Tennis, as we all know, is one of the few activities that allow participants to play and be active all while keeping a safe social distance. When USTA League play resumed in the Mid-Atlantic in June, league areas and teams around the region took advantage of the summer weather and played tennis outside. However, a few league areas opted to include indoor play as well. Unlike outdoor tennis, indoor tennis included a few more considerations to ensure that everyone could play and have fun while remaining safe on the court.
In the Mid-Atlantic Section, several league areas are running similarly right now, and as the seasons change, we know more players will be heading indoors for tennis and you likely want to understand how health and safety is prioritized.
USTA Mid-Atlantic caught up with Local League Ambassador(LLA) Carisa Dueweke to find out how she successfully ran her league with both indoor and outdoor play. Carisa’s story peels back the curtain to illuminate a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes to ensure everyone can get out and play tennis indoors and outdoors.
Tell me a bit about yourself. My name is Carisa Dueweke and I currently live in Cross Junction, VA. I’m originally from Golden, Colorado and I’ve been playing tennis for 16 years.
What's the name of your league area? Shenandoah Valley - which includes Loudoun, Fauquier, Clarke, Warren, and Frederick Counties in Virginia.
How long have you been an LLA? Since 2010
What USTA Leagues and levels do you run? Adult (18&Over, 40&Over, 55&Over), Mixed (18&over, 40&Over), Tri-Level, Singles, Combo, Combo Mixed
Is this indoor or outdoor play? Both
Pre-COVID, how many players participated? In a typical year, we have well over 700 unique participants.
What factors did you consider when re-starting league play, particularly for going indoors? I looked at several factors including:
The league format and the number of players that could play at one time
The length of the season and league timing
Availability of outdoor court options if indoor courts were primarily used
The facility safety requirements in comparison to the state/local mandates
The potential for championship advancement
Which leagues would capture the greatest number of participants as well as the format of league play (singles/doubles/mixed etc)
Court availability, player availability, and outdoor weather.
What, if any, input or feedback did you receive from the captains & players in your league area while determining how to resume league play? Players were ready to get back on the court! There were three cases where players didn’t want to play inside if they traveled to another facility and requested to play outside when visiting away teams. In all three cases, players were accommodated by the home team captain.
What safety protocols did you implement? Most of the safety protocols were set by the facilities and I passed along the information to players. All safety guidelines were in line with state/local authorities, the CDC, USTA, and USTA Mid-Atlantic Section guidelines.
Here’s what was in place:
ONE person in the restroom at a time
Masks required when indoors
Social Distance on courts
Write scores down on personal paper
If on-court scorecards are used…only ONE person change scores
NO water provided on court
NO towels provided
Spectators were not allowed at two facilities while one facility blocked off the bleachers. The remaining facilities required that people in the viewing areas maintain appropriate distance and numbers per state mandate
Staggered match start times to control the number of players on the court
If a player is uncomfortable using one can of balls, they can use a second can for their side of the court
How did you communicate the safety protocols? I created a document that listed each facility’s specific protocols and expectations. This document was distributed to all captains for them to share with their players.
What have been the results? How did league play go? There were 580 unique participants that returned to play. Everyone was ready to play and willing to abide by all the protocols so things ran very smoothly!
What type of feedback did you receive? A lot of THANK YOUs! And a lot of smiles!
What did you learn? My pre-planning started in April with conversations with facilities and the USTA Mid-Atlantic section office. I wanted to be prepared for when the stay at home restrictions were lifted and league play began with the new safety guidelines in place. What I learned was…. It PAID off to be prepared and think ahead. I was reminded of how important constant communication is for the success of our league play.
Will you share any words of wisdom or encouraging words for players on the indoor play? Be respectful of other player’s personal boundaries, adhere to social distancing, communicate your needs, know the guidelines and expectations for your facility, and USTA Mid-Atlantic…. and most of all have FUN!!
USTA Mid-Atlantic is committed to helping you stay safe while getting out to play tennis. Check out our resources for indoor play including information on the NEW “MAS Promise” that recognizes indoor tennis facilities committed to high levels of safety protocols. You can also find links to helpful resources, and tips, from USTA.