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Middle States

USTA Middle States Programming: COVID-19 FAQ

UPDATED JANUARY 19, 2021
Additional programming updates and information can be found on our COVID-19 Updates page. Additional questions can be emailed to communications@ms.usta.com
 
 

USTA Middle States General Updates

 

Statement on enforcing mask and/or travel mandates in our states: 


It is important to remember that mandates, orders and other local rules are being put in place by states and municipalities across the country. For example, different mask and travel rules have been ordered by all four states in our section (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia).

 

It is the responsibility of USTA Middle States to comply with all state mandates in place. 

 

Federal and state orders supersede any organization or facility rules that may be in place, and USTA Middle States is required to comply with any state order or mandate of this type. Specific questions about the mandate can be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, or other respective state offices and local medical officials.

 

Statement on the current state of tennis in our Section, during the COVID-19 pandemic:


The current state mandates and rules have made the tennis experience quite different from what we’re used to in USTA Middle States. While this may not be ideal from a playing standpoint, it’s a reminder to all of us that we are navigating a global pandemic, and during this time, complying with state and local mandates is our only option to ensure our sport stays safe, and we are allowed to continue playing. 

 

If our participants adhere to these orders, it’s likely that we will continue playing tennis. If our participants do not adhere to these orders, we risk our facilities being shut down, and our programming becoming suspended. Our hope is that through tennis, we can provide at least a small dose of normalcy during an incredibly challenging time. Regardless of the current situation, we will not stop working to provide the best possible experience for our players and participants.

 

Working together this fall and winter:

 

For players and organizers, the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and challenging situation on the tennis court. We ask that all participants in USTA programming stay patient, give one another the benefit of the doubt, and respect one another’s space, opinions and situations. Together we feel we can all keep tennis programming going if we stick together and act as one community.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

 

Is there any research which identified the potential for COVID-19 to be transmitted on tennis balls?
  • A recent study determined that the surface of sports balls, notably football, golf, cricket, and tennis balls, are unlikely to harbor SARS-CoV-2 in a manner that is compatible with risk of developing COVID-19 from handling the ball during normal play. 

  • The International Tennis Federation (ITF) Sport Science and Medicine Commission, the USTA Sport Science Committee, and the USTA Medical Advisory Group support this conclusion. 
 
Is it safe to play tennis while wearing a mask/face-covering? 
  • USTA Middle States continues to work closely with the USTA National Office and the USTA Medical Advisory Committee to learn more about the safest, most responsible ways to play tennis during this global pandemic.
  • We are not aware of any data that shows wearing a cloth mask while exercising is harmful to anyone without underlying lung or heart disease.  We do recommend that a cloth mask, and not a more restrictive mask such as an N95, be used. Also, we recommend checking with your physician or family doctor to get their opinion as well. 
  • There have been many states with mask orders, and USTA Sections have successfully hosted tennis events in those areas, even with those mandates in place. Ultimately, it is each individual’s choice whether he or she is comfortable or feels safe playing with a mask.

 

What if I find out a club is not requiring masks/face coverings?
  • In the case that someone learns of an indoor tennis club/organization not requiring mask-wearing, please notify the USTA Middle States office at communications@ms.usta.com, or reach out to a staff contact who you are comfortable with at the USTA Middle States office.

  • Even if the club you are competing in does not require masks, you and all players should still abide by the state/local guidelines during USTA play/programming.

 

What if a club has a removable wall or a garage door that they open/remove in winter? Can this be considered outdoors, meaning no mask is required? 
  • USTA Middle States considers any “roofed” structure with at least three walls to be an indoor facility.

 

What defines "face covering?"
  • You can find the definition here.

 

What if a facility does not require masks/face coverings, and they feel we circumvented their authority/policies? 
  • The mask mandates have been ordered by the specific state offices, and it is the responsibility of USTA Middle States to ensure that the organization — and those participating in its programming — comply with that state mandate. Federal and state orders supersede any organization or facility rules that may be in place, and USTA Middle States is required to comply with any state order or mandate of this type.

 

What if club guidelines are stricter than state/local mandates?
  • In this case, if the club guidelines are stricter than state/local mandates, follow club guidelines.
 
In Pennsylvania: If my opponent is not wearing a mask/face covering due to a medical condition, do I need to wear one?
  • Yes. Unless you have a medical condition preventing you from wearing a mask while playing, you should follow the state order and always wear a mask while playing at an indoor facility. Please note that all states have different rules, and there may be no exceptions to the mask-wearing rule in your state.

 

In Pennsylvania: A player says he/she has a medical excuse and is not required to wear a mask/face covering. Can they play in an indoor USTA League match without a mask?
  • Yes, if a person says they have a medical condition —and assuming that state/municipality has medical exemptions in place — they have the right to compete in USTA programming.

In Pennsylvania: If a player knows he/she will not be wearing a mask during USTA play, should he/she notify the opposing team or player? And in the case that an opposing player is uncomfortable playing against an unmasked player, what happens?
  • If they so choose, players can feel free to notify opposing players or captains of their specific situations. However, they are not required to notify anyone ahead of time.
  • A player must assume that his/her opponent will be playing within the rules. While this means a mask will likely be worn by an opponent, there is a chance that the opponent has a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask, and that still means the player is within the rules. Each player who arrives to play that day must assume that they may be facing a player with or without a mask.
  • For players and organizers, the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and challenging situation on the tennis court. We ask that all participants in USTA programming stay patient, give one another the benefit of the doubt, and respect one another’s space, opinions and situations. Together we feel we can all keep tennis programming going if we stick together and act as one community.

In Delaware:
 Why are there no on-court exceptions to the mask rule in Delaware?
  • Each state has a different set of rules. Currently, our understanding is that there are no exceptions to the mask rule in Delaware. All players in Delaware who choose to play indoor tennis are expected to wear a mask while playing. 

 

What if players say the state says mask-wearing or travel restrictions are not enforceable, so we should go easy on the state order? 
  • The mask mandate has been ordered by the specific state offices, and it is the responsibility of USTA Middle States to ensure that the organization — and those participating in its programming — comply with that state mandate. Federal and state orders supersede any organization or facility rules that may be in place, and USTA Middle States is required to comply with any state order or mandate of this type.

  • Specific questions about mandates can be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the State of Delaware, the New Jersey Department of Health, and the West Virginia Department of Health.

If a club has signs mandating mask-wearing but not enforcing the rule, can we play without masks/face coverings?
  • No. While we realize we can not enforce this rule in every situation, the mandate is to play with masks and that is the requirement for all USTA programming. Unless the player has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, it is expected that all players do so.

 

In a USTA League match: What if one player (out of four on the court) refuses to wear a mask?
  • The player or team that refuses to wear a mask is defaulting the match, unless they say they are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition.

  • In Pennsylvania, individuals with certain medical conditions are exempt from wearing a mask on-court. All other players are expected to wear a mask at all times. Questions about what types of medical conditions apply to this exemption should be directed to the state. 

  • This medical mask exemption is not in place in many other states. For example, someone with a medical condition in Delaware is not exempt from the mask mandate. So if a player is unable to safely play with a mask on in Delaware, they should sit out for now, contact their coordinator for help rescheduling, or find an outdoor option.

  • If a player or tennis participant in a USTA program (in Pennsylvania, specifically) says they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, those around them must take their word for it.
    • individuals/organizers may not ask someone about their medical condition(s)
    • individuals/organizers may not ask someone to show proof of their medical condition(s)
    • individuals/organizers may not force someone to wear a mask 

 

What if a player isn’t wearing his/her mask properly? Or, what if the player takes his/her mask off frequently during the match?
  • It is the responsibility of the player to wear his/her mask properly and at all times. In the case that a player refuses, it is looked at as if they are not wearing a mask at all (non-compliant -- resulting in default).

 

What if one team can not field a team for a match because of COVID-19 or because of the mandates enforced by our local, state government?
  • If one team can not field a full roster for either of these reasons, then the teams may reschedule. Coordinators and/or captains are to notify the facilities that the match is being rescheduled. Coordinators will work with their captains to ensure the matches are rescheduled within the timeframe set forth by the local coordinator.

 

Can captains agree to reschedule on their own — if time permits — before end-of-season?
  • Yes. In this case, we ask that you connect with your ALC to inform them of your plans.

 

Who do I contact with additional questions, or for help with rescheduling/refunds?

 

*Note: These situations and statements can change at any time, and apply only to USTA programming in the USTA Middle States section.

 

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