5 Star Tennis Serves an Ace with New Tennis Courts
To say COVID-19 has uprooted the tennis community would be one of the biggest understatements of the year. As facilities owners, teaching pros and players alike have adapted to the “new normal”, the larger question still remains: how does our sport recover from this devastating blow?
For Robin Henders, President and Director of Tennis Operations, and Dan Brown, Vice President and Director of Operations, of Five Star Tennis in Plainfield, Ill., the answer came at just the right moment. After months of rehashing what seemed like endless plans of operation, Brown made a call that would change the fate of the club. Why not just build their own outdoor courts to kickstart the club and tennis in their community?
So, that is exactly what they did. Henders and Brown realized that they had the perfect parking lot for two temporary courts meant for instruction and a third, permanent court that could be used in addition to the 11 indoor courts. The way both men saw it, creating these courts was the only way to put the ball back in their court, so to speak.
Work began right away with the plan of officially opening the temporary courts for play and instruction at the beginning of June.
“This gives us the opportunity, as long as there is daylight, to use those courts from dusk until dawn,” said Henders.
Henders could not believe how fast the idea of incorporating the new courts gave him and the rest of their staff a new sense of hope.
“It kind of breathed a life of energy back into our giant, empty building again because now we finally had something fun and a solvable problem,” said Henders. “Now we have courts, and we can figure out how to get people out onto those courts, whereas with no courts there is no way to solve the problem.”
Solving that problem was what Henders and Brown set out to do in bringing players back to the sport and reinstate the many teaching pros into their old positions. As Henders puts it, tennis is already at such an advantage over other sports with its inherently socially distant nature.
“I think we are going to be the best positioned sport coming out of this, it’s just we have to tell people,” said Henders. “If we don’t tell people, then we are not going to; but, if we get the word out to the general public that says hey, you’re not allowed to do a lot right now, but our sport is super safe in comparison to any other sport out there as far as exercise.”
When the courts have been completed and ready for play, Henders assures that Five Star Tennis will be taking the necessary steps to keep everyone safe. Such precautions include only allowing the pros to touch the balls when picking up, assigning carts to pros that only they use, designating a specific spot on the court for just the player and their belongings and maintaining a safe distance when teaching group lessons.
It is Henders’s hope that the courts will give members of the community the confidence and reassurance they need to come back to tennis. By following all of the safety guidelines set forth with the new courts, Henders and Brown are eager to welcome back the large population who have been itching to play.
While times are still uncertain, the staff of Five Star Tennis is leading the charge in bringing players safely back to the sport they love and allowing them to see just how safe tennis can be. It can only happen, though, with the support of the entire community.
“When you play tennis, it is mostly a problem-solving game, and you’re trying to figure out how to navigate all of the variables…the clubs that are going to come out of this successfully are treating this like a tennis match,” said Henders. “We have these variables being thrown at us, day after day, and it’s our job to navigate and make decisions that you think are best for your business.
“But, if you don’t make those decisions and you aren’t confident about it, then you’re not going to come out of this very healthy.”
With the idea that tennis will be one of the few sports that will allow players to exercise their minds and bodies in a time where they desperately need it, Henders is proud to lead the return to the court.
“We need to start talking about how our sport is awesome and with a few tweaks, it’s even better.”
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