JCC Safely Returns Heart of America Tennis
In mid-March tennis came to a screeching halt, alongside the rest of the country. As the world learned more about COVID-19 and it’s tendencies, USTA Heart of America Vice President of Junior Competition Anthony Perkins, USTA Heart of America Junior Competition Coordinator Stacie Turtledove and the USTA Heart of America Junior Competition Committee (JCC) worked diligently to bring back the sport as quickly as possible while remaining as safe as possible.
“It was just different for every place,”Turtledove said. “The USTA Heart of America is difficult because you fall into the state of Kansas and the state of Missouri. We wanted to come up with guidelines that were consistent, so that it didn’t matter if you were playing in Lawrence or Liberty; in Harmon Park or at the Plaza.”
Due to the peculiar circumstance of covering two states, including a major metropolitan area, the USTA Heart of America was deliberate in providing a safe tennis environment. The protocols that were adopted included taking the temperature of every individual that attended tournaments, limiting players to one spectator apiece, and mandating masks when social distancing was not possible.
In the month of June, players could only participate in tournaments within their own district. In July tournaments were opened to players within the USTA Missouri Valley, which posed different challenges.
“It was a learning curve,” Turtledove said. “It has gotten easier, but still remains challenging. As much as USTA Heart of America players knew our rules, all of the sudden in July you could have someone coming from Oklahoma or Iowa and they may not be familiar with our guidelines.”
Additionally, the JCC wanted to be sure to give players time to rejuvenate their physical fitness when they returned from an extended break. To do this, they waited a month after the last club in the district reopened to restart tournament play. Tournaments returned to the USTA Heart of America on June 19, and for the rest of the month, backdraws were played with short sets.
“What we didn’t want was for everybody to come back to tournaments really quickly, and for everyone to get injured really quickly because they weren’t physically in that kind of condition,” Turtledove said.
Despite the challenges that it faced, the USTA Heart of America was able to return to competition because of the dedication of the Junior Competition Committee and personnel around the district.
“Our tournament directors have done an amazing job of buying into this and implementing it,” Turtledove said. “Our officials have helped back up the tournament directors and USTA Heart of America as a whole by assisting in the process of putting these protocols into place.”