Break Point

Lockdown tennis gets served up

By Cecily Hastings
July 2020

When gyms, playgrounds, pools and parks are closed and everyone told to stay home, exercise opportunities are foreclosed to all but the resourceful.

One activity I managed to continue during lockdowns was tennis. In the first month of shelter-in-place, courts in public parks closed one by one. Many older players dropped out. Our tennis club was the last to bar play, but thankfully, they let family members still share the courts. My adult son had to be convinced to play tennis with his mother.

After every public court was shuttered, a friend discovered a pair of unlocked tennis courts in an Arden apartment complex where she once lived. The condition of the courts was bad—cracked, faded, with only ghostly white lines. We repaired the nets with shoelaces. But no one complained. We took a vow of silence not to disclose the location of our secret court.

We developed our own safety protocols. This included social distancing on the sidelines and using our own personal ball rather than the usual sharing.

When public courts re-opened, new rules were posted. The Mission Oaks Park District prohibited doubles play. I see the same people playing doubles nearly every day and I’m confident the coronavirus death toll isn’t attributable to excessive doubles.
That same park district also removed the benches. The new conditions presented a real inconvenience, especially to older players.

I guess we should consider ourselves lucky in Sacramento. Tennis is inherently adaptable to social-distancing protocols, but courts in some cities—Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and elsewhere—were still not open by early June. Such draconian measures go far beyond the reasonable guidelines created months ago by the U.S. Tennis Association.

Behind these and other COVID-19 edicts is the notion that people aren’t smart enough to use good judgment. Physical activities, including tennis, are good for the body and mind. Those of us who love being active need our workouts now more than ever.

Cecily Hastings can be reached at


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