You can eat bananas and drink sports drinks to prevent cramping. You can take pain killers for an injury. If you are Serena, you can even order an espresso to be brought on the court to perk you up in the morning. But if you have a lung condition, it appears you canNOT have oxygen available on the change overs.
Winder Bill’s Story
Top-level national 65s player Winder Bill, has a degenerative (and terminal) lung disease (Interstitial Lung Disease), which robs him of oxygen on the court. He and his partner Will Rogers were up in the semis a set and a break (6-4, 2-1) against the team that ended up winning the gold ball at the 65 indoors in Minneapolis recently when he lost focus, footwork, and eyesight clarity. They then lost 11 straight games.
He asked my opinion of whether he could have supplemental oxygen on the court in future tournaments; and I thought for all the reasons in the opening paragraph, he could… but suggested he contact the next tournament director.
When he posed the question, the reply was this ruling from Friend at Court:
FAC Comment III.E-2: A player who receives an injection (other than an insulin injection), IV infusion, or supplemental oxygen during a rest period shall be defaulted. However, there is no penalty for these actions during a suspension of play in which the Referee allows the players to leave the tournament area.
Winder’s comment is: “I do get that allowing me to use oxygen at changeovers could open Pandora’s box – if I can, then others can and then people not using oxygen may feel they are at a disadvantage and all of a sudden you have 60 players rolling out 60 oxygen tanks. Even requiring a physician’s certification of need could be fiddled and what TD wants to be making medical judgments? Oh well, I have had 20 years of national tournament tennis. I will still follow it with enthusiasm. It is a great game!”
Not fair??? Winder has sent an appeal to the USTA; so let’s hope he gets relief … and his oxygen.
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