Is This Safe Tennis?

Rick Barletta

We have had some great points made on both sides of the “to play or not to play” issue.  So, I would like to present what I did today for your opinions: is this safe or not safe?

I went to another community to play with friend and tennis pro Rick Barletta and …

  • I drove in my car by myself,
  • When faced with the keypad entry at their gate, I used a pencil to punch in the code,
  • We stayed at least six feet apart the whole time,
  • Each of us opened our own can of balls,
  • We played cross-court doubles and used only our own balls to serve with,
  • To get the balls onto the correct end of the court, we didn’t touch them, but bunted back with the racquet,
  • Therefore, we did not touch each other’s balls 🙂
  • We both wore a leather glove on our left/ball-tossing hand,
  • I brought a bottled drink with me and only touched it with my non-gloved hand
  • And, I wore 30+ sunscreen, wore a hat and a long-sleeved shirt,
  • And then I drove home by myself – and washed my hands as soon as I walked in the door.

So, what do YOU think… was that safe or not safe?

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

18 thoughts on “Is This Safe Tennis?

  1. That was certainly safe! Thanks for the ideas! Hope to have warmer weather in CT soon. My Dad is working on the court.

    Eric, the season’s they are a changin’! Please say Hello to your Dad. thanks, george

  2. George, I think what you did was great. Seems like you thought of everything.

    Michael, thanks! george

  3. You are probably safe at this time since Collier County has a low # of cases.
    You went through a lot to play our great game of tennis. If this virus ramps up in our County, then I would think twice about what you are doing. In addition,
    the governor in Florida is getting a lot of pressure to issue the stay at home order and I hope he does. It is just a matter of time and you won’t have the option to play in Florida.

    Ron, I fear you may be correct about the pending order; so i better get my safe play in while i can! thanks, george

  4. This will be a two part answer owing to its length…..

    There is a British singer songwriter named Joe Jackson who was popular in the 1970s and especially 1980s. He had a wonderful album called Night and Day and on that album was a song called “Cancer,” whose lyrics went as follows:

    Everything gives you cancer
    Everything gives you cancer
    There’s no cure, there’s no answer
    Everything gives you cancer

    Don’t touch that dial
    Don’t try to smile
    Just take this pill
    It’s in your file

    Don’t work hard
    Don’t play hard
    Don’t plan for the graveyard

    Everything gives you cancer
    Everything gives you cancer
    There’s no cure, there’s no answer
    Everything gives you cancer

    Don’t work by night
    Don’t sleep by day
    You’ll feel all right
    But you will pay

    Substitute the word “coronavirus” for “cancer” and you have a pretty good understanding of my evolved view on the situation we are all now in. Which is:

    As long as we are fulfilling our duties to others not to put their lives unnecessarily at risk, at least not without their knowledge and consent, and provided that what we do is not illegal (such as violating some executive order or other legal declaration forbidding us from doing this or that), the risk that we choose to subject ourselves to in living our lives is ultimately a question of priorities and what we value most in life, and how willing we may be to risk disease, other bad consequences, or even death, to get it. [See next post]….

    Marty, one word answer, “Yup.” george

  5. [See prior post]…. Some risk is inevitably worth it – would you stay in your house all alone to avoid coronavirus if you knew a tornado was headed straight for you, or would you run with everyone else toward a communal storm shelter where dozens of strangers might have to crowd together in close proximity? Some risk may not be worth it – would you head over to the neighbors for a big party on Friday night where dozens of strangers will be drinking, dancing and having a good time, including several people with heavy coughs?

    I think your tennis with Rick Barletta did reduce a lot of the risk, but it by no means eliminated it. What did you do with your gloves afterward? Did you wrap them in zip lock bags and dispose of them in the garbage, or did you put them into your bags or on the seat of your cars where possible microscopic viruses on them might still live on for days. Ditto the balls. Did they go back into the cans to be tossed or did they also go back into your bags? What if the balls did get tossed? How can you, or anyone, be absolutely certain somebody might not come along, spy the almost new balls in the can in a garbage can, and appropriate them for themselves, either to play tennis with themselves (but without gloves) or to take home to their dogs – so the dogs can carry the (possibly) infected balls all over the house, etc.

    I am not saying don’t go play tennis. Just be aware that you can never make any of this 100% risk free. There is ALWAYS some level of risk no matter what we do, not only to ourselves but to others as well. Joe Jackson was right.

    Marty, from what i have read, the virus doesn’t last longer than 24 hours on most surfaces and high heat weakens it further; so i leave the glove on top of my bag in the hot trunk of my car till the next day. Doing the best i can. thanks, george

  6. Probably safe, but probably illegal where I live according to current county ordinance. Stanford University has now closed their tennis courts, following the city of Palo Alto’s example. We now have nowhere to play anyway. I’m thinking about getting a home practice device for tennis if this goes on more than a few weeks. Any recommendations, please? Stay safe and be well.

    Joe, have they also outlawed a couple walking or jogging together? One reader suggested Billie Jean King’s “Tennis eye” as an in home device. george

  7. Hey, you had an excellent morning!!!…and did all of the correct things! I like that you didn’t play with each other’s balls. Admirable! Sounds like a good plan, until it won’t be. Stay well!

    Caroline, we are tryin’! thanks, george

  8. Doug Welsh and I played yesterday and we were pretty careful as well….and we had a GREAT time playing tennis!…and thanks to my friend, George Dalphon, who just recommended a LIVE guided meditation session w/dan harris and Tara Brach….thx!

    Scoot, relax the mind and the body will follow! george

  9. You did very well. Consider disposable or washable gloves.
    My concern is contracting the virus being asymptomatic, but contagious. Then infecting others because I played a game.
    Ron Smith

    Ron, i searched for disposable gloves, but they aren’t available. Maybe i will wash. thanks, george

  10. My 3 year old grand daughter is smart enough to keep asking a question many different ways, hoping to eventually hear the answer she wants. It appears you have the answer you wanted. But that doesn’t mean you are at zero risk. Where did you put the bottom pushing pencil? How did your hitting partner spend the last 6 days? Should the spring breakers have to same right to judge their own risk (and thereby risks to others) simply because it is an activity that they “need”? Only you can answer your own question for yourself.

    George, I hear you. The pencil stayed in the door well of the car door. Rick is a high risk guy being a tennis teacher; but i stayed six feet from him. Yes, i am trying to answer the question. Thanks and YOU stay well. george

  11. So George, Is Rick’s solution the required scenario for tennis at the Strand tomorrow? If so, shouldn’t Matt post this requirement? So we are all prepared to bring our own balls… and glove.

    Walt, to do that for doubles, you would need to open FOUR cans — and keep them all separate. A real challenge. thanks, george

  12. George, while you are correct that NIH has speculated that novel coronavirus does not last all that long on certain surfaces, especially in heat, there is at least one study that has been recently published that I am aware of concluding that it may last as long as 9 days on moist and relatively cool surfaces. See

    I assume your gloves do get wet from perspiration, so I am not sure you can say with certainty any virus on your glove would be gone in less than 24 hours. Therefore, it might boil down to the heat of your trunk as to how long any virus would really last, if it is present on your glove at all, which isn’t certain.

    I am not trying to put a damper on your tennis play. I am just mentioning what I know so everyone will still be aware of the potential risks.

    In fact, I envy you because, here in Pennsylvania, the Governor has issued for my county a “stay at home” order that does allow people to engage in “outdoor activities,” but it generally prohibits “gatherings of people” — which most are interpreting to include tennis, even if we players DO implement “safe tennis” protocols like you have done. This is a shame because today it is about 70 degrees outside and sunny and mild here!!

    So, right now, my outdoor exercise has been limited to walking the dog, hiking, jogging, and riding my bicycle. BUT, there is a newly installed tennis wall nearby that I just found out about. So, I may find myself over there shortly. 🙂

    Marty, thanks for the advice on the gloves. I probably will take Dr. Smith’s advice and wash it afterwards. I have a wall near me and that is where i too will be if/when they shut down our courts! thanks, george

  13. I’ll add my 2 cents as I have a bit of a vested interest in this conversation… your steps solved for the problem of not giving/getting the virus to Rick. However that’s the wrong problem to try and solve for…

    The virus (and all like it) are all over your environment. The fence, gate, bench, table, net, net post, etc have the virus on it from the people who played before you (or who walked by). It got onto your skin, shorts, shoes, legs, arms, face and was then very, very happy. It stayed there, regardless of your leather glove.

    You then transferred it to your car.
    Then to the garage floor when sweat dripped down.
    Then to the laundry room, washer and dryer where you dumped your cloths.
    Then to the kitchen where you got a drink of water.
    Then to the master bedroom.
    And finally you killed was was left on you by taking a shower / jumping in the pool.

    But is mom home? Any visits planned for family in the next few hours? Anybody recently been through surgery that you might visit?

    The CDC recommends not touching your face and washing your hands with soap after going out in public so you don’t transfer it to your house and then on to others.

    As someone said above, you need to live your life based on the risks you are willing to take for yourself. You need to also weigh the risks to may be placing others in. You are healthy and I don’t have a huge concern for you getting it… but all of Naples is in this virus’ target audience. So you need to think of the problem to solve of not moving it around.

    And yes I am doing just as I am suggesting. Erin, Tyler and I have only been out a few times since Friday. Each time we interact with a public place we will washing hands and/or use sanitizer. Not afraid for us getting sick but so we don’t give it to someone who can’t handle it.

    A few weeks of alone time is better than the alternative.


    Well, my son, i am truly touched by your concern and thoughtful comments. Please know, my biggest concern is, in fact, bringing the bug back into the house; so i am EXTREMELY careful not to touch anything outside without taking precautions… i don’t even bring in the mail without gloves on + let it sit for 24 hours before we look at it. We ordered Chinese food delivery on Sunday and i wiped down every carton with an anti-bacterial wipe. Being on the court with that same sense of awareness and touching caution (i dont touch anything on the court without the glove) + i went to Target today to buy a new golf glove, which i will disinfect after each use. Going to Publix is now my biggest fear. So, let us hope that living life cautiously allows us to continue living life. Love. Me.

  14. I think its strange that I am in the Southern Philippines which has to be the least sanitized nation as any other in the world and obviously extremely poor and there are literally no cases except up in Manila, quite a ways away. Why would that be?
    On another note, I had an experience with my sister in Putnam County , New York, who has basically not given me the time of day in 50 plus years because I was a horrible brother I’m ashamed to say. But all these years of barriers completely dissipated when I received this email and although this is not on the topic of tennis balls, I think this is something that is happening all over where people are connecting on the phone or internet in ways they didn’t do before. Its almost waking everyone up to appreciate all their friendships on a higher level.

    Dave, maybe no one in your jungle town has it is because no one has traveled into your area? Yes, crisis does change behaviors. Glad your sister has reached out to you. Stay well. george

  15. George: For those readers looking for a wall to hit against, try the back of a supermarket. Most supermarkets have a loading dock in the back and usually there is a side of the building open – makes a great wall to hit against!

    Sean, and someone also suggested the shut down schools. thanks, george

Comments are closed.