Covid Concerns?

Can the tennis ball carry Covid?

We are now almost a full year into this health crisis and the “experts” have regularly changed their opinions on what is safe and what is not.  What is the current state of playing tennis and the virus?

Tennis Ball Transmission?

Thanks to Dr. Noble Hendrix for sharing a public health notice that says:

“We found that the surface of sport balls, notably a football, tennis ball, golf ball, and cricket ball could not harbour inactivated virus when it was swabbed onto the surface, even for 30 ​s. However, when high concentrations of 5000 ​dC/mL and 10,000 ​dC/mL are directly pipetted onto the balls, it could be detected after for short time periods. Sports objects can only harbour inactivated SARS-CoV-2 under specific, directly transferred conditions… This has helpful implications to sporting events.”

Tennis Club Policies?

Our Pelican Bay tennis facilities have staggered court start times to minimize people congregating; but have let the people play (outside guests included) under “normal” conditions.  And to my knowledge, there have been no negative Covid complications resulting from “consenting adults” playing our game in the safe outdoors.

One noticeable change has been in the socialization during and after a match.  Most players still try to keep an acceptable distance on changeovers; and are more sensitive to group gatherings after matches.  For me, going out to lunch after a match is acceptable, if the restaurant has outdoor seating.

Tennis Tournaments Status?

As of this writing, there has been no change to the Florida 2021 tournament plans … with NO tournaments scheduled for the Naples area in January and three still on the calendar for February in Sarasota and St. Pete.

What are your policies and the rules in place for those playing indoors?

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 “Covid Concerns?

  1. New York still playing indoors and using all courts. Junior and adult tournaments are still being held in western NY. Planning to play the three in February

    tom, let’s hope your NY tournaments provide a successful model! thanks, george

  2. The city parks indoor courts in Pittsburgh take your temperature before coming onto the court and masks while playing are mandatory currently. The private indoor club that I play at is masks are optional and only members can play no guests!

    Jim, i have heard of mandatory masks WHILE PLAYING! good luck on good breathing. george

  3. As much as I’m not happy doing it, with the availability of vaccines on the horizon, I think being more cautious in certain situations, like dining outside down here for the next few months, might have it’s rewards down the road, hopefully sooner than later!

    Steve, i will meet you under the umbrella! thanks, george

  4. George, I’ve been told that Yonex makes a breathable tennis mask. Available at Tennis Express

    Michael, thanks! george

  5. Part of the problem as I see it ,comes from inconsistencies from people in powerful positions making health care decisions, without the proper background to do so. With that being said they are spreading fear not solutions. I’ve seen people wearing masks all by themselves outside walking, riding in a car by themselves .
    If the virus is that bad we all are doomed.

    OhioJack, i agree! george

  6. Massachusetts health clubs are now required to force everyone to wear a mask at all times. So, tennis players must wear a mask while playing. It’s tough, but better than not playing at all.

    Bob, as you say that, i just learned they have shut down all indoor tennis in MN. So, mask up. george

  7. George, Although I am a little surprised, the ITF Junior Orange Bowl Tournament is still taking place. I am one of the athletic trainers covering the event. Although we have many restrictions including: 1) Negative COVID test; 2) Masks at all times except when playing; 3) when treating injuries, athletic trainer and athlete must wear mask & googles; 4) court benches & towel racks are sprayed after each match; 5) Questionnaire and temperature checks every day before access to facility; and 6) Only 1 coach and 1 parent allowed on site with player. These protocols were in place and then increased after US Open (no Junior event there). So far, things are good.

    Larry, let’s hope you have a “positive experience” and it provides a role model for other events. thanks, george

  8. Yonex mask you can comfortably breath thru? And trap significant levels of a virus? Un-damn-likely.

    Mike, i had the same thought. thanks, george

  9. George ,

    Here in Ohio we are playing indoors without on court restrictions . Arrive 5 minutes before court time and leave immediately after , no furniture in the lobby to discourage hanging out after play , masks worn at all times when not playing . Changing sides is discouraged as it is not that important playing indoors , everyone flips their own score cards . We are required to close at 10 PM and the club must be vacated immediately at that time .

    About 10% of our membership has ” frozen ” their membership as they are concerned about playing indoors . Having said that court utilization is at an all time high indicating that most people feel very safe playing indoor tennis .

    Steve, Fantastic for you! I am glad you survived the summer. PS good thing you close at 10 pm because the virus sleeps until then; and then ravages anyone walking around (not!). george

  10. ive been playing on clay indoors in a bubble over 4 courts. mostly in afternoon, usually 1 or more courts are empty. no congregating before or after. we meet in bubble, play, then leave. minimum contact. wear mask going on to court and off.
    when it first got cold i started to play at indoor hard court. they had kids clinic and lots of people, the courts were full. so i stopped doing that.
    i also play at my friends private indoor clay court. very lucky.

    Joe, that last option seems like the very best!! see you in January. george

  11. I followed the Cat. II at Kiawah Island online and via text with a friend who now lives up there. Haven’t heard of any negative fallout from it. . .

    Kevin…. GREAT! thanks, george

  12. Here in Houston we have minimal indoor facilities and, if anything, our outdoor facilities are now busier than they would have been without the virus as people have realized that this is one of the few sports they can play safely. I have been struggling with some injuries the last couple of months but, prior to that, I was probably playing 4-5 times/week. About the only change you see in people’s habits on court is the racquet bump at the end of the match rather than a hand shake and no high fives for good shots.

    David, “almost normal”… great. thanks, george

  13. We’re about to go into “stay at home order” mode again in Northern CA. If it’s the same as last time, singles will be permitted but not doubles except with same household members. Since all our tennis is outdoors, it seems like overkill to me. However, better safe than sorry, especially with promising vaccines on the horizon. P.S. It looks like you’re not keeping your eye on the virus in the photo above, George. Hope to see you again next October at Newk’s!

    Joe, be well and play well… and i will see you in October! george

  14. George, since all our tennis play here in southern Arizona is exclusively outdoors on hard courts, we must follow specific COVID guidelines in accordance with our Home Owners Association. Our men’s and women’s reserved match play times are staggered on different days to avoid over-crowding and socializing. The set guidelines for our club are: (1) We must wear face masks before entering and leaving the courts. (2) Everyone must use social distancing when around others. (3) All players are required to submit their names prior to playing their matches for accountability on a scheduled day to play and must let the tennis committee know if they plan to travel. (4) Hand sanitizers are encouraged for use on court and afterwards.
    (5) Match recognition and congratulations are to be given by racquet bumps. (6) all used ball cans, trash, personal belongings are to be taken by players upon leaving the courts.
    (7) Lessons are given on a private and semi-private format. At this time, no tournament play has been authorized. Hopefully, TBA for a later date at the beginning of 2021. Our club is doing an excellent job adhering to all rules and guidelines. So far, no member has been infected by the COVID-19 virus. Thank goodness for a vaccine soon! Everyone be safe and be well.

    Glenn, a lot of rules but don’t seem to be overly demanding. Thanks. George

  15. It is interesting to see how things vary around the country. That’s a pretty good indication that there really is no science behind the rules, just clubs doing their best to interpret government guidelines. Here in NJ most of the junior programs have been stopped, even though kids under 18 are unlikely to be spreaders. (All indoor high school sports have been suspended until at least January.) Adult programs continue, including lessons, drills, and contract time. Players arrive five minutes before their start time, have their temperature taken, and go straight to their court, all while wearing a mask. No masks required while playing. Compare that to a friend’s club in Chicago where they allow only singles, and players must wear masks while playing. That seems like overkill, but I think it is a club rule, not a government mandate.

    I believe there should be a tournament for those of us who have had COVID. A friend suggested it be called The Antibody Invitational. Given the low number of positive cases in Naples, I think that is a tournament I could win.

    Enduring high winds, heavy rain, and temp’s in the 40’s today, I am longing for our return to Naples in January. I look forward to seeing many of your readers then.

    Jim, your tournament idea reminds me of Seinfeld’s “Festivus: a holiday for the restofus”. Thanks. George

  16. Great virus pattern on your raquet, George, and we’re lucky to live here in Naples…outdoor tennis (w/NO masks while playing!) all the time. Stay safe, everyone, and there has been a Fred Drilling sighting back on the courts!!!

    Scoot, and I understand that his forehand is as potent as ever! Thanks. George

  17. I will take my chances touching a potentially virus infected tennis ball. My drive to the courts will be considerably more dangerous. Masks worn for tennis (or anywhere)…

    For those who wear a mask because it’s required in order to maintain an acceptable level of life — I suppose this is what residents of communist countries tell themselves as they submit to every new rule imposed upon them.

    And this from an ICU RN: We have zero Covid-19 patients in our unit. What we do have is a big increase in patients with antibiotic resistant pulmonary staph infections. People wear filthy masks and the bacteria living in our noses and mouths get stuck in a warm moist “stew” in masks.

    Alan, well, that is a disturbing report from the RN! thanks, george

  18. Kudos to tournament director, Desirae McLaughlin, and the entire staff at the USTA National Campus in Orlando! They recently completed the over 65 USTA league Sectional Championships for multiple NTRP levels. Hundreds of players took part in this well run, Covid aware, event. In order to gain entry to the campus, players submitted a daily Covid questionnaire for examination and passed a temperature check. Masks were required to be worn at all times when not playing. Court assignments were posted on a large television screen and transmitted electronically to captains. Lineups were submitted electronically and the captains received a text five minutes before match time with the opposing team’s lineup. Cans of tennis balls were opened by USTA officials and provided to us. USTA personnel cleaned and sanitized benches, etc. following matches. If an event of this size can be so well run, it should clearly be possible to effectively run smaller tournaments…

    Harry, very encouraging! thanks for sharing. george

Comments are closed.