Advantage tennis in pandemic

By Michael Roberts | posted on May 16, 2020

LOWER Great Southern Tennis Association (LGSTA) President Les Bairstow is confident COVID-19 won’t hurt plans to build a regional tennis centre in Albany, with the organisation ‘fortunate’ to dodge serious financial losses.

While contact sports figure out how to get winter competitions underway, local tennis is back up and running.

Tennis clubs and centres around WA were closed at the end of March on the back of Tennis West recommendations.

But the state tennis body is now giving the green light for the game to get back on the court following the easing of social distancing measures in WA.

It has meant tennis clubs have been out of action for just over a month, which Mr Bairstow said put the association in a good spot to weather any financial losses from the pandemic.

“We actually got through most of the season with the exception of a few major events we run to finish things off,” he said.

“We are a bit lucky compared to football and soccer.”

Mr Bairstow hoped the COVID-19 crisis would only momentarily delay approval to build a regional tennis centre in Albany, which is in the middle of a feasibility study.

“The next two to three months will be dead but we’ve got a lot of things in place ready to get things moving again,” he said.

“But we are a fair way down the track with that feasibility study and the City of Albany are right behind it too.”

For the short term, Mr Bairstow said getting tennis up and running again was more important for local coaches who have suffered financially.

Vincent Brochard, who runs coaching sessions for juniors at Lawley Park Tennis Club, said he had no income for seven weeks.

“It has affected me a lot,” he said.

Mr Brochard didn’t wait for any official advice from Tennis West, instead opting to close his business before serious restrictions started.

“It was a good call because they asked us to stop at the end of the week,” he said.

With training sessions back under way, Mr Brochard said he would try to organise a local junior competition as soon as possible.

“A lot of people were really excited to come back on the court,” he said.

“Hopefully the weather holds on a little bit longer, but the rain doesn’t scare me.”

Social tennis is also back in action, but not as we know it.

Socialising before or after play at tennis clubs isn’t being allowed and clubhouses remain closed under Tennis West recommendations.

But President of the Tennis Section of Emu Point Sporting Club Colin Veale said just being able to play was still extremely important for members’ physical and mental wellbeing.

“We have an older demographic; it’s an outlet for them,” he said.

“For some of them it’s one of their major activities in any given week.”