“Everyone was so happy! We’ve all been waiting for so long and to finally be able to play tennis again really felt like a homecoming.”
These were the sentiments that echoed across the courts at CF Tennis Academy on Friday when players returned for the first time in more than two months.
Pictures captured the enjoyment as players aged between 12-60 had a much needed hit, after unexpectedly being cut off from sport for so long.
But while they were forced to shut their doors due to COVID-19, CF Tennis Academy staff members were busy working out ways they could open speedily when given the green light.Given rules around social distancing have become the new normal, CF Tennis Academy head of marketing Gabbie Marriott said it was relatively easy to just adjust its sport to comply.
“Safety is our number one priority and although we have been off court we have been busy planning back to tennis guidelines and risk assessments which our coaches are ready to implement so everyone can be back on court in a safe environment. It’s not been difficult to include all the government protocols and guidelines to this,” she said.
“The UAE Tennis Federation and Dubai Sports Council did a fantastic job informing us on all the new guidelines for sports academies to follow so we can all continue sports in a safe way. We will be running all our usual programs besides the under 12s with adjustments to adhere to all the guidelines.”
Academy coaches and staff members have their temperature checked prior to each session, and have been provided with masks and gloves. Hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray for racquets is also readily available and all equipment is disinfected daily.
To minimise contact athletes need to bring full drink bottles to avoid using the water dispenser and players must either stay on one end of the court or swap ends in a clockwise rotation to maintain social distancing. Aside from using the bathroom the clubhouse is off limits and players must return home straight after their session.
Like most other academies, CF has been running online sessions during forced closures. While this has been key in keeping members morale high, Marriott said it had also been important to look after staff members.
“We have tried our best to keep connected to our players by running Zoom classes and keeping everyone informed and motivated through our social media. We have shared at home tennis videos and also uplifting content,” she said.
“Another challenge has been keeping moral and motivation high within our team which is in excess of 50 coaches. We’ve had regular zoom catch ups to keep everyone informed, all our coaches have missed being on court so much.”
Even if some things may be restricted, the ability to take to the court again provides a sense of normality many were craving. But with all the excitement surrounding its reopening Marriott said the academy was still grateful for its members’ understanding during the tough times.
“(I’d like to thank) our players and parents for their support and patience during this time, it’s been really appreciated. The kindness shown to our coaches from our players has been inspiring and really emphasises how the UAE tennis and sports community is a family, it’s been about more than just tennis and we have got through this together,” she said.
“We have some key morals at CF Tennis Academy – they are love, quality, belief and fun, we’re very proud that our team and players have lived up to these over the last few months.”