The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has discouraged organising doubles competitions besides advising against resumption of training at its registered academies when activities resume after the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), a 14-page document circulated to the state associations on Thursday, the AITA outlined steps to be taken before and after training is permitted.
The national tennis federation said it “does not recommend coaching trainees at the AITA registered academies till the time the GOI (Government of India) and the respective state governments give a clear go ahead on resumption of coaching at Academies.”
The reason listed out is that it might be difficult to enforce the social distancing and COVID safety guidelines for coaching schemes and academies for children and younger players because of the need for dealing with a larger number of players/visitors at a time and for accommodating more than one player on every court.
The federation added that only singles competitions should be conducted. “Avoid playing doubles, which could lead to incidental contact and unwanted proximity. If you do play doubles, avoid all incidental contact, no chest bumps and no whispering to each other from a close distance to strategise.”
The AITA also asked players not to rush their way back into play prior to competition. “Given the layoff from competing, players will be more susceptible to under-training, over-use and other injuries,” it said.
“All personal training equipment belonging to the player must be disinfected by the athlete before inducted into the training centre.
“As most injuries occur early in the season, de-conditioned players shall not be rushed back to full practice, or competition. Activities may be increased upon resumption of training,” it explained further.
AITA has also advised on the use of balls. “Take one set of numbered balls, and have your playing partner take a set of balls from the other can. Make sure to pick up your set of numbered balls only.
“Should a ball with the other number wind up on your side of the court, do not touch the ball with your hands. Use your racquet head or feet to advance the ball to the other side of the court.”
The federation has asked all centres to identify and assign a COVID-19 taskforce, which will guide and monitor all players/ trainees and staff within the centres.
“This Task Force will overall supervise and implement protocols outlined in this SOP in tandem with Government of India (GoI) guidelines.”
The AITA also tasked the site in-charge to clean the venue/courts daily, regularly disinfect the high-touch surfaces apart from fixing separate on-court chairs by two metres (approx 6.6 feet) and separate all spectators by two metres where possible.
The SOP also advised against sharing personal equipment such as rackets, bottles, wristbands, towels etc.