Cautious Steps As San Diegans Return to Tennis

Tennis players across Southern California remain eager to return to everyday life, hoping for a sense of normalcy as summer months arrive. In San Diego, as recreational outlets like gyms and community pools begin to open in earnest this week, popular tennis facilities are working hard to establish new health and safety regulations to meet social distance framework and recommendations.

“The vast majority of tennis clubs, parks and facilities are now open for business on a limited scale as suggested by USTA and San Diego City and County guidelines,” according to Karen Ronney, the Tennis Service Representative for USTA Southern California in San Diego. “Programming is growing step by step and social distancing protocols are being followed.”

In addition to private and public clubs, there are more than 150 city tennis courts throughout San Diego proper, reflecting the immense popularity of tennis in the region. As outdoor sports begin to resume, strong measures must be taken to keep all of these courts safe for players, and open for business.

“We have stations and signs everywhere,” notes Duncan Depew of Peninsula Racquet Club in Ocean Beach, where a significant amount of preparation was completed ahead of reopening. The club installed plastic shields and have limited to guests to one entrance upon arrival. “We remind people they have to wear a facemask coming in and out. We have people signing the waivers (in person and online). The city did not tell us to use a waiver but we use one as a precaution.”

At Lake Murray Tennis Club near La Mesa, about 60% of members have returned to the courts in recent weeks.

“Those at-risk are not yet back and we respect their decisions,” said Kathy Emmerson, the club’s manager. “Everyone is wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. We have the gloves, disinfectant and we are ready… We are not letting more than four people inside the club at one time. Everyone is being good about it. We had the city inspector come in a watch. They said everything looked great and we are doing a super job.”

Outside of metro San Diego, other clubs are keeping pace by slowly increasing their programming. At La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, has resumed private lessons and small group lessons of four people or less, restricted to Club members. According to La Jolla’s Director of Tennis Conan Lorenzo, the club expects to welcome guests and non-members very soon.

At Kit Carson Park in Escondido, Eric Parker has also elected to emerge slowly towards a post-pandemic future.

“I’m still focusing on private lessons,” Parker said. “No clinics or groups, because I’m not comfortable with it. I don’t know where people have been and that is a concern.”

“It may take time for tennis to be back to previous normal levels,” Karen Ronney advised, “and that’s for the best.

“We want to do it safely,” she said.