Tennis is Back… One Step at a Time

From San Luis Obispo County to San Diego, tennis clubs and fitness facilities around Southern California have slowly been opening up over the past few weeks, and it brings with it some good news.

According to some selected tennis directors and teaching pros we reached out to, the courts have been nothing short of packed and tennis players have been coming out en masse to return to the game they love.

At the Avila Bay Club in Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo, Director of Tennis Michael Marquez said the tennis action has been “busier than it’s ever been.”

“We’ve been open since May 11 for tennis only,” Marquez said. “I don’t have my entire teaching staff back until June 15 so it’s been myself and Stefan Hardy and a selected few others that have running the ship.”

Even popular Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo men’s tennis coach Nick Carless can be seen teaching juniors and other members at Avila Bay, who Marquez said have been entering through a side gate and adhering to CDC guidelines that have been put in place ever since the Covid-19 pandemic took over back in mid-March. “Our members answer all the questions: Have they been traveling, do they have a fever, have then been in contact with anyone with Covid-19,” he said.

Marquez said members are required to wear a face mask but take it off once they enter the court.

Cathy Jacobson-Guzy, who manages both the popular Billie Jean King Tennis Center and the tennis concession at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, said she was given permission to open both facilities on May 11.

“The courts are very busy and everyone is so happy and excited to be able to get out to play,” Jacobson-Guzy said, adding that It is mandatory that all players walk in and out of the pro shop with a mask. “We have the floor marked to keep six feet of social distance. We are allowed to play doubles, however, the tennis pros are only able to do private lessons at the moment. We’re hoping that in a few weeks will be able to have group lessons, tournaments, parks and rec classes and maybe start our summer camps.”

Jennifer Azevedo, the Director of Tennis at the Paseo Club in Santa Clarita, said she has to hand it to her club players who have all been amazing during the shutdown. “They are appreciative of all the components we’ve put into place to keep them healthy, and everyone has found the first steps of our new normal to be nothing to really be fazed by,” she said. “The tennis court offers such a great opportunity to be active and engaged while keeping great social distance, and our members are really respectful of keeping with the chapters of our re-opening as they progress.”

Azevedo was asked whether the current climate will affect the sport over the long-term. “I think our sport is going to experience a great wave of newcomers in the months ahead,” she said. “We have always known how wonderful tennis is on all levels: the competition, the fitness, and the stress release all combine to make a great experience. As we navigate the safety precautions that don’t seem to be going away any time soon, other athletes are going to start to wonder if tennis is the answer they need.”