Four Ways to Safely Improve Your Tennis Game During the COVID-19 Pandemic


What better time to take the initiative to acquire lifelong physical and social competence than when many traditional fitness options face the unusual hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you’re getting expert coaching from one of the many local pros or just trying to maintain a rally on a neighborhood court, there are plenty of local ways to safely improve your tennis game during the COVID pandemic. -19.

As longtime Roger Scott instructor Brian Sakey said, a quote now commemorated on the school’s street billboard: “Play on your front foot, mate!”

Lauren Hughes manages to return the ball during a "Love to learn" adult course starting at Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola on Wednesday August 12, 2020.

Tennis and COVID-19

It should come as no surprise that COVID-19 tennis regulation begins in the common spaces and objects of many tennis facilities.

The United States Tennis Association issued safety guidelines throughout the pandemic, including early recommendations to suspend play nationwide, which led to the closure of many of the city’s courts. from Pensacola.

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USTA guidelines include thorough disinfection of hands, rackets, baskets, and other common contact points. Class groups are recommended to be smaller and the etiquette is to leave court distance between players if possible.

Tennis companies have started providing new products to accommodate social distancing measures.

According to Austin Racine, a former Booker T. Washington and Division I tennis player who now works with Wilson Sporting Goods, the companies have even marketed packs of two balls numbered one through four to limit ball contact between them. singles and doubles players.

Instructor Rita Dotson hits balls at students during a "Love to learn" adult course starting at Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola on Wednesday August 12, 2020.

Keep tennis lessons relaxed at the start

When it comes to lessons, the best bet isn’t necessarily to dive into one-on-one coaching, according to Racine.

“If you’re going to take a private lesson, it’s $ 50 or more,” said Racine, who has been teaching locally since the age of 16. “If you want to get into sports, the best way to do it is to grab some buddies and go do a group class. Then you play with friends and get better at the same time.

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The Roger Scott Tennis Center recently hosted a Love to Learn course for adult beginners which takes place every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sessions cost $ 30 and loaner rackets are available, according to the event’s Facebook page.

While group lessons are addictive, Racine said he often recommends his clients supplement weekly training sessions with occasional trades and matches against players of similar skill and ambition.

“If you put them on two to three times a week, and not just taking classes… I wouldn’t suggest people spend a lot of money on classes,” Racine said. “Better take one lesson a week and the rest of the time it’s just going out on the pitch and playing with friends.”

Shane Francis practices hitting the backhand during a "Love to learn" adult course starting at Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola on Wednesday August 12, 2020.

Use a wall if you don’t have a partner

It may seem difficult to practice tennis without someone on the other side of the net, but training wall exercises can help refine the muscle memory needed to play tennis consistently. Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida are among the tennis walls available in the area.

“Coming out to the PSC and hitting the wall is a huge beneficial factor in getting better just because of the footwork,” Racine said. “Walls at all levels will help you improve. It’s a great way to train on your own.

Find free tennis training on social media

As in many areas, the Internet offers virtually unlimited free access to tennis training.

Even Racine, the son of longtime UWF tennis coach Derrick Racine, took to YouTube to help him rebuild his forehand during his high school career.

Combining free internet education with self-analysis – like filming your own swings and comparing them to professional ones – can give beginners an early opportunity for accelerated learning.

“It’s free education available to you. If you watch the pros shots in slow motion you can really get down [your stroke] … It’s about seeing the hits as you learn the technique. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are free classes out there.

Eric J. Wallace can be reached at [email protected] or 850-525-5087.

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