COVID-19 Questions

Courts are due to re-open on Monday, 18th May with a number of restrictions. We are creating this page to help members get familiar with these restrictions and how they affect you. Also, to answer questions on the details of the restrictions or the systems we are putting in place to support the return to play.

The restrictions we have are based on the protocols from Tennis Ireland. They are designed for Phase 1 of the Government’s Roadmap for the phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. As such they are likely to alter (hopefully ease) but will remain in place until further notice.

If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, or if anything is unclear at all please get in touch. You can message Alastair or Leán or email skerriestennis@gmail.com.

This is not be business as usual

Courts will re-open on May 18th but the Government and Tennis Ireland are being pretty clear that COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while. We can’t just go back and play tennis as usual and the last thing we want is to be responsible for a further outbreak / resurgence of the disease among our members. We are very happy that we can facilitate people getting back out on court but your health and safety and the health and safety of other members needs to be at the very front of your mind as we do this.

Playing time will be limited and you will need to follow quite stringent guidelines while on the courts or around them. Some of these will be quite a change but it will be important to remember them and to abide by them. However relaxed you are about spreading the virus and whatever your opinions are, we all have to look out for the safety of other members. We are subject to the law of the land and to the protocols agreed by Tennis Ireland with the experts and we will all need to follow those rules.

The Community Centre will be opening the courts to the public from 9am – 4pm under its own protocols. We strongly advise all members to follow the guidance agreed between Tennis Ireland and the Government’s health experts at all times.

Covered in the sections below

Where can I find the Tennis Ireland Guidance for Players?

It is important that you read and study the guidance for players which outlines the steps all players will need to take to play under this new system. They have been emailed out to all members and are accessible via the homepage of the site. You can also view them at this link.

Key points for players
Maintain social distancing (2m) at all times

Maintain 2 metres distance from all others at all times. Pay special attention to entering and leaving the court areas. Be careful to maintain distance during changeovers and at the beginning and end of your session.

Touch nothing that isn’t yours

Bring everything you will need to the courts, including water, towel, hand sanitiser, balls etc. Pass nothing to your playing partner or anyone else. Crucually, this includes balls. See section below on that. Do not touch the net posts (don’t adjust the net for example). Do not touch the gate. It will be very easy to accidentally fall into old habits and casually lean on a net post, or the fence or throw a ball to your opponent to catch. Be mindful that the virus lives on surfaces.

Each player has to bring their own balls

Each player should bring their own balls. Your set of balls should be clearly marked. You should only handle your own set of balls (now, now).

When you serve, you use your balls and when your opponent serves they use theirs. Balls can be returned to the other side of the net by picking up with your racquet and foot and then hitting with your racquet. Balls should be returned to other courts the same way.

These measures are to prevent the virus from attaching to the surface of the balls and then being handled by your opponent.

Leave nothing on the courts

We shouldn’t be littering the courts anyway but please be extra careful not to leave anything behind you.

Share nothing with your playing partner or anyone else

See above. Touch nothing that isn’t yours.

Use hand sanitizer at the entrance before you play and bring your own also

Please bring your own hand sanitiser / wipes in case you need to use them during play or for any reason there is none available on site. Sanitise before and after play.

Is it singles only?

In the initial phase, the rules allow for singles only, with one exception. You can play doubles as long as the 2 people on the same side of the net are from the same household. We believe that the Community Centre will be singles only (that’s 9am – 4pm while they are open) because they don’t feel they are in a position to police what households people are from. You can double check that with them. During times that the club is running sessions you will be able to play doubles providing the 2 people in a team are from the same household. Please note that this is household, not family. Restrictions on doubles are likely to ease in the coming weeks as we go through the phases of the roadmap but that is the situation for now.

Do we really need to bring a set of balls each?

Yes. Each player (singles) needs their own set of balls and you need to have them clearly marked so they don’t get picked up by your opponent or anyone on another court. You serve with your set of balls and you only handle your own set. That way you aren’t potentially passing the virus back and forth between you. I’m sure detailed research will be done on the actual transmission risk involved with tennis balls but for now, this is the guidance from Tennis Ireland and it is in line with what the LTA in England are saying and the USTA in the States. We don’t know whether this will be enforced by the centre during the day but it will be required when the club has the courts open and we strongly urge you all to follow this procedure at all times.

Booking in advance

For playing times between 9am and 4pm you can book as usual through the Centre. For evenings, the club is putting in place an online booking system. Courts must be booked in advance and you need to give the name(s) of all people playing. This is for contact tracing. It is vital that we can quickly and accurately state who was on court with whom at any given time. Do not show up to play without booking in advance.

Paying for courts

The Community Centre are planning on opening reception and you will need to pay as usual. We strongly recommend minimising contact. If paying by cash, we advise that you have exact change. The Centre has contactless payment available but for a minimum of €10. They may allow €10 payments on account but we aren’t clear on the details of that right now.

If we open the courts in the evenings, it will be members only and we will put in place a system where you can pay on account. We will not handle cash.

What times will the courts be open?

The Community Centre will be re-opening on Monday 18th. They are planning to open daily from 9am – 4pm. The club will open the courts as a trial on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Tennis Ireland protocols restrict us to members only.

What about evenings?

For now, we can only open in the evenings if we do so ourselves. This requires us to have all necessary infrastructure in place to abide by the protocols and do all we can to safeguard our members. Assuming we can get the necessary structural changes in place we are planning to trial opening on Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7pm – 9pm. To open, we need 1 person on the gate at all times. The committee will cover this for the 2 nights next week but we will need volunteers to help out if we are to continue. If there is demand, and if there are people available to help out, we will consider extending opening. All players on court during these sessions must be members.

How do I volunteer to help with stewarding?

If you want to put your name down to help with the stewarding, just email to skerriestennis@gmail.com. Thank you, your help is appreciated.

Who can and cannot play?

You cannot play and should stay away from the courts if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • You have been overseas in the last 14 days
  • You have flu-like symptoms or are feeling unwell
  • You live outside a 5km radius of the club
  • You are over 70 years of age during this phase of the reopening

What if I am in a high risk health category?

If you are in a high risk category, you should consult with your GP before returning to play. Members should not put themselves at risk against the health advice of the government or health professionals. You can check what constitutes high risk categories and what steps the HSE is advising to protect yourself here: People at higher risk from coronavirus – HSE.ie. Please look after yourself. The restrictions are phased and you do not need to rush back.

Are Juniors permitted to play?

Yes. Juniors are permitted to play as long as they obey the social distancing and other provisions set out here. Practically speaking, there are considerable difficulties with ensuring social distancing among younger juniors. The club’s Saturday sessions for younger juniors will not re-start during Phase 1 but we will continue to monitor and assess that situation with the club coach, the junior committee and the parents as things develop. We are aiming to re-start the teenage sessions but do not have a start date as yet. Juniors should be supervised by 1 parent / guardian when on site, to ensure social distancing etc.

Why can I not play if I am over 70?

Government guidance for over 70s is that you cocoon. Recent easing of restrictions allows for getting out of the house but contact is to be avoided. We’ll monitor the situation and do what we can to facilitate you getting safely back on court but we’ll have to wait until it’s legal for us to do so.

I live more than 5km from the courts can I still come and play?

During Phase 1 the 5km restriction remains in place. Phase 2, is due to come in on the 8th of June and will extend the travel distance to 20km. These travel restrictions are not a matter for us, they are the law.

Where can I find details on the Government Roadmap?

The Government’s Roadmap for the phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Skerries Lawn Tennis Club