A Successful Return to Play for Clubs and Schools
From the 1st September 2020, all Rackets playing venues were able to move into Phase 2 of our â€˜Phased Return to Playâ€™. What this means for players is that they can form â€˜Rackets Bubblesâ€™ and play full-court singles matches although additional hygiene and club-specific measurements will be in place.
Rackets is up and running at Charterhouse with pupils getting used to the return to play guidance. They are using a horizontal model - only playing within year groups during designated playing times.
Carthusians are generally adapting to this well and are becoming accustomed to the procedure with sanitising and the wearing of a disposable glove on their non-playing hand. Charterhouse will advance into singles play and some form of ladder or handicap in order to have some progression throughout the term. At the moment, players are happy to get back on court and improve their skills. Knocking up effectively while staying on one side of the court requires a good level of control and discipline.
At Cheltenham, the first weeks of a new school year are always a busy, productive, and enjoyable time. Trials & taster sessions are conducted for the six boys and five girl's houses. The yearlings have now joined a club that boasts 94 pupils all playing at least once a week. 47 boys and 46 girls is an impressive number for a one court school.
The court this week will have seventy hours play and thanks must go to the support of the SLT to allow pupils in upper College to book study periods for one to one sessions.
With no fixtures due to the present climate, this has provided Cheltenham with an opportunity to showcase the sport internally. They have also provided a safe environment with all players buying goggles. Rackets and balls are regularly sanitised after each player or pair finish. A day to day program for court timings is emailed out to pupils and staff.
Hopefully, Cheltenham pupils can look forward to opening the doubles game and eventually fixtures but in the meantime the game continues to flourish.
At Radley, they have asked the boys not to play singles (in line with social distancing required in other sports) however sticking to just hitting on different sides maintains social distancing.
The boys have been placed into bubbles of 6 players of the same or similar standard. During a court booking, only 2 boys are allowed in the building and on court. Boys are given their own initialed balls for every session which are sanitised before and after every session as well as all grips.
The Tonbridge School Rackets club has been in semi-full swing for 3 weeks now. Both courts are being used throughout every day and in the evenings till 8pm. Boys are in year group bubbles with a max of 4 on court.
At Tonbridge there is an U15 singles tournament that started on the 18th September. This should have been played in the summer term as an U14 singles tournament. There is a cup to be won, and both finalists receive a free new racket!
Sadly, the first year boys are missing out but they will just have to wait a little longer before a taster of rackets is arranged.
Wellington College was one of the first schools to return for the Michaelmas Term of 2020. School sport is operating in timetabled sessions rather than games afternoons, which means that pupils only play within their own school year group. This month they have also been running summer sport options alongside winter sports, which means a boy could be playing cricket, rugby and rackets, a girl could be playing hockey, tennis and rackets, or indeed any other permutation. A combination of these, and other restrictions has had an impact on the flexibility of the rackets programme, but the court has been busy since the start of term.
The established players, boys and girls, are playing regular singles matches against others in their own school year group. Four players from the same house can play doubles, and two houses in particular have made the most of that opportunity. We have also seen every new pupil on court at least once, and a group of enthusiastic and promising Yearlings is beginning to emerge.
In the first week of October, we are hosting what we understand to be the first event of the new rackets season: a four player â€œbest of oneâ€ round-robin with one year group of pupils at a time spectating in the gallery. The promoters are delighted to announce the line up: Tom Billings (1), Ben Cawston (2), James Coyne (3), and Alex Titchener-Barrett.
At Queens, the semi-finalists of the WATKINS Trophy (Handicap singles) tournament have been put in a bubble and they have their matches scheduled.
Queens are at the Quarterfinals Stage of the Club Champs and the players have been emailed as the club is hoping to get this going too!
There has been little play of any sort on the rackets court but this is due to the external building repairs that are currently taking place. Work on the roof of the tennis court will start in a couple of weeksâ€™ time during which the court will be out of action.