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Play Safe Real Tennis

Updated Dec 31, 2020 (Tier 4 update)
Published Jul 21, 2020
Updated tiers from New Year's Eve

T&RA Update 31st December 2020

Tier 4 has been extended to counter the evolving coranavirus, affecting a large proportion of the UK. The following areas will be under these very highest restrictions: Restrictions by Tier

The new rules for tier 4 which are effectively a return to the November lockdown restrictions and indoor courts must close.

Those areas remaining in Tier 3, play is restricted to solo practice, same household or support bubbles, but travel is very restricted. Players should not travel into or out of a Tier 3 very risk alert areas to play Rackets, although under 18s are excepted from these travel restrictions.

Unchanged from previous announcements, Rackets may continue in Tier 1 areas, subject to the six-player bubbles articulated under Phase 2 of the Return to Play Guidelines. In Tier 2 areas, play is restricted to Zones or same household or support bubbles, effectively Phase 1 of the Return to Play Guidelines.

A short summary

  • In Tier 2 areas, Real Tennis can take place within households as before, but people will also now be able to play sports which do not involve close proximity or physical contact against one person from another household, such as singles Real Tennis
  • In Tier 3 areas, Real Tennis will be restricted to within your household only but travel restrictions apply
  • In Tier 4 areas, indoor courts (including Real Tennis) must close
  • Organised activities for U18s will be able to continue indoors across Tiers 1-3

The T&RA have published an updated summary grid for Tennis activity by tier that can now take place.

Full Guidance Documents

The Government's full, detailed guidance and legislation has nor been now published and we have reviewed and updated our full guidance documents for Tennis Clubs and Schools, professional and players, detailing all procedures and information needed to for Real Tennis activity to take place safely and in line with Government guidelines.

As a naturally socially distant sport that involves players at a significant distance away from each other with a net in between, the T&RA firmly believes that playing Real Tennis does not contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in any significant way, and so it can play a role in helping to safely maintain the health and wellbeing under coronavirus restrictions. Huge thanks to everyone from the Tennis community who has made this case to their local MP – this seems to have had an impact to ensure that more Real Tennis will now be permitted.

The T&RA has remained in discussion with other NGBs, requesting that more indoor adult Tennis should also be permitted in tiers 2 and 3. A joint proposal was put forward to Government so that optimal, yet safe, indoor sport is permitted across the tiered system, given its essential role in the physical and mental health of players. I am therefore delighted that the Government has listened to the arguments on the socially distant nature of Real Tennis, in making its decision to allow singles for adults in Tier 2 areas, and this will enable more players to remain active over the winter.

T&RA Activity during Lockdown

T&RA continued to lobby the Government to address the inconsistencies and unnecessary restrictions in their current rules. We share our members’ frustrations, and remind members that the T&RA Play Safe Guidelines are our interpretation of the Government rules, to try and assist clubs to enable as much compliant Tennis as they can.

The next scheduled review will be at the start of December.

Sport England have produced a useful FAQ page.

T&RA Safe Play

Some suggestions for safe play.

Please remember the social distancing measures and ensure you wash your hands before and after playing. At the end of the match, simply touch racquets in lieu of a handshake.


  • Do not go to a court if you or anyone in your household has any symptoms compatible with Covid 19.


  • Anyone taking part in Tennis activity should be aware of their area corresponding to its Tier restrictions, and if so what the restrictions are as they may impact on aspects of the activity beyond the court, such as travel or restrictions on socialising with people outside of your household around the Tennis venue (e.g. in venue clubhouses).


  • Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or antibacterial hand wash.
  • Make court bookings and payments online or via telephone.



  • Avoid using public transport as much as possible.
  • Arrive as close as possible to when you need to be at the court.
  • Arrive changed and ready to play. Shower at home, and do not use the venue’s changing facilities. Maintain social distancing when changing your shoes and/or shirt to go on court.
  • Do not congregate after playing. No social activity should take place.


  • Restricted doubles play is permitted for Tier 1, subject to maintaining strict social distancing by playing in prescribed formats, such as proposed in detailed guidance issued. The only exception is where pairs of players are all from the same household in which case they can play doubles as normal. This permits two families to play against each other, subject to maintaining other social distancing measures.
  • Singles only is permitted in Tier 2, although doubles may be played if a pair are from the same household.
  • Same household only Tennis for Tier 3. Both players in a singles game or all four players in a doubles game must be from the same household.
  • Organised Under 18 Tennis, both singles and doubles, is permitted for all Tiers.
  • Coached sessions should be limited to a maximum of four players (excluding the professional) for Tier 1, respecting the requirement to adhere to social distancing (unless a family household is being coached). No group coaching is permitted for Tiers 2 and 3.
  • Individual coaching is permitted in all Tiers, subject to social distancing.
  • Restrictions on group numbers vary depending on if the activity is informal social play or organised group activity.
  • As good ventilation will help to prevent infection, we recommend that:
    • Court sessions are restricted to a maximum of one hour.
    • Courts are scheduled to be left empty between bookings, to reduce the risk of airborne infection. We recommend a gap of at least 15 minutes between courts. We understand the potential impacts on revenue and the potential for confusing players who are used to specific timings. Given the importance of good ventilation in reducing infection, we encourage clubs to consider the benefits.
    • If the court has fans or windows for ventilation, utilise as much as possible.


  • For informal social play, group size is limited to a maximum of six people by law in Tier 1. This means you can play Tennis providing you only meet up with no more than five other people from different households and observe social distancing guidelines. People should not go to a Tennis court socially in groups of more than six.
  • For Tiers 2 and 3, group size is limited to individuals or same household pairs.



  • Stay at least two metres away from other players at all times. Tap racquets at the end of the match.
  • Do not make physical contact with other players.


  • If you need to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or upper sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid using your uncovered hands to pick up balls - use your racquet or a gloved hand as much as possible.
  • Avoid touching the court walls and other surfaces.
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