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T&RA Guidance on Post-Lockdown Tournament Play

Aug 05, 2020


Tennis players throughout the UK have welcomed the reopening of courts following the relaxations on the rules. The T&RA have issued Play Safe Guidelines to Clubs and Professionals to assist with the process of reopening.

These Play Safe Guidelines include a number of measures that will make it difficult to play competitively in intra- and inter-club tournaments. Guidelines concerning social distancing, leaving gaps between games, restricting Professional time in high risk areas, enhanced cleaning, and the restrictions on doubles play all have significant impact on competitions.

We are keen that Players return safely to tennis as soon as they are comfortable to do so, and we encourage Clubs to be innovative and flexible in order to get people back on court.

The purpose of these Tournament Play Guidelines is to help Clubs in that process, while continuing to comply with relevant Government guidelines and to manage risk to an acceptable level.


There are currently no specific restrictions on competitive and tournament play.

If Clubs can run these events in a way that complies with existing Government and T&RA guidelines, then the events can go ahead.

The Tournament Play Guidelines look at the key areas where competitive and tournament play is likely to conflict with the Government and T&RA guidelines, and suggests ways to overcome these conflicts.

Singles Play Only Advised

The T&RA currently recommends against doubles play unless rules which allow for social distancing are in force. These rules are unlikely to be suitable for competition play in most circumstances.

Clubs should therefore consider singles tournaments before doubles.

Social distancing

A key principle of the current guidelines is the need for social distancing and minimal contact between players.

While social distancing is required:

  • Players should be expected to mark their own matches. Noting the possible increased risk from shouting, it is suggested that players avoid loudly calling chases and may wish to call chases at change of ends, or by some other method. If marking is felt to be essential for a tournament, whether for reasons of tradition, prestige or competitiveness, clubs should postpone until such time as possible. (An exception might be made for clubs where marking from top galleries or other safety arrangements are feasible).
  • Clubs should not allow spectators for tournament matches.
  • No social program can be carried out alongside the tournament.
  • Consider streaming to provide a virtual audience where possible.


‘Non-synchronous’ formats – where players arrange games at their convenience – are likely to be easier to organise than tournaments involving successive games, for example in boxes with matches played on the same day.

Timed or semi-timed formats (whoever is ahead at 45 minutes, first to 8 games) are encouraged as they will allow both gaps to be left between games, and for players to be able to turn up on time without having to wait in the club. Competition rules should strictly forbid use of ‘ventilation time’ to finish games or make up time.

General points

  • Lenient policies (e.g. allowing substitute players or no-quibble refunds) should be used to encourage players to withdraw if there is any risk.
  • All bookings and payments to be online, and all scheduling queries and info to be done via noticeboard or online.
  • Consider wiping down the high contact surfaces between each match, as the increased vigour of competition play may increase the risk of transmission via surface
  • Consider rotating ball sets more frequently than once a day where possible.
  • Avoid using ‘Covid’ or ‘Coronavirus’ in tournament names due to the sensitivity people may have to this

Restrictions on Changing Rooms and Showers:

We currently recommend that changing rooms and showers remain closed. The enhanced cleaning regime required would expose the Professionals to too much time in high risk areas. If external cleaners are used, the potential adverse impact of those people contracting Covid is, in our opinion, too big to risk at present.

If players are required to play successive games, then consider providing changing rooms or other private spaces for the purpose of changing shirts or similar between matches.

T&RA Sponsorship

The T&RA recognises that these restrictions on tournaments, which are a valuable and important feature of our game, will be frustrating. However, we believe that with some creative thinking competitive matches can be accommodated, and that such events will be important in encouraging members to come back to play, and to work on their game.

The T&RA will therefore provide prizes and keepsakes for finalists in one handicap competition per club which adheres to the above guidelines. Such tournaments can be split into two handicap bands (we recommend above and below 50 handicap) in which case the T&RA will provide prizes and keepsakes for two finals. These could be existing pennants or competitions, or something organised as a one-off (Twenty20 tennis, perhaps?)

We would hope that all such competitions might be complete by the end of the calendar year, giving ample time for asynchronous scheduling. If conditions and schedule allow, we will try and organise a tournament similar to the Chetwood for each club’s Twenty20 champion.

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