Tennis is set for return in Germany amid pandemic
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a new package last week that the country will follow as it begins to loosen lock restrictions.
Merkel met with the country’s 16 regional leaders on Thursday to discuss extending or easing restrictions on social separation, but tennis has already received the green light in three of the 16 regions, including in Rhineland-Palatinate where the Tennis-Point Exhibition A series has been organized.
The man behind the tournament is Rodney Rapson, general manager of Europe and the UK for PlaySight, the video system that will provide live footage of the event.
Rapson is friends with the name of Tennis-Point star, former world number 64 Dustin Brown, and the pair – with PlaySight Sportradar partner – have been talking since the ATP and WTA tournaments were postponed last month.
“It happened very quickly and we didn’t think it would happen if we were honest,” Rapson told CNN Sport.
“We are the first to come back for sport in general in Europe, but it is probably because the majority of people were just waiting for the government to relax the rules before making plans, while we were planning all the time and were in waiting for the rules announcement to be relaxed – then we had an event ready to go. ”
Player health and safety
Although tennis has already received the green light to return, Rapson says the organizers have been meticulous in their preparation to ensure the health and safety of the players.
The tournament will take place without fans and there will never be more than three people on the field at the same time – both players and the referee. Players will enter and exit through different doors and sit opposite each other so they never cross the net.
All food and beverages will be pre-packed and players will eat alone at the tables and will have their own personal space of two by two meters for storage in which no one else on the site can enter.
The tournament, which takes place in the small town of Höhr-Grenzhausen, which has only 10,000 inhabitants, is also limited to players residing in the region to prevent people from traveling and spreading the virus.
“It was an expensive undertaking to prepare the site according to the guidelines on coronaviruses,” he said. “The government has set the guidelines and, obviously, tennis is already a sport that can be played according to rules of social distancing.
“So the good news is that in this area the government has allowed tennis to play despite everything, we didn’t need a special exemption for the pros. But having said that, we’ve put a lot of planning into the concept of how we would run the event.
“From the start, we thought about what needs to be done for health and safety regulations, a lot of assumptions too, but we went a little too cautiously. It is better to be too careful than to send the event, but so far the feedback has been good. ”
The organizers have written to ATP and the WTA explaining why they were hosting the event – although they don’t need either approval for it to take place – and the two governing bodies gave the tournament their blessing and were pleased that the players had a of income, said Rapson.
The event also complied with all regulations established by the Tennis Integrity Unit, the organization responsible for investigating arranged matches in tennis.
The tournament format is an eight-player round robin followed by an elimination phase between the first four on the last day to decide who will finish first, with prizes awarded accordingly in addition to appearance fees.
Matches are at the best of three sets and sets are shortened to the first to four games, with three-point ties and wins at subsequent points when matches reach the same level.
Tennis fans worried that this tournament will be unique will be relieved to learn that Rapson has two more lined up in Germany and four more in Atlanta, USA – the first of which starts on May 11 – with names like Donald. Young, Taylor Townsend and Shelby Rogers.
However, he rejected the idea that similar events take place in places in the world where many prominent players reside, such as Spain, France or Miami, and will continue to help players of lower rank than earning income during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In normal business, your biggest asset usually takes the biggest return and unfortunately in tennis – and all sports – that doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s going on in normal business,” says Rapson.
“Players are the biggest asset in this sport, no, but they usually don’t get the biggest share. Let’s put Roger [Federer] and the fat guys aside, I’m talking about guys from 50 around the world to 300 or 400.
“They make up the numbers, they are a really big part, they need those numbers to play the tour and they don’t get a good return on their value as an asset.”
“You see where all that money can be sucked out at these big events and by the time it gets to the players, the money price is very low, especially lower. The best guys are franchise players and their franchise values are huge, probably bigger than the tour itself, but for these young guys below, it’s hard for them. ”