Tennis Wales ‘devastated’ by Welsh government decision to delay resumption – BBC News

‘It’s a challenge how tennis can survive in Wales’

Tennis Wales is “devastated” that the sport cannot restart under the Welsh government’s latest coronavirus rules.

People in England have been allowed to play tennis outdoors since 13 May, while in Scotland it has been allowed on a restricted basis since Friday.

The Welsh government has decided, on the public health advice given in Wales, that tennis cannot yet resume.

“Wales is the only part of Western Europe you can’t play,” Tennis Wales chief executive Simon Johnson said.

“It’s been shown in Germany, France and Spain, with varying different political strategies, that tennis is a great form of exercise that can be played with social distancing.”

Tennis Wales and the Lawn Tennis Association have been liaising closely with the Welsh government throughout the duration of the lockdown about the safe return of tennis.

“We’ve spent the last three or four weeks working on detailed guidance to show how we can adapt our sport, how it can be played outdoors where we know the virus transmission is much lower,” Johnson told BBC Sport Wales.

“We were pretty devastated in terms of the announcement which effectively means that hasn’t been taken on board.

“We’ve got local communities with 1200 tennis courts across Wales, which people can walk and cycle to within the five miles guidance issued by the government.

“We feel very strongly – in the same way golf has been able to return to play – with strict social distancing measures in place, that tennis was in a real strong place to do that.

“Behind the scenes we’ve done all the work with the LTA to develop a draft guidance based on Welsh legislations to make it crystal clear that there was no public health threat here, and we had a funded plan behind the scenes to roll out.”

The Welsh government will review the lockdown measures again on 18 June and Tennis Wales hopes facilities and courts will be allowed to open sooner rather than later.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We are continuing our discussion with Tennis Wales with regards to the safe return of tennis.”

Johnson says that as soon as the green light is given, courts will be ready to open immediately.

“The important message from us is tennis is ready to open up, we have all the guidance in place,” added Johnson.

“It’s devastating from a governing body perspective to be in this situation, but there are also 200 self-employed tennis coaches and a network of venues, volunteers and facilities who could be contributing so much at the moment to public health and people’s well-being.”

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