The 2020 Oracle ITA Summer Circuit Powered by UTR kicked off the weekend of June 26 with two tournaments – one in Ojai, California and another in Alpharetta, Georgia. Safely returning to play was the top priority when planning and hosting the tournament. Chase Hodges, head coach of the Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies, spent countless hours alongside the ITA staff planning the best way to bring college tennis back.

After successfully running his first tournament of the summer, Chase offered some advice on how to safely run a tournament.

ITA | What resources and organizations helped guide your decisions on guidelines for play at your tournament?

Chase Hodges | USTA and UTR Guidelines played a significant role as well as using some ideas of my own and my staff.  

ITA | What overarching health and safety precautions did you implement at your tournament?

Chase Hodges | The most major was recommending masks for everyone on site. In addition, hand sanitizers on location throughout the facility.  I also implemented a virtual event where all communication was done via messaging as there was no tournament desk. Results were texted in after completion.  

ITA | How are you keeping the players safe?

Chase Hodges | Players were asked to leave the venue after their match was complete to assist in social distancing. There was no hanging out on site.  

ITA | How are you keeping the fans safe?

Chase Hodges | Each participant was limited to just 2 family members or guests which greatly limited the amount of spectators on site.  

ITA | How are you keeping the officials safe?

Chase Hodges | Our entire staff wore masks and practiced social distancing to the best of our ability.  

ITA | It is important to be flexible due to the ever changing state of the pandemic. What were some contingency plans you had in place?

Chase Hodges | I used multiple locations which played a big role in breaking up the numbers of the event.  If I was to experience issues at a site, we still would have had the luxury of an additional site. 

ITA | What advice would you give to individuals looking to return to safely playing tennis?

Chase Hodges | We are lucky in that tennis is a sport where social distancing can be practiced while you are still competing. I would simply recommend that the precautionary methods prior to getting on court must be practiced.  

ITA | Why is it important that tennis play started again?

Chase Hodges | It’s important as tennis players that love the sport get the option to play again.  Even more important, players need to feel safe and tennis is a sport that can be done safe if appropriate measures are taken.  

ITA | Being one of the first ITA tournaments back, what was the tournament atmosphere like?

Chase Hodges | It was an atmosphere where I felt everyone proceeded with caution yet the athletes were extremely excited to play.   

Safe Play Options:

We [Georgia Gwinnett College] take the current Covid pandemic VERY seriously. Hand sanitizers will be on site at desk. Players can bring their own folding chair on court if they prefer to have their own chair for safety. All players and anyone on site MUST wear a mask. Each player is allowed only two family members to attend. When match is complete, leave event area and return 10 minutes prior to your next match. No practice courts on site. Covid guidelines apply as listed on tournament page. The winner will text match results to respective individuals. This will prevent unnecessary verbal communication. There is no tournament desk to prevent groups. If you are sick or have any symptoms of Covid-19, do NOT play. The facilities will open at 7am daily. The indoor lounge areas will be closed as this will strictly be an outdoor event. This will be a college rules event consisting of best of 3 sets with no ad scoring. A 10 point tie breaker will be played if you split sets. Coaching is NOT allowed. Please practice social distancing.

Practicing Safe Play During Covid-19:
1 – Try to stay at least six feet apart from other players. No shaking hands after match.
2 – Between points, use your racket/foot to pick up balls and hit them to your opponent.
3 – Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before, during and after play.
4 – Use your own towels and water bottles
5 – Avoid touching face after handling tennis balls or racket.
6 – Clean and wipe down your equipment prior to play.
7 – Hand sanitizers will be on site for the entire event.

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