"You can't turn the wind, so turn the sail"

Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and the best way I’ve found to describe the last few months to friends is with the proverb in the title of my blog. 

The global Covid-19 health pandemic is still sweeping across the world, and the impact has been felt personally, emotionally & economically here in Wales like everywhere else. We’ve been turning the sails of our ship multiple times to help navigate our sport, our business, our members and our partners towards the new normal, whatever that may look like, and we continue to do so.

Closing down, and then reopening a sport like tennis isn’t straight forward. Our sport is played by tens of thousands of people on more than 1,200 tennis courts across the country, each with their respective owner, operator, club committee, coaching team and management structure. My overwhelming feeling is that the tennis community has been outstanding in managing the Coronavirus, respecting the public health advice and ensuring that our players have remained safe.

I hope, when we’re all back out & about I get the opportunity to thank the people who work behind the scenes in tennis for all the great work they’ve done, and continue to do.

 sail boat                

With strict guidance in place, tennis returned on Monday 22nd June here in Wales following months of regular liaison with the LTA, Sport Wales, and the Welsh Sports Association and directly with the Welsh Government. It’s been great to see people returning to the sport they love and enjoy playing.

 Upon reflection, there’s a lot to be proud of in the last few months. As a publicly funded organisation, we didn’t furlough any of the Tennis Wales team, who all kept working whilst juggling their own childcare and personal challenges with working from home. Having a great team in place to communicate and support our tennis network enabled us, with financial support from the LTA, to provide support packages as quickly as possible where they were needed. More than £200,000 has been invested directly into coaches and venues throughout May & June to support the sport with additional money being attracted from external sources such as the UK government furlough scheme for venues and coaches, Local Authority grants and from Sport Wales.

 

 Tennis at night

Looking ahead, I’ve no doubt there’ll be plenty more changes and challenges to our new normal. Whilst tennis is being played again, I’m acutely aware there is a lot more we need to do to help tennis coaches to get back up & running, as well as identifying the specific challenges for our tennis clubs and indoor facilities in the weeks ahead as further restrictions are lifted.

 Players are returning to tennis courts across Wales, albeit slowly, safely and carefully as we know the risks of the pandemic have not gone away, but must be managed accordingly. In partnership with the Welsh Government, and with all the available information, tennis will continue to open back up across Wales.

I’m both optimistic and positive for the future of tennis in spite of the challenges we’ve seen in the last few months. Who knows, sometime soon the wind may drop, but until then, we’ll continue turning the sails to get to where we all want to be, on court.