PALERMO, AUGUST 1 – Five months after the suspension, Tennis restarted from Palermo’s Country Time Club with the first Qualifying round. Under a burning sun and in front of some spectators, Giulia Gatto Monticone (151 of the rankings) and Martina Trevisan (153) played the Italian derby. The body temperature of the lucky people who “conquered” the 250 tickets available was measured before they could access the Club. They found plenty of hand sanitiser around the club and were requested to wear a mask also on the stands.

Tennis was under way on other courts too, but without spectators. The first to certify a win in this new era is Argentine Nadia Podoroska (172), who defeated Hungarian Reka-Luca Jani (201), with a score of 6-3, 6-1, in a hour and sixteen minutes of play.

Many spectators were curious about the new protocol: there are three ball boys (over 18 years old) who, just like the linesmen, had to use a mask until the draw was completed. Gatto-Monticone and Trevisan kept their mouth and nose covered until it was time to warm up.

COVID-19 prevention measures also impose the use of a mask and social distancing for the only photographer present on site and for cameramen. The latter are testing their setup before the signal is sent to 160 countries in the world on Monday.

In Italy, Rai and SuperTennis will be transmitting the images from the first tournament after the suspension. A new era that imposes strict controls also for umpires (who underwent PCR tests), chair umpires and ball boys (serologic tests).

While Italian Fed Cup Captain Tathiana Garbin was watching, Trevisan served for the first game. Seats were distanced when players switched courts and a fan helped them to cope with Sicilian heat. Trevisan seemed more convinced and determined as she won the first set 6-4 and closed the match by winning the second set at tie break 7-6 (6).

At the end, the greeting is virtual: no handshaking, only racquets lightly touch. The court is quickly left to allow sanitisation before the following match. (nr)

Share this post on: