Watershed Moment for Return to Tennis Approaches

I like routine. I can probably take more of it than most. The recurring familiar sequence of the days one after another. Broken, only by the occasional afternoon break from work to walk in the daytime with the dogs. Even a takeaway coffee, presented unexpectedly counts as a highlight this past week. 

Training has been good. Seven days straight, good mix of running, weights, some racket work against the wall (need to go and ask the neighbour for my ball back!) and the agility ladder. Normally this would be a backdrop against which other parts of life take place. Right now it is the main thing to look forward to. 

Even I, lover of routine, of the familiar, have to admit I am a little bored. The punctuation between working week and weekend is much less than it used to be. Now I don’t even leave the house to go to work. The only difference really being which room I occupy for most of the day. 

This past week I have noticed I no longer wake with my brain a buzz with interesting thoughts. The need to capture in words thoughts that if not captured immediately are likely it seems to elude me for ever, is not there. I wake and lie longer in bed, on average around 8 minutes according to my Garmin watch. My mind calmer. I have been reaching deep sleep for longer over the past few days, maybe that’s partly the reason. 

There is growing relief with cases of the virus reducing and vaccinations increasing. Tomorrow many are speculating that when  the Prime Minister announces the roadmap to reducing the restrictions, that outdoor sport will be right up there. Before too long we will all be back on the tennis courts. My guess is that it will be a few weeks yet before rackets are again wielded across a net. 

There is good reason to hope that tennis will be an early activity to return as results from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine which has investigated the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from sports equipment, finds that the risk is likely to be low, and probably lower than from player interaction before, during and after sporting activity.   Dr Thomas Edwards who led the technical work said “The major risk of transmission during team sports is more likely to be during player interaction, either in transport, during play or socially before and after the game, and infection control measures should be focussed on these areas.  

What I do expect tomorrow is at least a signal of the conditions required to allow outdoor sport to resume. Mentally this will be a boost and there will possibly be something a little more concrete to focus on date wise. So far it’s been  a case of belief that at some point in the future we will again step foot onto a tennis court. With tournament dates seemingly receeding to some point beyond Easter, there’s  a way to go yet. 

The wider world awaits with expectation, peoples jobs are hanging by a thread in many cases and I think everyone wants to see children back in school and mingling with their friends. It seems we all want to meet, socialise and share a coffee with friends. For some though the wait will go on. Many of the older generation, will continue to keep themselves to themselves. I read some sobering stories this week of older people who confined to home, have lost mobility, the will to get out of bed in the morning and worsening mental health. In fact I don’t mind admitting that I shed  a tear at some of the stories. The really sobering thing was that some of the stories came from people aged 65-69. That is not so far away. 

Monday 22nd February 2021 is set to become a watershed moment in our recovery nationally from Covid-19 for so many reasons. Personally I can wait a few weeks longer for tennis to return, there are more important things right now. Being active including playing tennis is one of the more important of the less important things right now.  

The fortune  to even be able to think about playing tennis is apparent amongst so much hardship. I reflect that I have a great many things to be extremely grateful for. Maybe having something to aim for and a stubborness to keep on training and the physical ability to do so, has helped me along these past weeks. 

Saturday 20th Feb. Working out in the utility room with the noise of the tumble dryer for company. The rain hammering on the windows. Making progress in this small space amongst the wellies, coats and tools from the day’s DIY. On we go. 

I picked up this week a book by ex Olympic rower Annie Vernon called Mind Games. As the title would suggest it’s about the mental side of sport. She suggests that getting the physical side right is pretty straightfoward. Maybe when the programme is set out for you, as part of an elite squad, but it’s still a hurdle for us recreational athletes. Interesting though to read that doubt still plays a part at the elite level and how doing many things a little bit better makes a  huge difference. I am only a quarter way into the book and it already an engaging read.. If you are looking for a good read about the mental side of sport, this might just help while we wait for sport to resume. 

Fingers crossed for a positive announcement tomorrow.

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