Tennis NB masters tournament in Saint Andrews to go ahead, but will look very different this year

Saint Andrews – The 11th annual Tennis New Brunswick masters tournament is taking place in Saint Andrews in August, but this year, things are going to be a lot different than they have been in previous years. Jenni Loudwell, Secretary for the St. Andrews Community Tennis Association (SACTA) said COVID-19 has caused them to make several changes in the way the tournament is held, but it isn’t going to stop them from hosting the popular event.

“This one will be quite different because of the effect that COVID has had on our ability to put on a tournament than we normally do,” said Loudwell.

Tennis New Brunswick has gotten back into the swing of things, and has hosted a few tournaments since the re-opening of tennis courts on June 5, which was part of Phase 3B of the province’s recovery from the pandemic. Mark Thibault, executive director of Tennis New Brunswick, said in an email to SACTA that they introduced a “phased-in approach” to the return of play for tennis, with very strict guidelines in place to protect players, staff, volunteers, and spectators. Three of four modified tournaments have been held, and this has given the organization the opportunity to test these new protocols and make changes as deemed necessary.

“Tennis New Brunswick has run four tournaments with some specific changes and has had success with all of them,” said Loudwell. “We’re attempting to do what they are doing, making sure that there is the least amount of things that people have to touch that have to be cleaned. For example, there will be no chairs on the courts. They’ll have to stand up in between, when you change over games.”

Loudwell said there will not be any score boards this year, which they would normally have and change after every two games. No food will be served, and SACTA will not even be providing water for the players, although they can obviously bring their own water. She said everyone taking part in the tournament will be made aware of the changes.

There will also be guidelines for spectators, including seating. In past years, the Town of Saint Andrews has provided bleachers for spectators. They will not be doing so this year. There will also be only four courts in use, as opposed to the six they usually use. Private residents have allowed the use of their own courts in past years, but this year only town courts will be used for the tournament.

“We’ll be doing the social distancing as far as people that are watching. It sounds a bit strange, but we’re not really encouraging a lot of people to come, or if they come, to come for a little while and not to stay for the whole day, because it’s not really a big area.”

In past years, SACTA has done the majority of running this event. This year, Thibault and an assistant will be running the entire tournament, in order to have control and ensure all protocols are observed, including social distancing. Because the Atlantic Travel Bubble allows people to travel between the Atlantic provinces there will be players coming from all across New Brunswick, as well as from Nova Scotia. There have been players from Maine take part in other tournaments, but they will not be able to do so this year due to the border closure.

The 2020 St. Andrews Masters is taking place at the town courts from Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 9. The entry fee is $25 for one event, and $15 for the second event, with a maximum of two events per player. Divisions this year will be 30+, 40+, 50+, 60+, 70+, men’s and ladies’ singles, men’s and ladies’ doubles, and mixed doubles.

Play will begin as early as noon on Friday, and all players must be available for a strict play schedule. This year, there will be no scheduling requests accepted. Registration for the tournament must be done online at www.tc.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/tournament

The deadline to register is Monday, August 3 at 11:49 p.m.

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca