May 16, Saturday, marks the first day that many areas in the country will be under general community quarantine, easing some hard social restrictions and allowing for more activities and the reopening of some sports.
That includes golf and tennis, classified as basically noncontact sports in which safety protocols such as social distancing and many essential health guidelines can still be practiced.
According to De La Salle University lawn tennis head coach Roland Kraut, his sport “naturally” follows social distancing.
“The only adjustment would be that maybe singles will be recommended for the meantime, probably no doubles muna. The best the players can do is to do tennis specific fitness drills at home,” Kraut said.
National golf team head coach Miko Alejandro added: “Everyone’s following directives of the government and staying home. We’ve obviously been limited with training, but everyone has been able to hit golf shots one way or another.
“Some players have legit nets set up, others have makeshift ones using bed sheets and anything else they can find at home. (It) seems to have been the trend, as people have been forced to be creative using the things they have at home. People with bigger yards have been more fortunate hitting pitch shots and other drills.”
The incremental relaunch of tennis and golf activities offers a glimmer of hope not just for athletes but also for those who depends on those sports for a living.
Kraut said: “Just like any other industry, clubs are hit hard and also the coaches since our income is based on how many hours we coach. Players also are doing home exercises but, of course, all are itching to return.”
Alejandro agreed: “One of the biggest affected also are the caddies of the clubs. All of them are not employees so wala talaga income, although clubs have generally done a good job in helping them as far as aid.”
The golf mentor said the public should expect changes in the sport.
“The hole will slightly be modified so the golf ball doesn’t go all the way down (players will not need to pick it up with their hands from the hole directly), and also some relaxed rules on certain hazards,” Alejandro said.
“The biggest thing that will change is that it will be less of a social event in general. But I think I can speak on behalf of the entire golfing community that we are just happy to get out on the course again.”
Both Kraut and Alejandro agree that safety measures must be the priority.
Alejandro said: “Personally, social distancing pa rin. The less interaction with others, the better. I think if we can be in and out of the golf course, then back home, it’ll be safe. We seem to be the sport built for this, as you can even play alone.”
Kraut added: “We have to wait for the tennis federation to come up with guidelines. Some things I expect to come out are: Singles play only, no doubles; maximum of two players and one coach on the court; advanced booking of the courts so that people don’t hang around and wait; and players should wear masks before and after playing.”
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.