If running was the sport of choice during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tennis is among the early candidates to experience a boom as the province lifts restrictions.
It is easy to see why officials would allow outdoor tennis courts to be among the first recreation facilities to open. Tennis not only allows individuals to exercise outdoors, but the very nature of the game creates physical distance between players. This is not the case for other sports such as soccer and hockey. Players of those sports will likely see their patience tested for the foreseeable future.
Tennis courts across Greater Victoria including on the Saanich Peninsula have been the among the first recreation facilities to reopen.
The Capital Regional District opened the outdoor tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts at Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich and Greenglade Community Centre on May 14. North Saanich reopened its pickleball and tennis courts at Wain Road Park on May 19. Central Saanich reopened its various outdoor courts on May 15. Outdoor tennis courts have also reopened in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay among other communities.
This opening serves Joanne Heath just fine as she was spending part of her Tuesday morning hitting balls at Central Saanich’s Centennial Park. It was her first time on a real court in at least two months.
“It’s wonderful,” she said as she picks up the tennis balls lying scattered across the court. One court over, four women were wrapping up their doubles games. “It has been a long time. It feels like forever. It’s lovely.”
When Heath could not hit the courts during the peak of the pandemic, she practised off a school wall. “But that doesn’t compare to actually being on the court,” she said. During the past few weeks, she has also been following the news to see when the provincial government, specifically provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, might give the go-ahead. “Is she going to talk about tennis? Is she going to talk about opening up parks again? So that was a huge focus. Tennis is really important for me.”
Heath started playing tennis when she was child, then stopped for many years as she raised her children, only to resume playing about 15 years ago.
“That is my life, tennis,” she said. Heath not only missed the physical activity, but also the social aspect. “You have a lot of extra time on your hand. What do I do?”
During her forced time away from the court, Heath found herself moving back to Central Saanich from Pender Island. “And I was staying with my son and his wife, and they have a four-year-old and an 18-month-old. So I was grandma. I was on duty. So yeah, it is lovely to get out here, as much as I love my grandchildren.”
Tuesday morning was not without its frustrations. “First time out, I expected it to be perfect,” she said. “It’s not, which is a little upsetting. But I will be back every day from now on.”
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