Joey Balleweg, Intern
– While driving through Temecula, residents can see the many city parks with empty baseball fields and basketball courts, and no high school teams running their summer sports camps. One place they might see athletes practicing are on tennis courts throughout the valley.
The Murrieta Tennis Club, 39405 Murrieta Hot Springs Road, adapted to changing health orders due to the coronavirus pandemic and stayed in business.
“Our private lessons have gone through the roof,” Scott Dickey, owner of Murrieta Tennis Club for 22 years, said. “Our pros (tennis coaches) have been busier this summer than they have ever been. Everyone likes private lessons because of the social distancing that comes with it, hitting with a pro who is 30 feet away from you.”
Accommodating social distancing, the club has restricted the number of students for group lessons.
“Normally, with three courts, we will have 30 kids, but now we can only do two courts with four kids on a court,” Dickey said.
The group lessons are operating about 60-65%, he said.
“Normally summer camps are a big moneymaker, but this year we just had to survive,” Dickey said.
The club has taken several precautions due to the coronavirus, such as removing all benches from the courts, having players sanitize their hands as well as taking temperature checks before any lesson. Even with only four athletes on a court, coaches make sure they spread out as much as possible. To limit the amount of people roaming around the club, they requested only one parent come to watch and pick up their child and not bring any additional family members along.
“The biggest concern was the touching of the tennis balls,” Dickey said.
He said parents wanted to know if coaches would be wearing masks when close to the players as well.
When the club reopened in late March, Dickey said many members were hesitant to come back so soon.
“The first two weeks were totally quiet, but as we started small groups it slowly started to build,” he said.
Dickey said, currently, “We are as busy as we have ever been with members. We got a lot of new members because tennis is one of the only things available.”
Joey Balleweg can be reached by email at email@example.com.