The Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association has sent a letter to the COVID-19 Task Force and the National Park Service, requesting the reopening of the American Memorial Park tennis courts.
The task force is in charge of issuing and implementing safety guidelines regarding public activities, including sports, while the Guam-based NPS oversees the operations of the AMP, which has four tennis courts that the community utilize for recreation and competitive tennis before the COVI9-19 pandemic forced the closure of the facility.
In appealing for the reopening of the AMP tennis courts, NMITA, through its president Jeff Race, attached a copy of an article about the risk various activities pose to the spread of the coronavirus based on the assessment of four public health experts from Michigan.
The article, posted on the Michigan Live website, showed activities and their rankings in the risk level, 1 to 10, with the latter being the riskiest. The levels were determined through the venue (indoor or outdoor); proximity to others; exposure time; likelihood of compliance; and personal risk level.
Tennis got the lowest rank at 1, as it is usually played outdoors and only two (singles game) to four people (doubles) are inside the court and have significant distance away from each other.
Besides the published assessment report, NMITA backed up its claim of resuming tennis activities in a safely manner by setting its own guidelines, including limiting entry to the courts to tennis players only. Signages will also be posted around the AMP tennis courts to remind players about the safety precautions against the COVID-19 virus, while activities will be limited to practices and no tournaments will be held.
When the AMP reopens, the NMITA hopes to join majority of Oceania Tennis Federation member-countries on the list of organizations that have resumed tennis activities with restrictions/safety guidelines. The OTF was the first region to have recreational tennis and practice sessions back with its members—Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Guam among others—allowing players to return to the court early this month.
Before the pandemic struck, NMITA had one of the most consistent and successful sports programs in the CNMI with some of its competitions scheduled at the AMP tennis courts. The last time a tournament was held at the facility was in February during the Coconut Tennis Classic.
Golf, swimming, and biking are among the sports-related activities allowed to resume, while soccer training sessions (physical fitness and individual drills) for the CNMI nationals teams have also been permitted.