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Diary of a Frustrated Pandemic Tennis Player

By Mitch Polstein Jr.

German tennis player Benjamin Hassan wearing a mask during a recent exhibition match

As a tennis bum, the pandemic has made it hell trying to find a place in Manhattan to play. By play, I mean hitting balls over an imaginary net in an unlocked schoolyard or over a clothesline strung between two poles of a repurposed volleyball court. Players have also snuck in to hit against forbidden walls on handball courts, on paved and unpaved paths and in the empty plaza in front of the bandshell in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center.

One would think social distancing would be easy on a tennis court, but the Powers That Be thought otherwise. Most public courts are finally now open with a host of new rules, depending upon the facility, such as no doubles, singles only. Well, I never liked my doubles partner much anyway. Players are also requested to enter and exit the court socially distanced.

The Central Park courts. the crown jewel, have not yet opened due to technical difficulties. Which is to say that technically, they don’t know what they’re doing. The clubhouse and locker rooms will remain closed. The pro shop might sell merchandise online. I have visions of someone tossing cans of tennis balls off their roof, à la Trump and the paper towel debacle in Puerto Rico.

In the end, tennis isn’t really that important, except for the fact that it is the only true test of one’s worth as a human being.

Tennis, anyone?

Mitch Polstein Jr., a native Manhattanite, was the men’s tennis coach at Hunter College in New York City.


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