Tennis courts will be closed to the public when the new coronavirus lockdown restrictions are enforced from Thursday, meaning amateurs will not be allowed to play the sport until further notice.
The easing of restriction on 13 May allowed the sport to resume after the initial lockdown period, with outdoor courts the first to reopen before indoor courts were permitted to be used.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that new restrictions will come into force from Thursday morning due to the rapidly growing number of coronavirus deaths and cases, which surpassed one million at the weekend.
As a result, leisure centres, gyms and sports facilities including swimming pools and tennis courts have been ordered to close their doors from Thursday, and will not be open again until 2 December at the earliest due to the four-week lockdown.
It means you cannot play tennis for the next month even with people in your household, which virtually rules all forms of recreational tennis not allowed until the restrictions have been eased.
The only tennis that will be allowed to go ahead is at elite level, with the ATP Finals in London set to go ahead behind closed doors between 15-22 November at the O2 Arena.
Tennis authorities are not happy with the decision though. The Lawn Tennis Association has called on the Government to allow outdoor tennis to continue given the new guidance around exercise and recreation, as well as calling for a sports recovery fund.
Under the restrictions announced by Boris Johnson, individuals are “encouraged to go outside for exercise” and are also allowed to meet with one person from another household as long as social distancing is maintained.
LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said in a statement: “These measures will once again present huge challenges for tennis venues, coaches and players up and down the country who, like many others, will have already had an incredibly hard year.
“Tennis is a safe, socially distant sport with the net acting as a natural barrier, and as such there is very low risk in terms of transmission of the virus.
“We believe if adults are allowed to meet someone else from their household for a socially distanced walk or conversation, they should be able to play tennis against each other from either side of a net.
“Keeping people as active as possible can play a key role in how we tackle the coronavirus. The next few weeks are undoubtedly going to be difficult for many people across the country and so the more we can do to maintain access to sport and encourage healthy lifestyles the better.”
Discussions are taking place between the government, Public Health England and the LTA about the prospect of tennis being allowed to take place during the second lockdown period, though it is uncertain if the LTA has successfully lobbied for any reprieve for the sport.