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WTT Season: Non-Stop Tennis, Masks and Players as Ball Crew

Coronavirus stopped sport.

World TeamTennis brings the game back in a big way starting Sunday.

More: Clijsters on Comeback Keys

The 45th WTT season starts on Sunday t The Greenbrier “America’s Resort” in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Here's a look at some of World TeamTennis' safety protocols and plans for the 2020 season in this Coronavirus climate.

Tennis Express

Coronavirus testing: The league says "WTT personnel (all WTT staff, players, coaches and their traveling parties) will stay at The Greenbrier and will be tested within five days of arriving at The Greenbrier and must produce a negative test before entering the grounds."

Upon initial arrival at The Greenbrier, all WTT personnel will be tested again at The Greenbrier Clinic. On the weekend of July 17-19th, all WTT personnel will be given a third COVID-19 test at The Greenbrier Clinic. WTT says it "reserves the right to add additional testing as needed. In addition, every morning of the tournament, a temperature check will be conducted. Any person who has a temperature reading at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will not be allowed to participate in WTT activities or enter WTT facilities until a COVID-19 negative test result is received."

Players and Coaches: 60 men and women players and 20 coaches are expected to participate in the season. Additionally, 30 WTT Staff and 65 Production/Operations Staffers/Medical Personnel will be on site.

Season: The 2020 season will showcase a 63-match regular season over 19 consecutive days from July 12-30th, with the WTT Playoffs to follow on August 1st (WTT Semifinals) and August 2nd (WTT Final). The top four teams from WTT’s regular season standings will advance to the WTT Playoffs. This season, WTT has increased its prize money to a record $5 million and an added $1,000,000 awarded in WTT Playoffs compensation, including a $500,000 bonus to the team hoisting the King Trophy on August 2nd.

Stars: Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Sofia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, Sam Querrey and the Bryan brothers are among the pros committed to competing. 

Coverage: The entire 63-match regular season will either be televised or live-streamed on CBS, CBS Sports Network, the CBS Sports app, Tennis Channel, ESPN+ or Facebook Watch.

On Court: WTT will only have the two teams with up to six players per team on the court at a time along with one chair umpire. Hawkeye’s automated line calling system will be used to eliminate extra officials on court. No high-fives or handshakes will be permitted. All players will be socially distanced at least six feet apart and will be required to wear a face covering/mask while on the sidelines.

Ball Kids: No ball kids will be present. Players will pick up their own balls or teammates, who will be required to wear masks, can serve as ball kids. "It’s kind of interesting and could be fun in a time when things aren’t always that fun this year," WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. "It could be great having the Bryan Brothers being ball kids for Sam Querrey when he’s playing."

Fans: Every fan will be required to pass a temperature check of 100.4 degrees and be required to wear a mask before entering the grounds. World TeamTennis’ outdoor matches will be held at The Greenbrier’s 2,500-seat stadium, Center Court at Creekside, with up to 500 fans (20 percent capacity). All fans will be temperature-checked a second time before entering Center Court at Creekside and will be denied entry should they fail the temperature check. Fans will be seated together by family/arriving party and socially distanced a minimum of six feet apart.

"We made a decision that we would make all fans also have to wear masks,:" Silva said. "That is a requirement to enter the stadium. Someone might have a drink, someone might eat a hot dog, again you have to do that without a mask, but then when you are done with that you would put your mask back on. If someone doesn’t want to wear a mask, that’s okay, they don’t have to come into the stadium. If they want a refund on their ticket, we would be happy to give them a refund."

Chest Bumps: Prohibited, but wil the chest-bump champions of the world, Mike and Bob Bryan, still deliver the flying rib-rocking celebration? "The only one that might be tough would be the Bryan Brothers, who celebrate a lot and do chest bumps," Silva said. "We’re going to ask them not to do that. I can’t guarantee they won’t do it out of habit doing it for 25 years, but we are telling everyone not to do that. We’re trying to be smart, practical in a simple way, and we’ll be going through this with all of the players when they arrive as well."

Photo credit: World TeamTennis Facebook