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By Chris Oddo: May 11, 2020
If a tweener gets hit in the middle of nowhere, Florida, will anybody see it? Apparently the answer is yes.

It was nice to take in this bit of bedazzling stickwork from Hubert Hurkacz (see below) at the UTR Pro Series Exhibition, even if it had to happen without the thunderous applause that would normally accompany such an impressive piece of between-the-wickets handiwork. Nevertheless, Hurkacz’s tweener winner, much like Dustin Brown’s from last weekend in Germany, served to put smiles on our collective dials, and in their own way the two events functioned as a symbol of a subtle change in the status of tennis. The sport is finding its footing and easing out of this dreary quarantine period with a carefully calculated pivot to tennis sans spectators.

Most excellent, wouldn’t you say? It may not be what we had hoped for when 2020 started (The tours should be in Rome right now, with the Road to Roland Garros in full swing and the fans piling into the Foro Italico ready to scream their lungs out for their faves), but at the very least this weekend’s latest experimental exhibition is a tiny step back to normalcy; even better, for the sake of all of us, tennis’ first move is being made cautiously, with respect for the players and everyone involved in the sport.

Yes, it may take a little getting used to seeing Dustin Brown raise him arms triumphantly to encourage an imaginary—cue the deadest silence ever—crowd to pay him the respect that’s due after his latest work of trick-shot artistry.

And it may be weird seeing players tap rackets instead of shaking hands after hard-fought battles.

But we’ve got tennis—it’s a start.



#Dreddolin🔮 @Exo_Tennis @Hydrogen_Official💀 @HeadTennis_Official🎾

A post shared by 🇩🇪Dustin "Dreddy" Brown🇯🇲 (@dreddy_ja) on

Unfortunately the cause for celebration is muted by the reality. These spectator-less competitions serve as a reminder of the difficult times we are living in (not that we needed one). Like a baseliner with a devastating forehand that can keep an opponent on defense all day, Coronavirus is still very much dictating the terms of our lives—and it’s a sad reality that probably isn’t going to change for a while. But that doesn’t mean that these last few weeks of tennis can’t also be cause for celebration. They should be interpreted for what they are: a step in the right direction, and a symbol of the resilience of tennis.

Also: A reminder of how much we love the game, its personalities and its capacity to dazzle.

It’s beautiful in on many levels that the sport has popped up and is starting to swim into our consciousness again. It ain’t the Internazionali BNL d’Italia but it’s something, and that’s enough for now

Scoring at home? Reilly Opelka took home this weekend's title in West Palm Beach. Yannick Hanfmann won the Tennis Point Exhibition Series in Germany.