Tennis pros back on court for first matches since March

SHOWS: HOEHR-GRENZHAUSEN, GERMANY (MAY 3, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. MATCH UNDERWAY

2. UMPIRE

3. PLAYERS WALKING ON TO COURT

4. TENNIS BALL ON GROUND

5. MATCH UNDERWAY

6. SPECTATOR WATCHING THROUGH WINDOW

7. VARIOUS OF MATCH

8. VARIOUS OF SPOKESMAN FOR PARTNER COMPANY PLAYSIGHT CHRISTIAN KLAPTHOR WATCHING

9. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR PARTNER COMPANY PLAYSIGHT, CHRISTIAN KLAPTHOR, SAYING:

"We had contact with the players through our network. They couldn't do their job over the last few weeks. They were unemployed, with nothing to do, they were sitting at home and everyone was waiting for things to start up again. Then we had to contact the authorities to ask what was possible."

10. VARIOUS OF PLAYER SITTING IN SEPARATE INDIVIDUAL AREA

11. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR PARTNER COMPANY PLAYSIGHT, CHRISTIAN KLAPTHOR, SAYING:

"We have special rules on the court of course. There are no handshakes and the players don't get close to one another, even after the match when normally they would congratulate each another. They greet each other from across the net. The umpire keeps a distance from both of them, for example during the coin toss where the three people would normally stand close together. All that is avoided on the court. And off court we have made little lodges where the players are alone, they only have their own equipment, their own drinks - all the food is packaged, nothing is prepared fresh."

12. UMPIRE

13. PLAYER DRINKING WATER

14. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR PARTNER COMPANY PLAYSIGHT, CHRISTIAN KLAPTHOR, SAYING

"You can hear a pin drop. The hall is completely quiet. The umpire sits there and doesn't need a microphone, speaking normally is enough. The balls are unbelievably loud compared to normal tennis. You can almost hear the birds outside singing while you're playing tennis inside."

15. CHOINSKI PLAYING

16. CHOINSKI WINNING MATCH POINT

17. (SOUNDBITE) (German) PLAYER, JAN CHOINSKI, SAYING.

"Of course it's a difficult time. We have no income this year. For me, my main earnings come from the (Tennis) Bundesliga which has been completely cancelled so all that income is gone. Nevertheless, as a professional athlete at number 200 or 300 in the world, you have to stay fit because when it starts up again you have to be ready to get straight back into it."

18. CHOINSKI BEING INTERVIEWED

19. (SOUNDBITE) (German) PLAYER, JAN CHOINSKI, SAYING.

"For me personally it doesn't make that much difference whether there are people watching or not. I am always concentrating on my own game anyway, concentrating on my shots and what I want to do on court. Everything going on around me doesn't bother me so much."

20. CHOINSKI RETURNING SHOT

STORY: Live professional tennis returned this weekend with the Tennis Point Exhibition Series event staged near Koblenz in Germany.

The four-day event began on Friday (May 1) with the first professional matches played since the sport was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ATP and WTA Tours remain suspended until mid-July at the earliest, but the event, the first of three that will form the Exo Tennis Series, has at least offered the chance of some competitive action.

No spectators, line judges or ball boys are allowed and handshakes after match point are forbidden. Players are not allowed to have coaches on site, or even take a shower.

Players arrive alone and have their own designated space in the venue to prepare. Once on court they sit at opposite sides during the changeovers.

Matches on the indoor claycourt are played over a short format, first to four games and no advantage scoring.

The winner's cheque is less than 1,000 euros ($1,097) and catering is basic too, consisting of pre-wrapped sandwiches and energy bars.

The tournament is being streamed live by the Tennis Channel's new Over-the-Top (OTT) platform - Tennis Channel International or via Tennis Channel's website http://www.tennischanneleverywhere.com.

After the conclusion of the eight-man round-robin group, a series of playoffs will be contested on Monday (May 4) to decide the standings. The next Exo Tennis event starts on May 7.

(Production: Andi Kranz, Petra Wischgoll, Katie Stephens)

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