How World TeamTennis Is Preparing for a July Season Amid Pandemic

On this week's Beyond the Baseline Podcast, World TeamTennis CEO Carlos Silva discusses the event's plans to remain safe when it begins on July 12 in West Virginia.
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On this week's Beyond the Baseline podcast, host Jon Wertheim talks with World TeamTennis CEO Carlos Silva. A former player and longtime media executive, Silva discusses the 2020 World TeamTennis season and the health and safety protocols in place; what it's like to stage an event amid the coronavirus pandemic; where the league fits into the tennis calendar as a whole; Silva's experience with the sport as a former player; and much more.

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Jon Wertheim: I think other sports are gonna be looking at this as a real sort of canary in the coal mine, to use a West Virginia analogy. Whether it's the U.S. Open or whether it's Orlando and this NBA bubble, do you feel pressure to sort of do this right for World TeamTennis, but also, I suspect a lot of other sports outlets are going to be looking at this.

Carlos Silva: Yes, we do feel pressure. I mean, and I think you're right. I don't think it's just tennis. I think it's sport. I've found that over the last three months, everyone's been very collegial, whether we're on White House calls or whether we were all together. I mean, I talked to Jay Monahan about a month ago before before their season started because they were going to go to Texas. And he gave me some great feedback on what they were doing with testing. And so, yeah, we do, we're trying to be very diligent. And we're also trying every day to make sure that what we're doing, we're still analyzing it every day. As I've told my team and we've told the players, until August 2nd, when someone raises the King trophy, we've got to be diligent every day.

So we've even made a few adjustments, as you know. We're gonna have up to 500 fans in the stadium that holds twenty five hundred. And originally, those fans were only required to have a temperature check. But about five days ago, before everything got a little crazy over the last five days, we decided that we would add masks in for the fans as well. And so all the fans will also have masks in the stadium. And the way we thought about that is you can always take the masks down if things feel better, but better to be a little safer. So, yeah, there is there's definitely a little pressure, but I think we're up for it. And I think we're going to show everyone how we can be safe and be operationally smart every day.

JW: And so 500 fans as of today is the number you're working with?

CS: It is, yeah. And what we've got. I don't know if you've ever been to that stadium, but it's a great little horseshoe stadium around the court with a lower bowl and an upper bowl. And so you'll either buy a lower bowl, general admission ticket or upper bowl general admission ticket, and then every other row is blocked and then the ushers will social distance when you come into the stadium. So if you came, Jon, with your family, you'd be able to sit with your family. But if I came with my family, we'd sit together, but I wouldn't be able to sit next to your family. We'd be six feet away or so. And so that works. And then we'd all have masks in the stands.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.