In conversation with Emilio Sánchez Vicario on tennis' road ahead

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In conversation with Emilio Sánchez Vicario on tennis' road ahead

This is the first part of TennisWorld USA's exclusive interview with Emilio Sánchez Vicario There are times when one feels like they are rooted in one spot and things around them seem to be moving at a frenetic pace.

One has to go somewhere but they don’t know how to proceed. It seems as though one is isolated even as they are one among the crowd. Currently, in tennisdom, caught in the swell of the pandemic as it is, it’s perhaps tennis pros who are having bear the brunt of life passing by them, without knowing what is going to happen next.

Entertaining – and informative – Q&A sessions with fans on social media channels, videos about their at-home training sessions and the challenges that follow, and virtual tournaments have become commonplace for the players since the tour shut down in March.

In this normalcy to which they have had to get accustomed, the normality that had been their professional life, up to the first three months of the year, has ostensibly blurred. In Emilio Sánchez Vicario’s opinion, reconciling these two normalcies could be difficult, when the tour resumed.

Speaking with TennisWorld USA, the former player-turned-coach observed that the lack of tournaments has created a scenario that no one knows how to address, given the lack of precedents. “No one knows how this can affect for the rest of the year even if they will start to play because the people will need some tournaments to get in shape, to be able to compete, (and) to get in shape to compete in the big tournaments,” he said, “So, this is going to be a completely new thing that we are living on.

No one knows when this is going to finish”. This uncertainty surrounding the finish line clouds the continuity of the sport as it had been until a couple of months ago. Although it has remained unsaid, it has not been out of one’s thoughts that once the tennis tour restarts – if it does so – on 13th July, even the most routine activity will undergo a shift.

For all that tennis is a non-contact sport on-court, players do have off-court activities that necessitate mingling and in turn, some form of physical contact. Cutting down on these – especially the former, with the sport’s bodies mulling about having tournaments without on-site fan attendance – will help mitigate worries about the pandemic’s spread intensifying further.

However, it does not resolve the aspect of travelling – the axis around which a tennis pro’s life revolves. Away from tennis, international travellers have been required to quarantine themselves for 14 days – for the duration of the said incubation period of the virus – as a security measure to see if they have the virus and in case, they do have symptoms, to prevent community transmission.

This same self-isolation principle would, then, apply to the tennis players. And, the co-founder of the Sánchez-Casal Academy, pointed out that travelling in the immediate aftermath following this lockdown will be unimaginable without the fortnightly isolation.

“The 14-day quarantine to wait to see if you are sick or not or if you have the virus or not is going to be part of our lives for the next months. Unfortunately, that 14-day quarantine for the staff, for the public, (and) for those who fly around the world is going to be a big challenge even for the players and the teams,” elaborated the former doubles no.

1, while also enumerating that in order to adhere to the 14-day norms and play thereafter, a player would need to reach a tournament venue at least 14 days before its start. In Sánchez Vicario’s mind, the broader extent of these restrictions for tennis’ short-term future is not only two-fold but also inter-related.

“This is a very important moment for the players to build-up and to be in shape, to be able to compete, and to be the best they can be. But now no one is playing. This has never happened before in this extreme that is no tournaments,” he put forth, adding, “We are very, very tight on time to really be able to compete in the summer.

So, we have to see how it really goes. Hopefully, they find remedies to be able to stop this bleeding from this virus…”