Tennis professionals play exhibition event in Germany despite coronavirus

DUSSELDORF: There were no spectators, no line judges, no balls, no handshake after the game on the net, like an exhibition. tennis The event started in Germany on Friday with professional players, a rare instance of live televised sports taking place during the coronavirus pandemic .

Only three men participated in each competition for what will be a four-day event at an academy near the small town of Hohr-Grenzhausen: two players, who sat on opposite sides of the covered clay court, and a chair judge .

"I like working with the crowd. I like having the energy on the court. There's people watching, they get pumped, so that gives me a lot of energy and makes the thing more fun. ... It's kind of hard that it's gone completely,'' Florian Broska, who plays college tennis at Mississippi State, told The Associated Press after his opening match Friday. "So I'm trying to get my own energy, but obviously it's not the same."

With the men's and women's pro tennis tours suspended at least until mid-July because of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is not much of a chance for players to play the sport or for fans to watch it. But this mini-tournament with a round-robin format and an eight-man field -- Dustin Brown, who upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2015, is the biggest name -- is among a growing number of unsanctioned competitions dotting the tennis calendar.

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At the tennis exhibition, players wear masks when they aren't on court, minimize contact with others and, as Broska noted, there is "hand sanitizer everywhere."

As they wait to play, they watch games through a window in the venue's bar area as they sit in what Broska called boxes, individual areas separated by dividers.

Unmanned television cameras are placed in fixed positions.

On the court, nothing really changes. At least, that's what I should say to myself. When you're on the court and you see the cameras at first, you think, 'Oh, shoot. Something is happening, said Broska, who lives near the site.

U.S. college tennis doesn't offer ranking points, making it hard for players to make their mark internationally. Broska said he isn't being paid for the tournament, unlike his opponents, so he can retain his college eligibility.

"This is to show people that I can play tennis at that level," Broska said, "even if I don't have the ranking or the results that these guys have."

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