PROVINCETOWN — The Provincetown Tennis Club members’ tournament is underway this month, and the format looks a little different this year due to coronavirus protocols.
Usually, the tournament would be held over two consecutive weekends, but this year, it’s stretched over the entire month of August. The tournament was spread out in this way to lessen the number of people present at any given time.
“We were not able to do a two-weekend back-to-back tournament or what we did last year, which was round-robin,” said Carlos Terra, co-director of the tournament and vice president of the PTC board of governors. He’s competing in the tournament with his husband, Ray Faulkner.
“This year, the format was, for each round of matches, we have a time frame of eight days in which matches have to be played,” he said.
Players had to set their own schedule of tournament games. The semifinals have been designated to be played from Aug. 16 to 24, and the finals will be played on the weekend of Aug. 29 and 30.
“The protocols that we have in place do not allow congregating, which means people aren’t able to watch,” said Terra, who has worked at the club since 2007.
The format makes the tournament less fan-friendly, but both Terra and Dorothy Zerbst, director of tennis at PTC, said they’d like to set up a virtual viewing of the finals at the end of the month.
“We’re hoping to figure out to how to have a Zoom for spectators,” Zerbst said. “We’ll try and promote some sort of normalcy.”
“If we have someone at the club who’s technologically motivated, it would be fun,” Terra said.
The members’ tournament at the PTC dates back to the 1960s and ’70s.
“There’s an old picture album at the club, and there are black and white pictures of club tournaments,” Terra said.
When club membership began to drop, the tournament was discontinued. But it resurfaced around 2012 and has begun to grow again.
“This year, we have 58 percent of club membership who are participating in at least one division,” Terra said. “Maybe five or six years ago, it was probably just about 30 or so people. Now, we’re close to 52 people.”
Tennis may be seen as a good sport to play after retirement, but Terra said that’s not the only draw.
“We have a few members in their 20s playing in the tournament,” he said. “We’re trying to get a more diverse age population in the club.”
The men’s and women’s divisions both compete in singles and doubles play, and, this year, Zerbst said, there is even an A group and B group in the men’s singles division. She added that everyone has been cooperating with the protocols.
Zerbst moved to the United States from South Africa six years ago. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but this is her first summer here as director of tennis at PTC.
Even in the age of Covid-19, she said her experience teaching private lessons and group clinics at the club has been great. During the pandemic, only four people are allowed to participate in a clinic at one time.
“I must admit, it’s been amazing. I’m loving it,” she said. “We’ve been booked out solidly for the last month and a half. Literally, I’ve been doing eight hours every single day.”
During the members’ tournament, play is friendly between participants in the early stages, but, once they reach the semifinals, it begins to get a little more competitive.
And the ultimate prize for finishing first? The winners have their names engraved in a perpetual trophy that peers out of the window of the clubhouse for all to see. Zerbst said she may even offer an additional trophy to this year’s winners.
For more information about the Provincetown Tennis Club, visit provincetowntennis.org.