Tennis with NZ Pro Artem Sitak - Home Advantage with Sky Sport Next
Tennis is the first sport to offer some expert sport coaching tips for lockdown in a new video series from Sky Sport Next, the NZ Sport Collective and Stuff. Watch the video above!
Like nearly all sport across the globe, the tennis world came to a sudden and grinding halt in March with a procession of cancelled or postponed major tournaments, followed by a mandated stop to all professional tour events.
Very quickly the situation enveloped community tennis in New Zealand, when organised sport was put on pause as part of the Covid-19 response. As we adjust to a new world, the confirmation that arguably the sport's most prestigious tournament, Wimbledon has been cancelled for 2020 comes as no surprise, a scenario no-one in the tennis world would have thought possible just weeks ago.
The cessation of tennis means a cessation of income and activity for pro players across the globe. Keeping fit and keeping the skills sharp for the eventual return of tennis is a priority for players, many of whom are facing the longest periods away from the court in their careers.
With time on their hands many players have turned to social media as an outlet. Highlights from the world of tennis social media include Roger Federer hitting trick shots in the snow and Stan Warinka's excellent Instagram feed and his #stayfitstan moniker. The banter between players has been top draw as well, when Stan asked his followers what they were doing to feel better in these strange times, Andy Murray replied "Trolling people on Instagram".
Most of New Zealand's top pros have made their way back home, spending the lockdown period with family and like their compatriots, working on fitness and skills where they can. ATP Pro and NZ Davis Cup player Artem Sitak is domiciled in Auckland and has taken to issuing fitness challenges online to other Kiwi and international players.
Currently ranked 73 in the world for doubles, Sitak, like all tennis pros, is a globe trotter, with a typical season encompassing up to 11 months on the road visiting more than 20 countries. With global travel an unlikely scenario for some months and all tennis pro tour events postponed until at least July it is going to be a while before players get back to their day jobs.
In New Zealand, amongst the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic are the coaches. Most are self-employed, and no tennis means no income. There is no doubt government subsidies have been of great assurance, and the coaching community pulled together quickly to share information and assist each other in making applications for support.
Ultimately though coaches want to coach, and again social media and online content has been their outlet. Tennis NZ has encouraged players, coaches and fans to share content online using the hashtag #homecourtnz. So far we've seen farm tennis, poolside tennis, tennis with cleaning products and, of course, tennis with toilet rolls.
Our content comes from coaches and players locked down in all parts of New Zealand, using innovation and creativity to deliver sessions that can be followed at home with a minimum of equipment or even tennis knowledge.
We'll have pro players taking on challenges and some of our top juniors offering tips and tricks to help improve your game. First up Artem Sitak takes us to his driveway, showcasing his cat-like reflexes with nothing more than his hand, a wall and a ball.
In 2020 there is no Wimbledon, but there are still tennis balls and racquets and a whole host of coaches and players keen to share their knowledge. The courts will still be there when it's time.