Stansted Tennis Club and Bishop's Stortford Lawn Tennis Club join forces to help members beat the tier 4 travel restriction blues
A smashing piece of festive goodwill means tennis players could get the chance to carry on playing even if the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to force them off court.
Stansted Tennis Club and Bishop's Stortford Lawn Tennis Club have joined forces to allow their members access to each other's facilities in order for them to continue playing without having to leave their tier.
The move came about when Hertfordshire was moved into the new tier 4 restrictions while Uttlesford remained in tier 2.
That news, on the weekend before Christmas, meant Stansted had to send out an email saying its Stortford-based members – 13 families – would not be allowed to play at the club due to the Government's rules on travel. It also meant Stortford members who lived in Uttlesford could not travel to play at their club.
Stansted club secretary Catherine Hodgen came up with the idea of a reciprocal arrangement, meaning both clubs offering temporary memberships to enable members to play at whichever of the club's courts were in their tier.
The subsequent moving of Uttlesford into tier 4 from Boxing Day has meant the plan has to be put on hold for the time being, but it is hoped the scheme will come into its own if or when Hertfordshire and Uttlesford find themselves in different tiers.
"For me, this is an exemplar of how communities can work together in times of real difficulty, find unique solutions and maintain morale," said Stansted chairman James Hogg. "The reaction from members has been overwhelming."
Stortford club manager Natalie Dwyer said: "I was very pleased to hear from James at Stansted proposing a way to enable both of our clubs' members to continue playing tennis whilst under differing tier restrictions.
"BSLTC are always keen to get involved with community projects and we hope that members from both clubs will benefit from this arrangement."
Many of the families were devastated when they heard the news they would not be able to travel to play tennis as the sport has been a lifeline for them during lockdown and under tier restrictions.
Stortford-based Fiona Kelly has been a Stansted member for 10 years, having also been a member there when she grew up in the village in the 1970s and 80s.
Her husband Darren and 16-year-old daughters Daisy and Louise are also members, and they are all hoping to take advantage of the link-up if circumstances allow.
"Tennis has been an absolute godsend this year," said Fiona. "Playing takes your mind off everything else going on, and having that social contact with other people has been brilliant too."