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Kahnawake tennis, anyone?

Two tennis courts constructed last fall at the Kahnawake Sports Complex will be opened today (Friday) at noon. The splash pads at the arena were constructed with the courts at the same time. (Courtesy Vanessa Alfred)

Two new tennis courts at the Kahnawake Sports Complex will be open for free use beginning Friday at noon.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) and Kahnawake COVID-19 Task Force confirmed the decision in a press release issued Tuesday morning.

“We’re very excited, it’s the first time we’ve had a lot of interest in the sport,” said Mackenzie Whyte, general manager of MCK recreation. “We’ve had a lot of community members contact me about the sport. People are excited to start something new.”

Whyte says the council took careful consideration of COVID-19 to determine if it was safe to allow tennis in Kahnawake.

“They looked at if you had to interact with someone close and is there a danger of contamination,” she said. “As long as you’re handling your own equipment, there’s no reason for it to not be open.”

Rules will be posted at the tennis courts on Friday to comply with virus-spreading prevention. They include sanitizing all equipment, no physical contact and guidelines on exiting the court properly.

Players are limited to two per court, with a maximum of five people in the facility. An aide or instructor is permitted as part of the restrictions. The rule prevents doubles tennis for now.

“We followed the province’s lead to play doubles,” said Whyte. “You don’t want to take risks.”

The MCK will consider investing more into tennis by evaluating its popularity from on-site assessment and public feedback. Whyte says there is an opportunity for the sport to grow.

“We’re hoping that people develop an interest,” she said. “Some people have inquired about lessons and bringing in a pro (to teach them). We’re a member of Tennis Quebec so we have access to their network.”

The courts were donated by the Onkwata’karitáhtshera agency as a way to introduce new alternative and healthy activities to Kahnawake.

The brand new courts have yet to be used, according to Kenny Kane, Sports Complex manager.

“The tennis court was constructed late last fall and we were told not to activate it,” he said. “These were directions coming from the council and committees.”

Activities were planned for the courts shortly after construction but weather and COVID-19 prevented its opening.

Whyte is excited for tennis being open since it is an alternative outlet for Kahnawake athletes to get physical activity and to open an avenue for solo sports.

“We’re hoping a lot of people do it. We have a lot of gifted athletes and it’s an opportunity to keep up their cardio,” she said. “We want people to be physically active for as long as they can so they can stave off illness and diseases. We thought maybe this is the time for this.”

The courts will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. Outdoor fitness classes were simultaneously approved with tennis from the MCK and Kahnawake COVID-19 Task Force in the press release. Outdoor volleyball games are currently prohibited until further notice.

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