By Beatrice Kahn
The public-use tennis courts managed by Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District (THPRD) need to be reopened in the month of May. With the circumstances of the coronavirus, THPRD has locked all tennis courts, including my local Mitchell Park. My family has congregated at Mitchell Park for my entire life—sixteen years. I urge THPRD to unlock the courts to promote outdoor exercise and community well-being as soon as May.
Starting at the age of three, I have played tennis with my twin sister, Eleanor. We walk to Mitchell Park, often encountering neighbors who refer to us as the “tennis players.” Between the two of us, tennis is an outlet for our emotions and physical strains. We play in the rain, in the dark, and even in the winter. We would play today if the courts at Mitchell Park were not padlocked. During the outbreak, we have resorted to playing tennis in the streets. In the flat street by our house, we take a tennis ball and hit it over an invisible net. Passerbys acknowledge the locked courts, and as one woman put it, “Too bad the courts are locked.”
There is no doubt that the coronavirus is a serious health concern around the world. Countless gyms have been forced to close because of those very concerns. But the public use tennis courts managed by THPRD are outside. There are six feet between one player and another. My family, and many others, take advantage of the well-managed tennis courts. From my thirteen years on Mitchell Park’s courts, the people playing with and against each other are family members. The social distancing protocol need not apply to family members—we eat and interact with each other well within six feet.
We go to the grocery store to gather our essential items. Isn’t our physical and mental health essential, too? THPRD, open your courts in May to guarantee our well-being.
Photo by Anouk Clendenning. The tennis courts at Mitchell Park are locked with a notice nearby notifying community members of the closure.