SPORT may have ground to a halt around the globe since the coronavirus struck, but Novocastrians seeking an outlet for their pent-up frustration can still get a game of tennis.
While the vast majority of codes have been shut down, tennis has been able to proceed, albeit with strict health-and-safety protocols in place.
After Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday a new phase of restrictions to limit the rampant spread of the pandemic, both Tennis NSW and Tennis Australia sought clarification about whether they could continue.
The feedback they received from the State Emergency Operation Centre, local governments and the Office of Sport was that "there is no requirement to close outdoor public recreation facilities, [including] tennis courts".
Newcastle and District Tennis Association president Ellen Gordon was hopeful that by being allowed to continue playing, it would help provide some "normality" in people's live during a time of unprecedented stress.
"We're going to keep going and see what happens," Gordon said.
"It's obviously very difficult times, but I think we're providing something positive for the community.
We're providing something positive for the community.ELLEN GORDON
"There have been some negative comments about us not being an essential service and we should close down.
"Well, tennis employs people and do we want them to have to join the dole lines? If we can avoid that, isn't it a good thing."
Tennis NSW reiterated those sentiments in a statement: "The future of our sport is now in our hands. We must band together as a tennis family to adhere to the guidelines that have been put in place to ensure we can keep our courts open for the well-being of the community and our sport."
Topspin Tennis director of coaching Richard Nicholls, who manages the District Park complex, said junior coaching clinics had been put on hold but private lessons were an alternative. Senior competitions were still running most nights and social courts were available.
"We've got about 70 players here each night during the week," Nicholls said, adding that precautions were in place to limit the risk of transmitting infection.
"We've had to modify everything," he said.
"Our comp players get sent a text message telling them what court they're on, and the balls are left out for them before they arrive.
"They pay over the phone with Eftpos. They're practising all the social distancing, and we've got hand sanitisers out for everyone."
Nicholls said tennis "ticks a lot of boxes, in the current climate" as an exercise option.
District Park is open on weekdays from 9am to 9pm, and on weekends from 9am until 6pm.