As a member of Sportime of NY, I would like to express my appreciation for the wonderful transition from outdoor tennis during the summer months to playing inside now that fall has started. I captain 2 contracts and there was much concern about being safe indoors. My job was made much easier by the wonderful communication from the leadership of Sportime on all the precautions that were going to be taken and I was able to pass that on to the rest of my league members. Being up front with continued communication from the leadership has helped us to make a more comfortable transition to being inside. We are blessed with a new filtered water dispenser, plenty of hand sanitizer everywhere, a wonderful cleaning crew and our managing staff at Schenectady who is always there for us. With the up tick in cases in all of the US, it is reassuring to know that all of the staff at Sportime is on top of all the precautions that are necessary to be taken. We have all enjoyed this wonderful outlet to play tennis, socialize in the proper way and have some good laughs along the way. Outlets are few these days so we truly treasure the wonderful time we have playing tennis and will never take it for granted again.
I, and my cohort of older tennis hackers, have been concerned about the safety of playing during the COVID pandemic. The physical and mental health benefits of playing tennis are obvious but what about the current risks? For outside play over the spring and summer, Sportime instituted off-court mask wearing, social distancing and hand cleaning protocols as well as discouraging mingling by removing tables and chairs. We cooperated by keeping our bags separate on the court and replacing fist-bumps with racket-taps.
All good but then came the winter. To play inside or not? Besides the continuation of the outside protocols, Sportime instituted personal temperature measurements on entering the building as well as upgraded air handling systems to ensure adequate air exchange and filtering. However, I’m an engineer and wanted to test the efficacy of the air handling system before committing to playing indoors. It’s very difficult to measure air exchange in a huge enclosed space but I learned that HVAC engineers use Carbon Dioxide levels as a proxy measurement. We all exhale CO2 so a comparison of CO2 levels outside to those inside when all courts are active is a good measure of the efficacy of the air exchange system.
This is where the engineer bit comes in. I bought an accurate hand-held CO2 device (EXTECH CO250) and have been measuring outside/inside CO2 levels for a month. CO2 levels are measured in parts per million (ppm). According to The Engineering Toolbox (https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/co2-comfort-level-d_1024.html) normal outdoor CO2 levels are 350-450 ppm, acceptable levels are less than 600m ppm, complaints of stiffness and odors occur at 600-1000 ppm and ASHRAE/OSHA standards are 1000 ppm. I’ve been measuring 450-500 ppm in the parking lot of Schenectady Sportime and 500-550 ppm inside when all of the courts have been occupied. It gets a little chilly on Court 1 with the fans blowing but that is OK. The upshot is that the Schenectady Sportime air exchange system is effective in making the inside air quality almost the same as the outside air quality. As reference, the current CO2 levels in my home with two adults and a dog is 600-750 ppm, and one breath on the sensor sends the level above 3500 ppm. All of this together with the normal protocols ease my concerns.
Obviously, we all need to make our own risk/benefit decision. I’ve made mine thanks to Sportime and can get back to making fantastic backhand passing shots down the line.