Tennis courts

Petition to turn on the lights of Mecklenburg County tennis courts

“I don’t think COVID is more dangerous at night than during the day,” Terri Sanz said

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC – A petition to turn on tennis lights in Mecklenburg County public parks reached 1,000 signatures in one week, with tennis players not understanding why tennis can be played during the day but not the night.

A Charlotte-area tennis league said it didn’t think it was adding more risk because it was dark, and thinks the petition highlights the community’s frustration.

“People are upset about this,” said Terri Sanz, who heads the Terri’s Tennis Ladder tennis league.

Sanz has said for the moment that they can only play as long as they have daylight because the county has kept the court lights off at night due to the pandemic.

“I don’t think COVID is more dangerous at night than during the day,” Sanz said. “Unfortunately, people who go to school or to work, the only time they can play is at night.”

Tennis players say it makes the courts more crowded during the day.

“It can get quite crowded here on the weekends so if you open those hours you have less people here at times,” said Kate, tennis player at Marion Diehl Park.

Sanz said that not only is the standard inconsistent across tennis, it is also inconsistent in other sports.

“Other tennis clubs use their lights, but I guess the public just can’t use the public courts,” Sanz said. “We saw people playing football on lighted soccer fields and tons of people there, it’s confusing to people. People don’t know, they only see one facility and they’re like: ‘It’s getting dark in here and I can’t finish my game, and everyone is here playing football.’ “

That’s why Sanz started a petition to get the lights back on. He won 1,000 signatures in a week.

“If we couldn’t do it safely, we wouldn’t be doing it,” Sanz said.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said that ultimately the directive was a county decision designed to keep people at home and limit exposure outside.

“The county decided that meant keeping those lights off on all courts in all areas that belonged to the county,” Harris said.

Sanz said she doesn’t believe tennis players are causing spikes in COVID, but Harris said the directive will remain in place until February 28.

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