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TENNIS

VIDEO: Watch Italian kids play tennis across the rooftops under lockdown

Tennis players, like athletes everywhere, are finding inventive ways to train with courts closed and contact banned, but two youngsters in Italy have taken it to a higher level: the roof.

VIDEO: Watch Italian kids play tennis across the rooftops under lockdown
Vittoria and Carola hit a rally across the rooftops in Finale Liguria, northern Italy. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

When the tennis club in Finale Ligure, a small town in northern Italy, closed at the beginning of March, as part of Italy's fight against the coronavirus pandemic, its coaches challenged their young players to find inventive ways to keep training and to film themselves doing it.

The result is a series of videos posted on the Tennisclub Finale Facebook page. They showed youngsters practising their strokes with or without rackets or, in one case, with a long handled broom.

Several show players hitting balls against walls in the street or in parking lots or even in their bedroom or the family living room, with the wide-screen television positioned ominously close to the apex of the forehand swing.


Carola Pessina practices in her stairway. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The videos resembled many others being posted on social media under the #tennisathome hashtag, but one stood out, catching the attention of the ATP and tennis players and fans around the world.

Vittoria, 14, and Carola, 11, climbed onto the rooftop terraces of their buildings, which face each other across the street.

There they lofted shots over the guard rails and the road, running round not only their backhands but also boiler vents as the ball bounced, not on the clay they are used to but on concrete slabs.

 
“It was their idea. They know each other well, they're friends and they live in neighbouring buildings,” their coach Dionisio Poggi, told AFP.

“They are not the same age, so they don't train in the same group and don't play in the same category. But they are both strong and play competitively,” the coach said.

“Carola, who is 11, is in the top two or three in the region in her age group.”

Carola serves to Vittoria from her building across the street. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Tracy Austin, a former world number one who built her game on hitting long, retweeted the video.

“This is next level #TennisAtHome! I don't think this can be topped. Keep the ball deep.”

Men's world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas was also impressed. “Really nice to see,” tweeted the Greek star.


Vittoria Olivieri collects fallen tennis balls using a fishing rod. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Vittoria and Carola are enjoying the attention.

“The girls saw that it was getting bigger. They're overjoyed,” said coach concluded.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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