Since 1899, the Manitoba Championship Cup has been awarded on an annual basis.

Unfortunately, that streak has come to an end as the Manitoba Open trophy will not have a name engraved on it in 2020. The Manitoba Open was supposed to kick off several weeks ago at the Kildonan Tennis Club but the event, as well as over a dozen other Tennis Manitoba (TMB) tournaments, have been erased from this summer’s calendar owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but TMB president Mohamed Ismath said it’s the right call in order to keep everyone safe.

“For us as an organization, it’s very disappointing to not have tournaments. We’re saddened by what’s happening across the world,” said Ismath.

“We’ve been talking with the executive committee, as well as the executive directors of our member clubs. The majority of our member clubs aren’t interested in hosting tournaments at this point in time due to COVID and I don’t blame them because lately, the number of (local) cases are going up… It’s very difficult for the member clubs to take the risk. That’s why we have to cancel the Manitoba Open and cancel other tournaments. Hopefully, the situation gets better and we find a vaccine and move forward.”

The focus is now on potentially having a sanctioned indoor tournament in the fall/winter, but there’s no guarantee.

“We’re hoping to do everything in our power to make sure the tennis community plays tennis. However, we have to believe in science and listen to what the health authorities suggest… We’re hoping the cases get reduced and we can move on and get back to the regular lifestyle,” Ismath said.

Without tournaments, Ismath hopes players still find ways to stay connected and bond over their love of tennis. While the summer didn’t go according to plan, it wasn’t a total lost cause as local courts have been busier than ever.

“It’s a positive sign that the community has chosen to play tennis because they can maintain some kind of social distancing and we’re happy about that. However in saying that, we want all community members to be safe and careful when they get onto the courts,” said Ismath.