MIDDLETOWN, NJ – When Governor Phil Murphy announced private tennis courts would be allowed to open, few understood why tennis was singled out, but Joseph Rullo, one of Murphy’s opponents in the 2017 gubernatorial election said he has a good idea. Rullo suggests that Murphy was called out by the commercial tennis community after the courts in his own hometown opened on May 1st. Two weeks ago, in Middletown, where Governor Phil Murphy lives, the town council announced the reopening of their municipal tennis courts. When word got out that Murphy’s hometown had opened tennis courts, tennis aficionados and private tennis court operators cried foul. Like most other activities in New Jersey, there were glaring inconsistencies.
Why can Phil Murphy’s hometown mayor open their tennis courts, but private businesses were not allowed. Knowing the political pickle he found himself in his own town, Murphy did what any politician would do…he found a way out of it. It wasn’t based on science or medicine. A search of medical papers found no studies linking or dismissing the risk of contracting COVID-19 on the tennis court. Murphy’s decision to open tennis courts was to appease the commercial court operators and help him out of a jam in Middletown.
“The Township of Middletown will start to phase in the opening of tennis courts and fields to the public beginning Friday, May 1. They will be open for recreational use provided the community practices safe social distancing and adheres to the following guidelines,” the township announced in April.
When word spread through the tennis world that Murphy’s home courts were open and operating, the tennis community’s feathers were rightfully ruffled. Monmouth County has several privately owned commercial tennis courts. Murphy gave in, realizing that the business owners were right. COVID-19 has just as much chance of striking a tennis court in a public park as it does a tennis court owned by a private entity.