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World Team Tennis to play its July schedule at the Greenbrier, with scattered fans

Sloane Stephens is scheduled to compete during World Team Tennis's three-week season in July. (Dita Alangkara/AP)

World Team Tennis, the co-ed professional league that is typically sandwiched between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, will hold its 2020 season as scheduled but will contest all matches at the Greenbrier, a West Virginia resort, to minimize potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Five hundred spectators — 20 percent of capacity at the resort’s 2,500-seat outdoor stadium — will be allowed to attend the matches, which will run July 12 to Aug. 2. That’s in keeping with West Virginia’s health guidelines for the gradual reopening of businesses, which entered a new phase Tuesday.

In another measure to guard against the virus that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans, the league will forgo the use of linespeople and ball kids at its matches.

WTT officials announced their plans for the 2020 season in a statement Tuesday morning. As a result, Washington won’t host any Kastles matches this summer. While West Virginia is not home to one of the WTT’s nine franchises, the Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, about a four-hour drive southwest of Washington, boasts an outdoor tennis stadium and plans to install an indoor court as a backup, according to the release.

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WTT had an advantage in committing to its full 2020 season because of the number of tennis pros on its rosters who live in the United States or base their summer training here, negating the need for international flights.

The league’s return will give tennis fans a chance to see such top players as world No. 4 Sofia Kenin (Philadelphia Freedoms), 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens (Chicago Smash), Grigor Dimitrov (Orange County Breakers) and double specialists Bob and Mike Bryan (Vegas Rollers) for the first time since the men’s and women’s pro tours were suspended March 9.

CBS will air a regular season match July 19 and the final Aug. 2. CBS Sports Network will carry 13 regular season matches and both semifinals Aug. 1.

The men’s and women’s pro tours won’t resume before July 13, the day after Wimbledon was to have concluded. French Open officials announced earlier that they were postponing the event’s start from May 24 to Sept. 20.

The major question facing the sport is whether the U.S. Open will be held as scheduled in New York, moved to Southern California, postponed or canceled altogether. An announcement is expected in mid- to late June.

According to the statement issued Tuesday, WTT is following protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as directives from state and local officials in setting policy for its resumption at the Greenbrier, which reopened to guests last week.

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The league will conduct “necessary testing and screening” for the coronavirus, the statement noted without elaboration, and outfit participants with personal protective gear. Its health precautions are believed to include daily temperature checks, although details are still being worked out.

Details on ticket sales have not been announced.

Under West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s (R) plan for the gradual reopening of businesses, indoor dining up to 50 percent of a restaurant’s capacity was already permitted, as was the reopening of large specialty retail stores. Tuesday marked the start of a new phase that included the reopening of campgrounds for in-state residents; the reopening of indoor bars at 50 percent capacity; and the reopening of outdoor bars, museums, visitors’ centers and zoos.

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