Enjoying the Tournament Safely


By Laura Schuster, CIC

Infection Control Officer, Western & Southern Open | Project Manager, Infection Prevention, UC Health


As Infection Control Officer for the Western & Southern Open, the health and safety of the players, staff and spectators is my top priority.  This year, I join a group of clinicians from UC Health, the tournament’s official healthcare provider, who have dedicated their talents for the past several years to doing just that. Together, it is our duty to ensure the tournament is both safe and enjoyable for all involved—even amid a pandemic.

As the region’s academic health system, it is UC Health’s privilege and responsibility to lead our community’s COVID-19 response.

In Greater Cincinnati, vaccination rates are about 50%. While we still have work to do to increase this number, 50% is a start. We are monitoring the rapidly evolving situation in our community, particularly in light of the delta variant. We are following local health department protocols and are prepared to comply with any changing requirements.

Ultimately, it’s up to each of you to prioritize your own safety based on your comfort level and personal risk. It’s important to remember this may differ from the person next to you. 


New Safety Practices

The Western & Southern Open is abiding by protocols from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for players. 

New safe practices we have implemented:

  • Masks will be available on-site if fans would like them. 

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the venue.

  • All tickets to the tournament will be digital with no cash allowed. 

  • Athletes and tour staff are required to wear a mask at the tournament and will be tested when they arrive in Cincinnati. 

  • Western & Southern has modified the environment to ensure safe distancing of the players and staff.

  • The tournament has also implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices. 


Tennis is One of the Safest Spectator Sports

It’s important that we all find ways to cultivate social and emotional wellness through events like the Western & Southern Open, especially during stressful times. We can still have fun and be safe—and a tennis tournament is one of the best ways to do so, for the following reasons.

  • It’s an outdoor event. Viruses have a harder time spreading in well-ventilated spaces. Respiratory illnesses are primarily spread through droplets created when we cough, sneeze, laugh and talk. When we are outside in the constantly moving fresh air, these droplets are dispersed, overall reducing the risk of being exposed to infectious droplets. 
  • Spectators tend to stay seated for longer periods of time. This reduced rate of mingling also helps reduce exposure to any virus. Exposure occurs when an unvaccinated individual is within 6 feet of a positive person for 15 minutes cumulatively over a 24-hour period. 
  • Tennis generates quieter cheering and more clapping. Loud cheering or yelling found at other sporting events can contribute to an increased viral spread. The excess force used to elicit yelling and cheering causes more droplets to spread further around you. 

I can’t wait to see you there.



Laura Schuster, CIC, is the Infection Control Officer for the Western & Southern Open. Applying her expertise in infection control and prevention, Laura partners with the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association to ensure the safety of athletes and spectators alike.