The merited tennis coach of Russia and the director of the Children’s Tennis Sports School “Belokamennaya” Vladimir Kamelzon talked about keeping sanity during self-isolation while being 82 and very active.
How are you?
Same as everyone, I am no different from others. (Laughs)
Are you self-isolating?
Of course. There is no other way. Our tennis school is temporarily closed. We are waiting to see how everything develops. We have even stopped preparing courts for the summer season. Everything is shut down. I cannot think of anything to change this situation. There is an official ban issued by the government.
What do you do to entertain yourself?
(Laughs) First of all, I have a dog. Also, I come from the field of physical culture and sports, so, I know how to keep myself occupied. Above all that, I have a couple of books I want to read. I educate myself a little: restore things I’ve forgotten, learn something new. We all have things to do. The toughest part for people like me is not doing anything at all.
Can you recommend a book?
To be honest, all the books I’ve read recently were rather primitive. There isn’t anything like Don Quixote, where you are inspired by the character’s heroism. So, you played, you were a boy and then became an outstanding tennis player. Can’t really recommend.
What is a good plan of action for tennis pros right now? They are going to get out of shape without competing. And no one knows when it ends.
Professional players can provide for themselves. At least, financially. What about us – ordinary people? We are the ones who are going to run out of money.
What about the kids? How can young players train at home?
You can’t really play tennis in your apartment. The chandeliers will suffer, and everything else too. Still, there is a number of special exercises they can do. Where can they find those? Well, someone would have to create special programs for different age groups, produce videos, make online streams. We would need recommendations on what you can do in the small space of your apartment. Not many people could do all that. No one cares. As for me, I might like to do that, but I can’t, because I can’t leave home, and I am too old for making videos.
For how long have you been staying inside?
Since they issued the decree.
You can still walk your dog?
Within 100 m from my building.
What kind of dog do you have?
A Pomeranian. A unique dog. A symbol of the Russian Tennis Federation. It is on all the photos! I cannot trust anyone with this dog. Even my wife! (Laughs) I walk and feed it myself. It is 12 already, its dad is the world’s champion for their breed. It is my child, and I can’t leave it with anyone else. At the same time, I am older than 65 and cannot go further than 100 m from my house, or they are going to fine me. It is a complicated situation.
So, what do you do?
You’ve talked about the problem that tennis children are facing. But it is not just about tennis. What are other kids supposed to do? Those who play football or do fencing? What are the fencers going to practice on? Their families? (Laughs)
Kids are supposed to be active, they have so much energy.
This is a problem. I used to go to a swimming pool close to our summer courts, but it was closed. Then my school was closed. Then the 1 of May Park was closed too. The new regulations, the self-isolation. This situation is not easy. Especially for tennis. What can kids do at home? Squats, push-ups, maybe a jumping rope. But then, after self-isolation it is still not going to be easy.
Many people are struggling financially right now. You think, everyone will rush their kids to tennis schools when this is all over? You have to pay for those. So, we are all facing a very difficult situation. My school is private-owned, I have to pay rent, coaches and staff salaries. This is why I am really hoping for the support from the national and municipal authorities.