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"Based on the recommendations of the USTA COVID-19 Advisory Group, the USTA believes that it is in the best interest of society to take a collective pause from playing the sport we love," the United States Tennis Association said in a statement on Friday.

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"Although there are no specific studies on tennis and COVID-19, medical advisors believe there is the possibility that the virus responsible for COVID-19 could be transmitted through common sharing and handling of tennis balls, gate handles, benches, net posts and even court surfaces."

The governing body encouraged everyone to stay active and healthy with at-home exercise and creative "tennis-at-home" variations. (Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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