Reprinted from USTA Texas Section News:
There are three organizations throughout Texas that have given LGBT members an outlet to be themselves while playing the sport of tennis. These organizations meet to play the sport, but it’s more than that. They not only spread acceptance within the sport but provide help for outside organizations.
The organizations, some of which have been running for over 20 years, also provide their members with life long friends and companions.
The Oak Lawn Tennis Association was founded in 1979 by a group of friends who enjoyed tennis. This organization was the first to support gay and lesbian tennis activities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. OLTA and similar groups began hosting the Texas Open. In addition, for the past two years, funds raised from the Texas Open, have been donated to CURE, an organization that provides healing to developing countries around the world.
“We have several success stories ranging from beginning players winning club awards…winning the Texas Cup competition in 2012 to several members winning tournaments at all levels on the GLTA tour,” said OLTA executive director Richard Chaney.
Also in Dallas, Sets in the City is a lesbian tennis organization founded in 2012 by Mary Sherman. Although a new club, SITC has around 150 members and welcomes lesbians of all ages, disabilities and skill levels. The organization meets every Friday afternoon to play tennis and round-robin matches, afterwards retiring for dinner and socializing.
“We view the primary purpose of Friday nights as introducing new players to the game and giving the group as a whole an opportunity to re-connect,” says SITC member Kathy Wise.
SITC sponsors 3.0 to 4.0 USTA and Metro teams and coordinates mixed doubles with their counterpart, OLTA. Success for SITC has been abundant, such as a 3.0 player being ranked No. 5 in Texas, their doubles team winning statewide and GLTA tournaments, and a rookie 2.5 Lone Star Team winning the championship with Sherman captaining the team.
Relationships have also flourished from this organization, from girlfriends and wives to lifelong friends, all supported within the SITC organization.
Founded in 1980, the Houston Tennis Club is a non-profit tennis organization that welcomes all players of all race, gender, and sexual orientation that play at any level. HTC hosts events like HOUTEX, an international GLTA tennis tournament held annually on Veterans Day weekend, where funds are donated to local LGBT organizations. Besides tennis activities, HTC hosts social events such as Fun Charity Tournaments and Happy Hour.
USTA Texas commends these organizations for their successful efforts in the tennis and LGBT community. It is with organizations like these that give players of all backgrounds the confidence to be themselves and feel included in the tennis community.
“Any organization that helps people feel comfortable and gives people a common bond (tennis) in the LGBT community is important,” said USTA Texas diversity and inclusion coordinator Veronica Nicholls.
USTA’s support for LGBT rights has reached new heights this Pride Month. USTA has announced that they participated in the 2015 New York City and San Francisco Pride Parades in June celebrating the LGBT community.
Along with their appearance, the tennis organization has also announced their partnership with award-winning global provider of mobile event applications Double Dutch to bring people the “LGBT Tennis Network.” This free social media app is a networking tool for LGBT tennis players to connect with fellow players, friends, family and allies.
Tennis Hall of Famer and activist Billie Jean King applauded USTA for its participation.