By Lorraine Longhi, Feb. 12, 2015.
Intramural sports are a sure way to build camaraderie, make friends and forge strong bonds of community – all while getting a workout, or at least engaging in an activity you love.
Out of this ethos, one local league strives to provide a space for members of the LGBT community and their allies to come together in the Phoenix area to play the sport of tennis.
The Cactus Tennis Alliance (CTA) will host the 2015 Cactus Open tournament Feb. 14 -16 at the Phoenix Tennis Center. Matches will begin as early as 8 a.m. each day and feature a diverse gamut of tennis professionals from around the world.
“We usually have anywhere from 30 to 40 people register to play in the tournament, with a majority of these players coming from out of town,” said Omar Garcia, Cactus Open tournament director.
Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance
The Cactus Open, last held in 2013, is one of several tournaments managed by the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA), an organization dedicated to providing open, safe spaces for members of the LGBT community to come together and develop amateur tennis leagues.
Upcoming GLTA tournaments will take place in Florida, Texas and California, as well as international sites including Spain, Germany and France.
GLTA asks that its various tournaments sponsor a charity of choice along with their events. This year, the Cactus Tennis Alliance is sponsoring the Valley Youth Theatre of Phoenix, whose mission is to foster excellence and interest in the performing arts among Valley youth.
“We’re really trying to help kids to follow their interests and passion, as we know a lot of these young kids feel the same way about theater as we do about tennis,” Garcia said. “Another plus is that we get to support a local Phoenix organization.”
A Wimbledon-esque Weekend
The Cactus Tennis Open will kick off with a welcome party Friday at Kobalt. The welcome party is free and open to both players and guests.
There will be several divisions of play for the tournament, including Open, A, B, C and D. For GLTA tennis players, rankings are based on the average of a player’s last four tournament rankings.
For players who do not advance beyond their first matches, the tournament will offer consolation brackets. The format of play will be dependent on various factors, but winners of these consolation brackets will receive awards.
The tournament weekend will also feature a Sunday-evening banquet at Ticoz Resto-Bar, a raffle and other prizes. The banquet is free for players and guests, if added to a player’s registration for $25, are welcome.
The Local League
The CTA, which is registered with the United States Tennis Association as a community tennis association, continues the mission of providing inclusive sports organizations for the LGBT community, while stressing the importance of remaining open to allies and anyone interested in playing.
“In sports it’s important to keep an open mind and be accepting of everyone,” Garcia said. “It’s important for the LGBT community to have its own place to play, but we like to keep it open and support allies the way they support us when we play.”
The alliance meets at 7 p.m. on Friday and Sunday nights at the Phoenix Tennis Center for drop-in tennis, where players of all skill levels may show up to play for two hours for an $8 court and light fee. Off the court, players also meet for social events, including viewing parties for Grand Slam events. Interested participants are invited to email [email protected] or visit cactustennis.org for more information.
Feb. 14-16, 2015
Phoenix Tennis Center
6330 N. 21st Ave., Phoenix