SFTC hosting Tennis Fun Day
The South Florida Tennis Club has announced they will be holding a “Tennis Fun Day” festival on Saturday, November 13th at the Dillon Tennis Center in Oakland Park. SFTC is a non-profit organization formed to develop and coordinate tennis activities for GLBT community and their friends in the South Florida area.
“The festival will be from noon to 3 p.m. and we have a lot of fun and interactive activities planned”, said Alan Holt, an SFTC board member who is coordinating the event. “We’ve arranged with the pros at Dillon to provide free lessons and clinics for players of all skills levels, beginner to advance. We’ll also have a court dedicated for anyone wanting to demo the latest racquets so they can find their perfect match. And those who want to put their skills to the test can try for some nice prizes at courts set aside for fastest serve and target hitting contests.” Holt noted that SFTC membership is not required and the event is open to anyone who is interested, “but we do ask anyone interested in participating in the free clinics portion to please register on our website in advance” he said. The clubs website is www.sftc.us.
According to SFTC President Bobby O’Dor, the Tennis Fun Day was conceived as a way to increase the visibility and profile of the club and to promote the game within the community. He noted, “although the club has been around for awhile, some people don’t know about us or they think you need to be an advanced player already, which is not the case. The club has activities for all levels of players throughout the year.” He said he hoped the event would be a fun way for those interested to come out and meet the members and find out more about the club.
The club was started in 1987 by a group of local players who felt as though they were not as accepted in some of the regular leagues. “It was a different time then”, recalls Jim Cunningham, a local realtor who was one of the original members and is still active in the club today. “There were a handful of other gay clubs in the country in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. We knew most of them from traveling to play in their tournaments. We’d go to 5 or 6 tournaments a year and we took what we learned from those clubs to model our own club here. Our first year we had approximately 17 members”, he said. The club quickly established itself and began to host its own tournament in 1990, before larger cities such New York or Washington D.C. had done so. It has grown steadily in the intervening years and now boasts a membership of 140 members. And what once was a loose confederation of a few clubs has evolved into the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (www.GLTA.net), which comprises 40 gay and lesbian tennis clubs across the globe. SFTC’s tournament, which is now called the Clay Court Classic, is sanctioned by the GLTA. It is held in February each year and is one of the more popular tournaments on the GLTA circuit, drawing participants from around the world.
Judging from the list of activities it would seem the club has no problem keeping its 140 members busy. That list includes Spring and Fall “Ladder” seasons where players are divided by skill level and assigned to compete in two matches per month for four months. The term “ladder” is used because players climb up the play list by winning points as a result of their matches. Adrian Evans, who joined the club when he moved to Fort Lauderdale from Cincinnati last year, said he liked the Ladder format because the players themselves workout a mutually agreed time and place for their assigned matches and this allows him to schedule around his working hours. “Plus, since we play two new opponents each month, it has been a good way for me to find hitting partners and make new friends. Being new to the area that that was really important to me”, he said.
Those who are more team minded can opt to join the “Team Tennis” competition in which teams comprised of 3 or 4 players of mixed skill levels compete against each other during an 8 week round robin. Also, each year the club sends teams to compete against the other GLTA clubs in Florida in events known as the Florida Cup and Sunshine Cup. The Florida Cup is an annual competition in which the top 16 players from the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa clubs compete against each other over one weekend in both singles and doubles. At the end of the weekend the team with most wins is recognized as the champion and takes possession of the coveted Florida Cup trophy. The Sunshine Cup is a similar competition but limited to players B level or lower. Both events were recently completed in Miami and Orlando respectively and both were won this year by Fort Lauderdale’s SFTC.
For more information about the Tennis Fun Day and to register for the free clinics go to the club’s website at www.sftc.us.