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USTA Inclusive: GLTF at the Bank of the West Classic!

By Dora Gyulai – USTA Northern California

For the second time in a row, USTA hosted an LGBT social event during the Bank of the West Classic Tournament. The Gay & Lesbian Tennis Federation (GLTF) of San Francisco was invited to enjoy a night of tennis at the tournament, on Friday, August 4, more than 60 members of the GLTF attended the event, created to provide inclusiveness and promote equal opportunity play for every tennis lover.

The night began with a social hour including friendly conversations and beverages to cool down in the heat. The group then headed to watch the quarterfinals between Cici Bellis and Petra Kvitova where Bellis defeated Kvitova with a 6-2, 6-0.

The Gay & Lesbian Tennis Federation is a tennis club with 500+ members playing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The federation is one of the largest and oldest tennis federations in the United States. The club hosts events for players of all levels, from novice to teaching pros.

I asked Paul Mabe about his role as the president of the federation: “My job is simple, I promote inclusive tennis. We’re proud that more and more people are trying to sign up and play with us, gay, straight, doesn’t matter.” Paul mentioned that “most people just want to be part of our community and have fun with us.” Most importantly, people just want to play tennis and that’s one of the reasons why the membership keeps growing.

After mingling with the group, I was introduced to Peg Stevenson, who is the current Communications Director, who enthusiastically explained that this is a 100% volunteer organization. Everyone on the Board of Directors is volunteering their time to this federation. Peg told me that her current role includes sending emails, newsletters and various announcements about events. Peg who used to be the Women’s Director is spending up to 20 hours a month to fulfill her role. She highlighted that as a community tennis organization they are not in it for the money. “It costs $40 a year to join and it solves the problem of meeting people to play tennis with. It’s really important for us to make a positive contribution to the Gay & Lesbian community.”

Following my conversation with Peg, I noticed a person in the crowd who seemed to be known by everyone. Ben Szeto, the Vice President of Tennis Programs is a man of smiles. Ben has been the Vice President for the past three years. Ben takes care of USTA NorCal tennis teams; organizes beginner groups, develops teams and brings in new players. “One of my goals is to grow the organization from the bottom up.” Ben developed a program called “The Tennis Academy” for beginners and advanced beginners who haven’t played in a long time and want come back to develop their strokes. After a four-week session, tennis lovers start to play on 2.5 level teams. “Once they go through the tennis program, we get them excited to play team tennis and that’s how we get them into USTA NorCal.”

The partnership with the GLTF nourishes the opportunities for equal play in the San Francisco Bay Area and we hope to reach more people beyond.

Upcoming events can be found here: Calendar.

Don’t miss your chance to hang out with the GLTF!
Join the US Open social event on September 9, at 1:00 PM at the Lookout. If you wear a skirt to the event, you’ll get a free drink!

Go to GLTF’s Facebook page here: Gay and Lesbian Tennis Federation of San Francisco (GLTF)

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