By Jessica Carreras
Motor City Tennis Classic
Bloomfield Tennis and Fitness Club
Franklin Fitness and Racquet Club
A banquet will be held for all participants on Saturday night
An after-tournament party will be held Sunday evening at Como’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, 22812 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
The biggest problem with running an LGBT tennis group? Getting women to play during the summer.
“Lesbians just love to golf,” jokes Dan Cole, president of the Motor City Tennis Alliance.
Cole, who’s been the president for six years, says that things are looking good for the alliance – especially this weekend, when it’ll be hosting the fourth annual Motor City Tennis Classic. The competition will be held all day Friday and Saturday, with finals on Sunday morning, at the Bloomfield Tennis and Fitness Club and at the Franklin Fitness and Racquet Club.
“We’re expecting around 200 participants from around the U.S, Canada and the U.K.,” he says, adding that this is the largest turnout in the tournament’s four-year history. Last year, the same tournament hosted by the alliance was recognized as Best Small Tournament 2006 by the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Association.
The Motor City Tennis Alliance began 10 years ago and Cole, 42, has been building the group both in membership and activity ever since. It now boasts more than 60 active members that participate on a regular basis, according to Cole. Play ranges from friendly one-on-one impromptu games to serious tournaments, such as the one this weekend. “We offer all types of events, from casual to competitive play,” he explains. “People don’t have to be afraid of not being good enough.”
Cole stresses that there is no minimum skill level required for membership to the alliance, and tennis virgins may even be able to find fellow members to help them improve. “(Newcomers) don’t have to be embarrassed if they’ve never played before,” he says. Though there are no formal lessons taught within the alliance, “there are people who will teach others the basics.”
Moreover, swinging racquets isn’t everything when it comes to being a member of the alliance. “There’s more to it than just tennis,” Cole explains. Though tournaments make up the majority of the group’s events, members also participate in social outings, bowling events and fundraisers held for large tournaments.
This weekend, however, it’s all about tennis.
For the 170-plus participants signed up, there are numerous levels of play. They range from “D” level, which includes some beginners, to those who are almost considered pros. Though some will play only once or twice, more competitive players will be on the court for up to four matches a day. Within each level, players will compete Friday and Saturday until they are eliminated, leaving those left to compete in the finals. “The public is welcome to come out and watch,” Cole says. “Plus, it’s free.”
In conjunction with the tournament, a raffle will be held for those who are interested in purchasing tickets. Prizes will come from local businesses, and the proceeds will all go to the non-profit HIV/AIDS Resource Center, based in Ypsilanti. “We’re helping out people who are less able to pull in money,” says Cole, explaining that funds from each year’s raffle benefit LGBT-related organizations and businesses.
Cole urges any who are interested to come out and watch the tournaments and see what the Motor City Tennis Alliance is all about. And who knows? Some of them may even end up joining – that is, after golf season is over.