When the Easter weekend rolls around, forget your local Easter egg hunt. Instead, follow the Easter Bunny – grab your tennis racket and head to Burbank, California because it’s time for the LA Open 2016 on March 25-27. It’s hosted by the Los Angeles Tennis Association, better known as LATA.
While open to all ages and skill levels, the singles and doubles tournament is sponsored by LATA’s international organization, the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) that manages and sanctions the gay tennis circuit around the world. As one of LATA’s three national tournaments held each year, the LA Open is always ranked in the Top 10 GLTA events worldwide, a fact that draws 170 players from across the globe.
While competition at the LA Open is always fierce, the atmosphere is always friendly and supportive. This is one of the important reasons why LATA’s membership has continued to grow since its inception in 1978, making it now the largest gay tennis organization in the U.S. with a focus on developing and coordinating tennis activities for the LGBTQ community within the greater Los Angeles community.
For serious tennis players, there are lots of opportunities to play. Even though sports venues are in short supply in the Los Angeles area, LATA offers league play every night of the week, spreading it across five or six venues from Burbank to the valley to city center in Los Angeles.
Through LATA’s resources, players have year-round access to players of all levels and styles in competitive, structured or informal settings — whatever suits each player’s schedule. This is all part of the group’s goal to promote greater health and happiness by helping each member reach his or her potential, both on and off the court!
Beyond tournaments such as the LA Open, LATA also offers team tennis, tennis socials, clinics, social doubles and ladder challenges throughout the year. But you don’t have to be a serious player to be part of the group. Like many gay-oriented sports organizations, LATA is open to players of all ages and skill levels as well as sexual preference and orientation.
And the best part for many is the group’s active year-round social calendar that attracts both gay and straight members. It includes a summer picnic, a year-end holiday party and an assortment of fun outings like barbeques, bowling, even ice skating.
As a non-profit organization itself, LATA uses its tournaments to raise funds for other non-profit social service organizations in the Los Angeles area that serve the LGBTQ community, homeless teens and special needs groups such as Special Olympics as well as AIDS-related organizations. Prior to a tournament, a local non-profit is selected to receive the monies raised during that event.
Jose Sambas, this month’s Team Compete MVP, is an excellent example of LATA’s membership. He loved playing tennis and was looking for a way to be more connected with the gay sports community. After learning about LATA through an article, he signed up five years ago and has been a board member ever since, additionally serving this year as the group’s publicity chair. He, like many others, feels he’s found in LATA his “court away from home.”
If you would like to join LATA as a member, go to www.lataweb.com
Photo Courtesy of LATA
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