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10 Things About GLTA Tournaments

Since, it's founding in 1991, the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) has grown into the world's largest LGBTQ sports association, with 80+ tournaments annually. But no matter where they take place, Toronto or Tasmania, Bologna or Bali, they usually follow the same format. Here are 10 things to make you a pro at GLTA tournaments, even before your first one.

1. They are part of everywhere

On any given weekend, somewhere in the world, there is a GLTA tournament. Check out the current schedule.

2. EVERYONE can play

Everyone can compete in GLTA tournaments, really. Every skill level plays its own division, from beginners to people who may have played against the pros (and showered with them). Some tournaments have separate draws for women, and draws for players aged 40+ and 50+. At tournaments you will see players of all levels and ages playing matches next to each other. 

3. They usually take place over 3 days and on weekends

Almost all GLTA tournaments take place over 3-day weekends, with first matches starting at 8AM on the Friday or Saturday morning and finals concluding on the third day. Some are on big holiday weekends, but there is usually a tournament somewhere in the world on any given weekend.

4. There is usually a draw party and a tournament dinner 

Many tournaments have a "draw party" the evening before the tournament starts, to welcome players and socialize at a local LGBTQ-friendly bar or restaurant (or sauna). 

There is almost always a tournament dinner on the night before the final day. This is a casual dinner- jeans, shorts, T-shirts, or a cute shirt, all work well. The dinner is free, but drinks are usually not. Most players don't have matches on the final day, so going to bars after dinner is popular.

5. It's both a lot of fun and very serious

Be on time. Be ready to play. Tournament directors are VERY serious about match times. You WILL be penalized and defaulted if you are even a few minutes late. Show up early and prepared to step on court (pee, put on tennis clothes and shoes, organize your fans, and get your water before match time).

6. It can be A LOT of tennis, especially if you keep winning

The GLTA tour is an amazing way to see new cities, countries, and continents, but be aware of how much tennis you may end up playing.

At a big tournament, you may play 4 matches per day- two singles and two doubles- if you keep winning. 


You could end up playing 8-10 matches in less than 72 hours. Keep that in mind when you plan tennis outfits and racquets, sightseeing, nutrition, hydration, travel time, and "making plans" with locals.

7. Trophies!

There is no prize money, but many trophies! Most tournaments have singles and doubles in every division, and sometimes mixed doubles too. All have singles consolation draws for anyone who loses in their first round, and some tournaments have them for doubles too. 

Champions AND finalists in every level and division get trophies. Consolation winners may also get a trophy. Most trophies look the same, usually a piece of glass. Some tournaments have unique trophies (for better or worse, depending on who you ask). 

8. They support community causes

Like most of LGBTQ sports, the GLTA came out of the AIDS pandemic. For decades, tournaments have raised money for local HIV/AIDS and other organizations. Raffles at the banquet are the usual way of doing that. You can bid on tennis gear, gift certificates, and free entries to other tournaments. 

9. Don't wait to be 'good enough' or 'ready'

The only way to know if you're good enough or ready for tournaments is to start playing them. You will lose more than you win. Half of participants have to lose in the first round, so winning is sometimes not the point. And while winning is fun, losing early is not that bad. It may help you enjoy the rest of the tournament more.

10. Play, stay, be fair, be kind

If you think you should try a tournament, do it. If you lose early, stay around the venue- watch matches, meet new people, realize that people will be talking obsessively about how they won, why they lost, and their nemeses on tour, and you too will soon be doing the same.

Say hello to people you don't know, and make an effort to speak to people who say hello. Stay in touch- add people on social media (if the friendliness is mutual. If unsure, try Instagram over Facebook), join the social media groups, listen to the podcasts. Play more tournaments, and bring someone new along who is also thinking of trying a tournament.

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