The Philadelphia Liberty Tennis Association has been bringing LGBTQ tennis players together in the Philadelphia area for a dozen years. And while COVID-19 has put a damper on some of 2020, they are preparing for a return to the courts soon.
The organization boasts about 70 participants each year from across the TriState/Delaware Valley area. Their partnership with RiverWinds Golf & Tennis Club, a facility in New Jersey, allows them access to tennis courts in an area most central to their main membership area.
They host drill sessions, monthly social gatherings (when social gatherings are allowed) and “ladder” styled league play. They also participate in events involving LGBTQ tennis groups from other states and regions, including the annual four-city Atlantic Cup. The association even hosts an annual tournament of their own, the Philadelphia Open, but this year it’s been canceled due to the pandemic.
It’s through the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance that their reach goes beyond the City of Brotherly Love.
“A major benefit of being apart of the G.L.T.A. is its acceptance of every lifestyle, openly welcoming members of the LGBTQIA+ society,” P.L.T.A president Matthew Wong said. “Being under their umbrella and being active within the communities expands the range of potential participants for P.L.T.A.”
P.L.T.A. has also made helping youth a priority for the organization, raising donations to The Attic Youth Center, which aims to support LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia.
“The Attic Youth Center’s goal has been to reduce the feeling of isolation by providing a sense of community and developing programs and services to counteract the prejudice and oppression that many LGBTQ youth often face,” Wong said.
The group also works with Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, which uses tennis to build educational and character-building programs to prepare youth for success through an inclusive community.
Now members are looking forward to a time when they can return to the courts with no concerns about their health, other than making sure they do some good stretching and warm-up drills.
“With everything that has transpired over the past few months, tennis remains an outlet for so many,” Wong said. “We understand that when the season resumes, that it will be necessary for people to resume their daily activities and be there for them to release all excess stress from their lives.”