The USTA has announced it will be adding same-gender couples’ doubles tournaments to its 2015 adult competition tennis calendar. The groundbreaking announcement opens the door to new play opportunities for same-sex spouses, those in civil unions, domestic partners, and spousal equivalents, making the USTA’s popular adult competition more diverse and inclusive. The Plaza Racquet Club in Palm Springs will be hosting the historic inaugural event, March 7-8. Other sanctioned same-gender events will be scheduled by the USTA throughout the 2015 calendar year.
The new divisions can be found in the “Family Divisions” categories on Tennislink, and include: Same Gender Female Couples Doubles, Same Gender Male Couples Doubles, Same Gender Female Couples Doubles (Combo Ages 80 Years), Same Gender Female Couples Doubles (Combo Ages 100 Years), Same Gender Female Couples Doubles (Combo Ages 120 Years), Same Gender Male Couples Doubles (Combo Ages 80 Years), Same Gender Male Couples Doubles (Combo Ages 100 Years) Same Gender Male Couples Doubles (Combo Ages 120 Years).
In the divisions where no combo age is listed, the players may be of any age. In divisions where a combined age is defined, the players’ ages must add up to, or over, the listed number (ex. 80, 100 or 120) for the team to meet the eligibility requirements for the event.
“The USTA could not be more excited to offer the opportunity for same-gender couples to play in sanctioned tennis tournaments,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President. “Tennis once again has stepped to the front to break down barriers in order to allow individuals to compete in the game they love with these new sanctioned events.”
“This is a great and important step forward for tennis,” said Hall of Famer Billie Jean King. “Tennis is a sport that’s equally fun and beneficial for everyone, so it’s nice to know that going forward, we’ll enjoy a greater sense of equality between the lines in adult competition. The makeup of families in our world is changing and I’m thrilled to see that tennis also is recognizing that change, and making it easier for same-gender couples to compete—and have fun—together on the tennis court.”
“Palm Springs is one of the most welcoming and LGBT-friendly cities in the nation, and we are proud to host this historic event in our city,” said Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet. “When it comes to celebrating diversity, Palm Springs truly is like no place else.”
Nabil Najjar, the Co-Tournament Director of the Palm Springs event, is the longest-serving board member of the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA), having served for 14 years. For more than two decades, he has volunteered running GLTA tournaments and was instrumental in making this event happen. “I am proud to have introduced this division,” said Najjar. “It is a very exciting opportunity in the history of sports for same-gender couples to be competing side-by-side, and unprecedented for both the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance and the United States Tennis Association to sanction these new divisions.”
"We are extremely excited to be a part of such a historic tennis tournament,” said Kurt Haggstrom, Co-Tournament Director. “Palm Springs is such a diverse community and this event is a perfect fit for our city. The feedback from the LGBT community has been extraordinary, and the participation should be spectacular".
By introducing the tournaments during the 2015 calendar year the goal is that the events will become National Championships for the 2016 adult competition tournament calendar year.
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 720,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA’s philanthropic entity, the USTA Foundation, provides grants and scholarships and helps under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities, and supports wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their families. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page, facebook.com/usta, or follow @usta on Twitter.