September 15, 2011 | by Kevin Majoros
Tennis anyone?
Capital Tennis

A recent Capital Tennis Association meet. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Majoros)

This weekend, the Capital Tennis Association (CTA) will welcome 180 players from around the country for the Capital Classic XIX tennis tournament. The event will be contested at the Hains Point Tennis Center in East Potomac Park on both clay and hard courts.

The tournament is sanctioned by the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance, an international organization that manages and sanctions the gay tennis circuit around the world. About 10,000 players will take part in Alliance tournaments this year.

The Capital Classic will consist of the five Alliance divisions which rotate in this event each year between the clay and hard courts, giving the players a chance to compete on different surfaces and thus drawing a different mix of players each year since some of the athletes favor a particular surface.

The five divisions, which will be contested in both singles and doubles, have been developed by the Alliance to enable some uniformity in pairing players with similar abilities. A player rates himself based on the guidelines and is then placed in a division.

Funding of the tournament comes from fees and money donated by local businesses with Brandon Green & Associates being the signature sponsor. Surplus funds are then donated to local charities. This year’s benefactors are the Mautner Project, Food & Friends and the Team D.C. Scholarship Fund.

The Capital Tennis Association was formed in 1994 and is one of the largest and most active LGBT sports groups in the area. The current membership base is around 300 players with annual dues being $50.

The CTA offers many avenues for tennis players to advance their skills and meet other players. Their two-hour drill session series has resulted in an incredible demand and Walker Chaffin, CTA coordinator, says the drill series has become so popular, they are hoping to initiate more in the future. Proceeds from the sessions are donated to SMYAL.

The group also hosts leagues at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, Fairfax Racquet Club, George Washington Tennis Center and the Hains Point Tennis Center.  There are currently a total of 20 leagues broken apart by three seasons — fall (Oct. to Dec.), winter (Jan. to April) and summer (May to Sept.). The leagues are offered on both weeknight and weekends and are available in both singles and doubles play.

If you don’t have a partner to play doubles with, they will assign one to you. The leagues draw about 200 players and they do have a sub list for players who join late or cannot commit to the whole season.

Eddie Engles, CTA president, was excited to tell me about the new beginner’s indoor league, which starts next month. Beginner players will have the opportunity to play singles and a rotating doubles format. The doubles teams will rotate players so the newbies can experience playing with different partners and forge new friendships. For those who are worried they don’t have the proper gear to play, the CTA listserv can offer a chance to pick up used equipment.

Twice a year, the CTA holds a club championships tournament, which serves up a fun tennis weekend for league players. For many, it’s an opportunity to experience a tournament format for the first time.

And finally, for all you armchair experts, the CTA offers up Fantasy Tennis. At the beginning of the year, you select a team of five players who are on the Alliance and/or Association of Tennis Professionals tours. Each time a member of your team wins a match at each of the four Grand Slams and the Sony Ericsson tournament, you score points that could lead you to be the Fantasy Tennis champion. There’s a cash prize for the winner and the remaining proceeds are donated to charity.

Get yourself out to East Potomac Park this weekend and check out our tennis athletes in action. They can also be found at capital-tennis.org.

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