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All-star spotlight: Capital Tennis

Local players find camaraderie, competition on local and international courts

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Capital Classic Tournament, gay news, Washington Blade, Capital Tennis Association

Dana Mendenhall and Quang Nguyen say they’re each passionate about playing in Capital Tennis. (Photos courtesy the players)

The Capital Tennis Association offers league play throughout the year along with its Capital Classic Tournament being a stop on the Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance World Tour.

Members are also experimenting with different formats including a team format like World Team Tennis, where players from each of the five divisions would form a team to play against other similar teams.

In addition, Capital Tennis offers free tennis lessons for beginners in the spring and fall months and drill sessions for members in the summer months.

This week in the ongoing Washington Blade series spotlighting athletes in the LGBT sports community, we meet two LGBT players from Capital Tennis.

Dana Mendenhall says she was born with a tennis racket in her hand because her father was the head tennis pro at a club. Raised in Montclair, Va., she left the sport behind in her rebellious teen years.

She spotted Capital Tennis in its booth at Capital Pride in 2015 and after moving to Alexandria, she signed up for its winter league.

“I didn’t have a lot interaction with the LGBT community up until that point,” Mendenhall says. “Being surrounded by my peers made it easier and fun for me to get back into the sport.”

Mendenhall is working as a dental assistant and taking classes at Northern Virginia Community College. She will move on to University of Maryland to pursue a degree in biology.

She has fully integrated back into loving tennis and has played almost every day over the past year. Along with her membership with Capital Tennis she is also playing in the Mid-Atlantic section of the United States Tennis Association and will compete in upcoming regionals at Virginia Beach.

“I think I have improved a lot over the past year and my forehand has become a weapon,” Mendenhall says. “I definitely have room for more improvement and there are always little things you can do better.”

Last fall she competed in her first Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance tournament at the Capital Classic and found herself facing men in all her rounds.

“It’s all equal to me because of the divisions; gender doesn’t matter at all and I look forward to teaming up with male players for mixed doubles at future tournaments,” Mendenhall says. “I always try to keep a smile on my face during my matches and I am loving being a part of Capital Tennis.”

When Capital Tennis needed an upgrade to its website, organizers looked to player Quang Nguyen who runs software company ARPH Systems with one of his brothers. Nguyen created a software that handles registration, scheduling, profiles, rankings and score lines.

Born and raised in Virginia Beach, he didn’t play organized sports and was focused primarily on violin and piano. He was however, playing tennis recreationally with his brothers. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he moved back home with his parents before finally following his college friends to D.C. in 2010.

In 2011, Nguyen attended a speed dating event hosted by the D.C. Gay Flag Football League and met several players from Capital Tennis. He signed up and began playing all four tennis leagues along with going to the Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance tournaments.

He lost in the first or second round of every tournament until having a breakthrough in 2014 when he won three tournaments and two silver medals at the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland. His tournament wins qualified him for a spot in the GLTA World Championships in Palm Springs.

“I had always been athletic, but it took me a while to figure out how to win,” Nguyen says. “My mental game improved and I began playing with a lot more confidence.”

Last year, Nguyen signed up for the first GLTA tournament in Tel Aviv only to see it struggle to get participants. He would step forward again to help his tennis community.

“Five of us from Capital Tennis were signed up and all of the travel arrangements were already paid for,” Nguyen says. “I ended up sponsoring 20 players to beef up the draw and ensure that the tournament would go on.”

Now that his play has gotten better, Nguyen is lining up future tournaments including the Gay Games in Paris and enjoying his time in the LGBT tennis community.

“This is all about being around people like myself. It’s my social life and I like meeting gay athletes,” Nguyen says. “I wasn’t very good when I started, but now I am at a point where it is a mix of competition and having fun.”

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Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team

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Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels

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Tom Daley (Photo by sportsphotographer.eu via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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