Get to Know the GLTA World Tour — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Feb. 7, 2023

Hola, amigos and Happy Tennis Tuesday! I’m reporting from Manacor, Spain at the Rafa Nadal Academy, where I’m doing a half-week training camp. It’s been great so far and I happened to run into my neighbor next door, Top 10 player Felix Auger Aliassime:

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I decided to attend the camp since I was “in the area” in Gran Canaria at the GLTA World Tour Championships, which I mentioned last week. I figured with a pretty light week in terms of tennis news, I would explain the GLTA and hopefully bring more awareness and players to an organization that has changed my life.

Me and five of the other seven Men’s C singles qualifiers

The GLTA is formally the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance, providing a safe haven for players that identify with the LGBTQIA+ community. However, you can be an ally and sign up to play with the 10,000+ player community. There are over 70 events throughout the calendar year currently in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Players have gotten to play on the same courts as the US Open, Cincinnati or most recently, during the AO Glam Slam, which was part of the Australian Open’s Pride efforts. Depending on your level, you can play Open (the highest), A, B, C or D singles and doubles. Some tournaments also offer mixed doubles, if there are enough women to enter.

Getting more female representation on the GLTA circuit is something I’m incredibly hopeful for. I love playing mixed doubles and was fortunate enough to walk away with the C runner-up trophy after a really tough roller coaster of a week in Men’s C Singles. There is a strong female contingent out of Europe so I was fortunate enough to play with players from England, Belgium and an American based out of Amsterdam. Note, if tournaments that lack a lot of female entries — which can be quite normal in the United States — women enter the men’s division, but a level down from their level.

Me and my mixed doubles partner in the finals, Christine

While the GLTA is extremely social and their own family, we’re all still tennis players looking to leave the weekend with hardware. Each division carries a certain number of points per win, which helps rate you to enter the tournaments at the correct level. However, there is also a “championship ranking” where you earn points per each round and more if you make the finals or win. There are five Masters tournaments where double points are offered. At the end of the ranking cycle — which is the end of October — the Top 8 of each division are offered acceptance into the GLTA World Championships, which rotate between North America, Europe and Australia every three years.

In Gran Canaria, Tennis Channel brought a film crew to record throughout the Championships, talk to the Executive Board and players — including myself and my twin brother, Kevin. We got to talk about our own journeys with GLTA and why we find the organization so special and what we want to see in it’s future. They are going to edit the package and plan to unveil it and run often throughout Tennis Channel Live, most likely during Roland Garros. However, there were talks that they could try to push it during Indian Wells.

Sure, there are plenty of amateur tennis leagues and events that may or may not be sanctioned, but the GLTA World Tour gives players of all levels the feeling of playing for something more than the love of the game. I started playing in August of 2021 and immediately caught the tournament bug, playing ten tournaments in 2022 and I’m planning around the same amount this year. Having a full circuit to train and look forward to is great and gives you a better understanding of what your favorite players have to endure — especially traveling and adapting to completely new areas and/or surfaces.

Being able to connect and play with others who perhaps understand your own struggles or have been in your shoes before is heart-warming. Each tournament also includes a raffle that helps benefit a local charity — many being ones that offer support to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tennis isn’t the most gay-friendly sport at the professional level and creating a safe and inclusive environment for players to be themselves without judgement is the cherry on top.

If you’re interested in learning more about the GLTA, or want to support their endeavors, please reach out to me! I would love to take the circuit to the next level!

Onto links, now!

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

Have you ever just nodded your head when someone explained the game of tennis itself or the WTA calendar? Fortunately, WTA players are breaking it down for you.

Alycia Parks’ rise to the top of the game continued with her first WTA title above the WTA 125 level. She upset Caroline Garcia in two tight sets to claim her first Top 5 win and the Open 6ème Sens Métropole de Lyon. The doubles title went to Cristina Bucsa and Bibiane Schoofs, who downed Olga Danilovic and Alexandra Panova.

Another player finding her career-best form is Zhu Lin and she also took home her first above-WTA 125 title at the Thailand Open presented by E@. Lin defeated Lesia Tsurenko in two sets and also made the doubles final. Unfortunately, she and partner Wang Xinyu fell to Chan Hao-Ching and Wu Fang-Hsien.

At the WTA 125 Copa Oster in Cali, Colombia, former Roland Garros semifinalist Nadia Podoroska defeated Argentine compatriot Paula Ormaechea to win the biggest title of her career. Weronika Falkowska and Katarzyna Kawa outlasted Kyoka Okamura and You Xiaodi in a match tiebreaker to be crowned doubles champions.

Former Doubles World No. 1 Barbora Strycova announced that she’s training and looking to come back in the summer following maternity leave:

Need a dose of cute in your life? IX friend Sloane Stephens met Sloane Stephens through the (Columbus, Ohio-based!) Buddy Up Tennis program — the beneficiary of multiple GLTA tournaments — during an exhibition at the ATP 250 event in Dallas.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the massive earthquake in Turkey this past week. The country hosts ITF World Tour events nearly weekly, with sometimes hosting multiple at the same time. American tennis player Hurricane Tyra Black is among the players that is stranded in the country for the time being.

Speaking of exhibitions, remember when players complained about the tennis calendar and got in shortened? Well, now their off-season is full of lucrative matchups and has changed the notion of an actual “preseason.”

Reigning Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina is urging the International Olympic Committee to formally ban Russia and Belarus from the Games until the Ukraine conflict is over. The 2024 Games in Paris are looming and like I’ve said before, penalizing Russia where they take pride in most — sports — might be the route to finally take.

Varvara Lepchenko will be eligible to return to action this May following a successful appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The American had her 4-year suspension reduced to 21 months following the appeal that revealed the capsules in her travel bag were missing an ingredient, but she was still found partially negligent.

I visited Austin, Texas last year for the first time and enjoyed all of it and am so bummed that I’m missing the inaugural WTA 250 event next month. Emma Raducanu joined the field that already includes Sloane Stephens, Danielle Collins and NCAA champion Peyton Stearns.

In Williams sisters news, Serena Williams spoke to Gayle King about post-retirement life:

While Venus updated fans on the injury that occurred in Auckland and forced her withdrawal from the Australian Open:

Sense Arena is starting to make waves in the tennis world, using AI to help players of all levels to assist in off-court mental training. The University of South Florida women’s team is among the latest to give it a try.

Diana Schnaider made quite the statement at the Australian Open, breaking the Top 100 thanks to qualifying for the main draw, winning a round and taking Maria Sakkari to three sets. The question on everyone’s mind was whether or not she would still stay a member of the NC State women’s tennis team. It was finally answered this week following the green light of eligibility.

Some unfortunate news in the college tennis community, where the news that former Georgia standout Lilly Kimbell passed away at 31 following some health issues:

Tweet of the Week

I mean, just watch and enjoy

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon