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Monday, June 27, 2011

Draws Are Out & Other Last Minute Thoughts

Hey there tournament players...we're getting close!  Most of us will roll into Louisville on Friday for the 2011 Bluegrass Open.  Here are a few quick hits for you to think about as you get ready to head to the Derby City.
  • The draws are available.  See who you play and when you play.  Good luck!

  • It's going to be another hot one again this year.  Get drinking your water now!  Over my years playing in Louisville, I've seen a lot of players struggle with cramps and the heat.  Get a head start now with the water to help keep that at bay while you're playing.

  • Hopefully you have your reservations at the Spring Hill Suites, the host hotel for this year's tournament.  If you haven't made your reservations yet, you may still be able to get a room at the host hotel, but I think the tournament rate is long gone.  You can also check out Priceline or Kayak.  I would recommend staying downtown.  I'm sure there are places out near the U of L to stay, but most of the players stay downtown for better access to restaurants and nightlife.

  • Make sure you can get to town in time for the draw party at Starbase Q.  It starts at 7:30 and goes until 9:30.  This will be a great place to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones.  Casey, one of the tournament players and Todd's husband (co-tournament director) manages the club.  Let's show some support for a place that has always supported the tournament and welcomed players with open arms.
One last thing I have been thinking about...who out there uses Twitter?  I have been using #GLTA to get the word out about my blog.  What if we all use that and #bluegrassopen for our tweets from the tournament?  I was thinking this would be a cool way to build a little community through social media.  So who's in?

I'm not sure I will have another post before the tournament begins this weekend, but I will be posting daily from the tournament to keep people updated who couldn't make it to Louisville this year. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And Then There's...Lola, Part 2

"Honey, you're playing D consolation in Louisville, be happy there's even a net!"

I sure wish I was there to see that.  The story goes, that was Lola's response to a few players who were upset that their consolation match was off the main tournament site at courts that apparently did not meet there standards.  The center strap was missing.   From what I hear these particular players were pissed, and Lola's smart mouth didn't help.  Of course, I nearly peed my pants when I heard the story.  I loved it.  I thought it was hysterical.

So as you can imagine from my previous post, this was to become fodder for Lola at the banquet.  The pissed players got wind of it over dinner and stormed out of the banquet.  They left.  Of course, that too nearly made me pee my pants.  I mean, come on, it's Lola.  This is what she does.  Take a joke already.

I had my own run in with Lola at one of the banquets.  It was my first tournament in Louisville and I had no idea what to expect at the banquet.  When Lola called my name as the Fashion Plate of the Tournament, I thought great.  I couldn't seem to win a match at that damn tournament, but at least I was being honored for my great sense of style and fashion.  Then I got on stage and she made a smart ass comment about me being the only one in the tournament to wear Lycra and a lime green thong.

WHAT! I don't wear Lycra, and I don't wear thongs.  I knew not what she was talking about.  Not to be all TMI, but I couldn't possibly wear a thong.  Let's just say, body hair would not permit this and leave it at that.  I think she had mistaken my orange jock strap for a lime green thong.  She's color-blind, is all I can think.  Tell me, does this look like a lime green thong:
Dramatic reenactment, not a picture from my actual win as Fashion Plate of the Tournament.
I didn't think so.  I told you...color blind!

So why am I telling you all this?  Because I want you to be aware of what's in store, but also because I hope that you will enjoy the banquet in Louisville as much as I have over the years.  I adore the guys who put on this tournament.  They work hard to pull this event together, and the banquet in Louisville is, in my opinion, one of the best banquets that I've been to on the GLTA tour.  And honestly, Lola's a big part of the reason why.  She's funny.  She doesn't mean any harm.  You just can't take her seriously, you know, like most of her dates.  She helps make not just the banquet but the whole tournament more fun. 

Now Lola, if you're reading this, forget everything I just wrote.  You know it pains me to say anything kind or nice about you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And Then There's...Lola

Lola...so notorious, so infamous, she needs but one name.  The Louisville tournament and Lola go hand in hand-she's the emcee of the banquet.  Every year at the banquet, not only can you support House of Ruth through raffle tickets, but you can count on Lola to entertain and offend all at the same time.  No one is safe and everyone is a potential target to be roasted by Lola in front of the whole tournament.  I expect this year's banquet at Bristol Bar and Grille to be no different.  It'll be the latest scene of Lola's gay humor crime spree.

I've been scouring the interwebs looking for pictures of Lola so you'll know who she is when you get to the tournament; so you can be on guard to not do anything in front of her to draw her ire at the banquet.  I googled her, but this is all I found for Lola:

Thought this might be our Lola, but her fanny is too small to be our Lola, must be a different one...
Thought this might be our Lola, but I don't think our Lola has ever been in bed with a man before, must be a different one...

Thought maybe this was our Lola in a wig, but in all the matches I've seen our Lola play, I'm pretty sure I've never seen her run, must be a different one...
So I'm sorry, I can't help. I have failed you. You will have to fend for yourself. Be safe out there and be on the look out.  But like I said in my last post, she kind of looks like Maude:



I risk my own embarrassment at the banquet to tell you about Lola, but I care not about my own emotional safety.  If I can save one person from Lola's humiliation, it will have all been worth it.

Consider yourself warned...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Linked From Jon Wertheim/SI.com!

Well how did this happen?

My little blog about trying to help you get ready for the Bluegrass Open and the great city of Louisville was linked through Jon Wertheim's column on si.com.  Imagine my surprise!  I read Jon's column every week.  I didn't know Todd Bird, co-tournament director for the Bluegrass Open, sent my blog along to John.  I found out when I clicked on the link when I was reading his column this week.  Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

So I figured I would make a quick post to catch all of you up who are just checking this out because Jon linked it.
  • The Bluegrass Open is a tournament stop on the GLTA World Tour.  The GLTA World Tour sanctions nearly 40 tournaments all over the world where nearly 5500 GLBT people will compete on various levels from beginner to intermediate to open play.
  • I'm writing about this because I didn't really know what to expect when I started playing tournaments back about six years.  I hope to give new people and those attending the Louisville tournament for the firs time some idea of what they can expect when they get there.
  • Another reason I'm writing this is because I am a graduate student in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte.  As part of a class I'm taking this summer-Creativity and Innovation with Dr. Kim Gregory-we had to write about something we are passionate about.  I am passionate about how we can use sports to connect with others.  I love the community and friends I've made on the GLTA tour and I hope others will have a similar experience.  I think a lot of GLBT people, particularly gay men, shy away from sport thinking they don't fit into that world.  I love that the GLTA and other sports organizations aimed towards the GLBT community offer a forum to get involved.
So there ya have it.  Please read through the posts and get a feel for what to expect if you want to compete in the Louisville tournament or any other stops on the GLTA tour or just learn about something you might not have known existed.  I've even managed to include posts about how I'm getting old and how Lil' Mama gets my pumped up before a match, and no, I don't wear lip gloss.  You can even still register for the tournament if you want to play.  The deadline to enter is this Saturday, June 18th.

And stop back later this week;  It's time to shed a little light on the banquet in Louisville and everyone's best friend, Lola!  Lola's kind of like Maude (you know, that show from the 70's Maude with Bea Arthur) only Maude was prettier and way more butch than Lola.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Lip Gloss Be Poppin!

Finally, about a year ago, I got an iPhone.  It was like magic.  Generally, I'm resistant to technology because I can't figure the damn stuff out.  But my friend Gerardo was upgrading to the iPhone 4 and he gave me his old phone.  Great friend...I know!

It seems like every time I go to one of these tournaments, there's a song or two that become part of the tournament soundtrack in my mind.  And it's always something weird too that makes it happen.  Like at the Louisville tournament about four years ago when a certain someone walked around singing aloud Danity Kane's Damaged...non-stop!  It was funny because I don't even think he realized he was doing it.  And way back at my first tournament in a moment of dramaness (see earlier blog post) I yelled to the heavens:  Jesus Take The Wheel.  I think that was even in a match against Bluegrass Co-Tournament Director Todd Bird.  And one of my favorite soundtrack songs is Lip Gloss by Lil' Mama.  My friend Louie just broke out in a song and dance number to that song during one of our doubles matches.  These songs just get stuck in my head.  Do you know how embarrassing it is as a 39 year old man to be walking around the supermarket singing "my lip gloss be cool, my lip gloss be poppin, I'm standing at my locker, and all the boys be stopping?"  Any wonder why I'm single?  And I didn't even tell you why Candy by Mandy Moore is a soundtrack song.  I've got to keep some of the mystery.

Right about now you're probably wondering what my friend Gerardo has to do with my trip down soundtrack memory road.  Well now, with my iPhone, I get to make playlists!  I know, I know, you've probably already been doing this for years.  But for me, short of creating a mix tape to get the girl in high school (I was confused, my bad), I haven't really made playlists before.  I try to make a playlist before each tournament.  I love listening to these songs while waiting to play.  It congers up great memories from tournaments gone by, and it helps me get focused for my matches.

So it's about that time-time to get the Louisville 2011 playlist together.  I've got some of these old soundtrack songs that I'll include, but I need help coming up with some new additions.  What songs do you use to get you motivated and pumped up?  What would you include on your tournament soundtrack?  Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Help Those Who Help Us

Hey, times are tough out there.  No doubt about it.  So if you're like me, it's hard to play all the GLTA tournaments you want.  Between travel, hotel expenses, and beer money, these tournaments can get pricey quickly, and that doesn't even include the entry fees to even be able to play.

At a quick glance, $113 for entry into two events for Louisville seems like a lot of money just to play some tennis matches.  Compared to some of the other tournaments out there, it's actually pretty reasonably priced.  The only one I've seen cheaper is the GLTA stop in Raleigh.  I've never been on a host committee for a tournament, but I'm sure there are a lot of expenses involved. From court costs and snacks and meals at the tournament site to the banquets and the draw parties, the money put out to put on one of these tournaments can get out of hand for these committees pretty fast.  All things considered, $113 is pretty reasonable.

What makes it all the more reasonable is the fact that the Bluegrass Open is also a fundraiser.  Last year, in its inaugural year, the tournament was able to make a $2000 donation to House of Ruth.  House of Ruth is a Louisville area non-profit group that works with both families and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.  Many of us are involved with similar organizations in our own communities.  While HIV/AIDS can affect anyone, it's still a crisis in the gay community, our community, and House of Ruth does a lot of great work for our brothers in the Kentuckiana area.

And for you gamblers out there, you'll have plenty of opportunity to support House of Ruth through the raffle at the banquet.  All money from the tickets sold for the raffle goes to House of Ruth.  If you were at the banquet last year, you'll not only remember that I was shamefully overlooked for the Hot Daddy of the Tournament award when that honor went to that Josh from Indy, but that there were some ticket queens there who thought they could get a seat on the Board of Directors for House of Ruth by buying raffle tickets.  That, or they were enamoured by that hottie selling tickets in his underwear.  Either way, a lot of money was raised and it all went to House of Ruth.

Nelson Knight, TALK Vice President, giving Linda Underwood, Executive Director of House of Ruth a check for $2000, money raised at last year's tournament.
So even though times are tough, register for the tournament!  Go and have some fun, play some tennis, buy some raffle tickets, and more importantly, help those who help us.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Give me the Hardware!

We don't play these GLTA tournaments for any money that's for sure.  We do play for fun, but more importantly, we want the hardware.  We want the trophies that come with winning or being a finalist at one of these tournaments.  Give me the hardware!

Before I got bumped up to A's, I used to occasionally get to the late rounds of some of these tournaments, particularly in doubles.  I've even won two events:  Tampa and Louisville.  Back then the Louisville tournament was the KY Open (insert laugh here).  We got the coolest hardware for winning that year:  a silver mint julep cup and a bottle of Makers Mark-yum!


It got me to wondering-what's the best hardware you've won or seen at one of these GLTA tournaments?  What's the best trophy you've seen anywhere for winning a sporting event?