Sports Spotlight

By Brian Cheese June 2, 2011

Categories: Our Scene, Sports

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Minnesota Rallies Tennis

The sports offerings in the Cities are quite varied. To the casual athlete or social player, figuring out how to get hooked up with a team to play on can be frustrating. Unless you know someone, chances are you might not simply stumble across a team, or find what you’re looking for.

I had been trying to figure out how someone might get onto a tennis club, with little success. Then, out of nowhere came a couple of guys from Minnesota Rallies, a local organization that is part of a larger group called the Gay and Lesbian Amateur Sports Society (GLASS). Two of their administrators/players, Tyler Copeland and Neil Burghardt, helped answer my question: Where are all those tennis players?

Minnesota Rallies, founded in the 1990s, helps to organize social tennis matches locally for GLBT tennis players. While not exactly a tennis club, it does get players in touch with each other to play matches on their own schedule.

It really is more like a social tennis experience for individuals who are looking for someone to play tennis with, and who want to make friends and socialize with other tennis players. Think of it as a match.com for tennis players.

“We know there are a lot of tennis players, but they don’t know how to get tapped in,” Copeland said. “There is a misconception of being supercompetitive, but it’s not true at all.”

Copeland and Burghardt encourage everyone from all levels to get in touch with them to find matches to play. Right now, they match players of all levels, from beginners to competitive major tournament players.

As Burghardt described it, “There is no sense of exclusion with levels of play at all, because you set up your own matches.”

Minnesota Rallies coordinates two summer tennis-playing opportunities.

The first is summer tennis at Powderhorn Park, every Saturday at 10 AM. Simply e-mail <mnralliestennis@yahoo.com> to get on the mailing list.

The second is the ladder tennis program, where you pick people to challenge to a match; report your score; and, depending on how well you do, move up or down the ladder. This option can be slightly competitive, but the players are more focused on the social aspect of meeting other players.

If you’re looking for a fun tennis adventure, check out the annual tournament hosted by Minnesota Rallies, the North Country Classic, now in its 18th year, which will be held June 3-5 at Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota.
Having solved the mystery of the missing tennis teams, I focused my attention on another group of athletes I only see once a year in action. They are the volleyball players, who only seem to come out during the Pride Festival in Loring Park. I wanted to know what that was all about. As it happens, GLASS also organizes volleyball opportunities in much the same way as it does tennis.
Volleyball

There isn’t really a GLBT volleyball league. While no volleyball leagues currently are in session, I couldn’t help but wonder where these players come from. As it turns out, GLASS provides pickup volleyball nights in the fall and winter, by which GLBT teams form for league play through the City of Minneapolis.

These are the teams we see playing at the Pride Festival every year. The Pride Volleyball Tournament will take place in Loring Park on June 25.

During the fall and winter volleyball seasons, teams are available based on skill, ranging from recreational to competitive, so they have room for anyone who wants to play.

For more information, visit www.glasssports.org.

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