Collaroy Hosts First Ever Tennis Pride Day on the Northern Beaches

Collaroy TennisEvents

AO Pride Night

What a brilliant event to kick off the New Year! Our club won a grant from Tennis Australia to host a Pride event in conjunction with AO Pride Day in Melbourne – the first ever such event held (27th January 2023) by a tennis club on the Northern Beaches. And it was a HUGE success!

An AO Rainbow Flag flew proudly next to our club’s sign at the front gate and the whole club was a sea of colour. Rainbow flags were hung on the gate of every court, rainbow bunting at the entrance to and on the back wall of the clubhouse and hand-held rainbow flags featured as the centerpiece on every table, (which held both savoury and sweet treats lovingly prepared by Kate Byrne and Ros Ode). To add flavour, the AO Semi-Finals were shown on a big screen TV.

The main presentation table was decorated beautifully by Club Secretary Fiona Bevan with a rainbow cloth, a quote from a famous LGBT activist on display along with giant letters spelling out PRIDE and a message block reading GAME, SET, LOVE. Winners’ trophies and medallions featuring the Club’s new Pride Logo were on display nearby.

AO Pride Night trophies

The evening started at around 4:40pm with a welcome speech that acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land and a thank you to Tennis Australia for including us in this great initiative. The theme of the speech centered on the fact that EVERYONE is always welcome at this club and that with this event, we were specifically extending a welcome to all tennis players identifying as LGBTQIA+.

Ricke, Mark, Tony & Eric

No less than 36 players entered the American Round Robin Tournament that kicked off proceedings, one from as far away as Canberra. There were 16 Collaroy Members and 20 Non-Member Visitors. Clubs / organisations represented included Reid Tennis Club (Canberra), Hills District Tennis Association (Castle Hill/Dural Park), Killara Tennis Club, Tennis Sydney (Centennial Parklands Sports Centre, Moore Park), Kooroora Tennis Club, Tennis Valley, Lane Cove and Allambie Tennis Clubs.

En-Lai cheer squad
En-Lai Cheer Squad

At least 20 non-playing spectators also turned up, either to cheer on friends or family or just join in the social side of the event. One player even had his own 6-member Cheer Squad, complete with an AO-like fan sign that was waved enthusiastically whenever he was on court.

Heavy rain washed out the last matches of the tournament, but by then the winners had largely been determined and Tony and Eric were already cooking up a storm on the BBQ, so it just gave everyone an excuse to start socialising early.

Prior to the presentation of trophies, James Asimus from GayCare Australia spoke from the heart about the sad history of homophobia on the northern beaches and the importance of events like this in engaging the local community and building awareness of the need for LGBTQIA+ people to feel part of their community.

He sincerely thanked the Club for its efforts in promoting inclusion and his speech was very well received by everyone in the room.

We were honoured that Nikita Sayle (Head of Inclusion and Diversity Programming – Tennis NSW) attended the event. We even managed to get her on court to play a couple of matches as a substitute and she happily presented trophies and gave a short speech herself at the presentation. The Club is now looking forward to participating in the ‘Rainbow Ready Clubs Program’ that Nikita is organising on behalf of Tennis NSW.

Anna and Nikita
Club Member Anna Cosio with Tennis NSW’s Head of Inclusion, Diversity & Programming, Nikita Sayle

Feedback both on the evening and post-event was universally positive. One visiting non-member said he’d just made a presentation to IBM Australia about the importance of inclusion and diversity for their company. He was genuinely amazed by the commitment of a grass roots community organisation such as ours in this space and congratulated the Club and TA on the initiative.

Another visiting player had such a good time, he said to organisers: “I want to be the first player entered for next year’s event!” There were many more comments on the night saying how incredibly friendly everyone at Collaroy was, how much fun they had and what a great club we have.

It was enough to make us all feel very proud to be members.

And get ready… there’s another major event on the horizon. The Club has won a grant from Northern Beaches Council to host an Open Day on Saturday 4th March in conjunction with Sydney WorldPride 2023 – the biggest international event to be held in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics! More news on that shortly.

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