What a brilliant event to kick off the New Year! Once again, our club was awarded a grant from Tennis Australia to host a Pride event in conjunction with AO Pride Day in Melbourne. This followed on from the success of the inaugural AO Pride Night event in 2023 and our huge Sydney WorldPride event in March last year.
An AO Rainbow Flag flew proudly next to our club’s sign at the front gate, a rainbow pathway led through a floral arbor to the clubhouse and the whole club was a sea of colour, helped more than a little by the ‘Bold and Bright’ tennis gear that everyone was encouraged to wear. Giant cut-out letters announced C O L L A R O Y P R I D E with the latter word in lights. A HUGE thank you to Fiona for overseeing the dressing of the Club and to her team of volunteers including Tony, Kenny, Martin, Sue, Kate, Eric, Gareth and Anna G. – (apologies to anyone I missed).
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 mini-rainbow flags featured as the centerpiece on every table, (which held both savoury and sweet treats lovingly prepared by Kate, Ros and others). To add flavor, the AO Semi-Finals were shown on our big screen TV.
The evening started with our now traditional ‘Welcome to Country’ smoking ceremony, presented by Gadigal Elder, Uncle Neil – a direct descendant of the people who first inhabited the land on which our club now stands.
In the early absence of organiser Dave Keogh (still on his way from the airport after returning from the AO Pride Day conference in Melbourne – see accompanying story), Committee Member Kenny Moyle stepped up to the plate and delivered a welcome speech from the Club. He thanked Tennis Australia for including Collaroy in this great initiative and reinforced the Club’s philosophy that EVERYONE is always welcome at our Club. He mentioned that with this event in particular, we were specifically extending a welcome to all tennis players identifying as LGBTQIA+.
Anna C. and Lynne then directed players to their respective courts for the start of the American Round Robin Tournament, explained the format and assigned Court Captains to each court.
Some 50 players registered for the event, roughly half and half, members v non-members. There were players from other clubs including Tennis Sydney, Kooroora and Lane Cove and a large contingent from Tennis Seniors NSW. A friend of Wil’s travelled all the way from Brisbane to participate! More people turned up to simply cheer on the play and join in the social side of things. We were honoured to have all Co-Founders of our Event Partner, Fusion Pride Northern Beaches, in attendance AND taking to the court.
Matches were played competitively but in a spirit of Fun and a winner and runner up per court were later presented with stunning medallions organised by Wil, featuring the CTC Pride Logo. All prizes were presented by Brendan Pomponio of Club Sponsor, Belle Property.
Please see Photo Gallery at the bottom for more happy, colourful snaps.
Special thanks to our ‘Tong Masters’ for the night – Col and Eric – who cooked up a storm on the BBQ, as everyone joined in the post-tournament socialising.
After the presentation of medallions, Sean Moran and Charity King from Fusion Pride Northern Beaches spoke from the heart about 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. They sincerely thanked the Club for its efforts in promoting inclusion and their speech was very well received by all present.
Feedback from members and non-members alike was universally positive. Several LGBTQ players commented that they’d never been made to feel more welcome and accepted at such an event.
Charity King, Co-Founder of Fusion Pride, commented:
“Thank you for including us in such an incredible community event. The Club pulled off a spectacular evening. I had the BEST first tennis playing experience and can’t wait for more. Everyone was so kind, patient, helpful and accommodating… and my wife Peta is now a newly crowned Tennis Champ.! We are all looking forward to joining in the Rainbow Ready program at Collaroy this year.”
One player who had such a good time at our 2023 AO Pride event stayed true to his promise of being among the first players to enter this year. And he turned up wearing a full Scottish kilt and tam o’ shanter cap! 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. A special thanks to all the event organisers, notably Dave and Anna C., Fiona, Kate, Glenn, Kenny, Lynne, Ros, Vito and Wil.