By Jeff Praught | Dugout Chatter
The San Diego Tennis Federation (SDTF), founded in 1983, is one of the largest LGBT tennis leagues in the nation with over 200 members. The popular organization provides ample opportunity for players to compete, or even just practice, with other players of varying skill level. The SDTF holds events such as Team Tennis, Promiscuous Doubles (where partners swap every 20 minutes on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m.), a Singles Challenge Ladder (players climb up the “ladder” by earning points for each victory), Singles League (held on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.), and the popular Friday Night Doubles at Balboa Tennis Center (2221 Morley Field Drive).
SDTF is active both socially and philanthropically within our community. The group participates in AIDS Walk and donates to causes such as the Imperial Court de San Diego’s “Toys for Kids” drive and Feeding America San Diego. It also hosts its own large tournament called San Diego Open every July 4th weekend. This year’s event marked the 30th San Diego Open in event history. Fourteen champions were crowned in various categories, including Over-40 competitions in both singles and doubles. Participants travel from across the country and the tournament even draws a few international entrants.
Newcomers to San Diego’s tennis scene are strongly encouraged to gain their introduction to SDTF by showing up on Fridays. Sign-ups for Friday Night Doubles are at 6 p.m., with matches beginning an hour later. Skill levels range from beginners to experts. Membership is just $48 per year, plus a $12 initiation fee. For more info, visit sdtf.org.
For those looking for a new social activity to explore, the month of September marks the beginning of the fall season for the Rainbow League and High Rollers League within our LGBT bowling circuit. Each league runs 32 weeks, taking you into April, and bowlers pay $20 a week to participate. A team consists of five men or women (gay or straight), and a team can have alternates.
New players spend their first three weeks establishing a handicap, a means of establishing sort of a median expected average of how you would normally bowl. Starting the fourth week, that handicap is then used and retroactively applied to the previous three results. The handicap system allows players of all skill levels to compete against each other. For example, if someone with a 220 handicap faces an opponent with a 120 handicap, we would normally expect the former bowler to wipe out the latter. However, these leagues are more about how well you perform in relation to your established handicap. So the latter bowler gets 100 bonus pins, and from there, the results are a comparison to that night’s performance in relation to the handicaps of each bowler.
The season is broken up into trimesters and the team with the most wins during each trimester clinches a spot in the Roll-Off at the end of the season. One wild card team also advances, offering a field of four teams that compete for cash prizes. Individual prizes are also awarded for High Scratch Series, High Scratch Game, High Handicap Series and High Handicap game. No individual may win more than one of those categories, guaranteeing that at least four people win money in those individual categories.
The league also holds a popular 50-50 raffle drawing each week. Players buy in to win cash prizes, with half the money going to local charities. If a player’s name is drawn in the raffle, the whole bowling alley stops to watch them try to win the pot. If they roll a strike, they win the money. If they roll a spare, they get a small token amount of cash and the pot rolls over to the following week.
The High Rollers League takes place on Wednesday nights at Kearny Mesa Bowl, while the Rainbow League hits the lanes on Thursday evenings. Practice begins at 6:30 p.m. and individual newcomers are encouraged to come by at 6:15 p.m. to get involved. For more information on these leagues and how to get your team involved, contact David Hilbish (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Judy Thompson (email@example.com). Sign up soon, as September is just a month away!
Other leagues starting soon
Softball players can get involved with America’s Finest City Softball League (afcsl.org) by joining AFCSL’s abbreviated fall season, which begins in September. This season is typically six weeks long, as opposed to the normal 10-week spring season, but “fall ball” affords newcomers the opportunity to get their name out there and find teams for the spring. The league also hosts its annual Autumn Classic tournament here every Columbus Day weekend, bringing in over 90 teams from across the country in a typical year.
Basketball players can look forward to the lengthy fall season of San Diego Hoops (sdhoops.net), which typically begins sometime in October after a few weeks of Open Gym. The league has begun playing games at the Boys & Girls Club in Linda Vista for the first time, using this year’s summer league as a test for the new gym. The fall season, which runs into March, has been around since the league’s founding in 1999.
—Jeff Praught is actively involved in the LGBT sports community, having participated in softball, basketball, football and pool as a player, and serving on several boards in recent years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.