Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tennis, Anyone?

Published in Next Magazine, May 20, 2011
Tennis, anyone?
by Jeff Kagan

As Memorial Day approaches, the birds sing, the flowers bloom, the boys hit the gym with a determined dedication and the ferryboats prepare to escort joyful travelers across the waterways to the Pines of Fire Island. Back on the “mainland” in Flushing Meadows, Queens, Stuart Levy prepares for an onslaught of racquet-wielding athletes at the Metropolitan Tennis Group’s Marsha Day Memorial MTG Club Championships!

Marsha Day was a very active board member of the Metropolitan Tennis Group (MTG) for many years. Additionally, she was heavily involved with LGBT sports as one of the organizers for the 1994 Gay Games in New York City. However, the public issue most important to Marsha revolved around LGBT youth and runaways. She started the first 24-hour emergency hotline for runaway and homeless youth. When she died in 2001 after a long battle with brain cancer, the board of MTG passed a resolution to remember her legacy by naming their annual Club Championships in her honor.

“The Marsha Day tournament begins on Saturday morning, May 28th, and runs through Monday afternoon,” says Levy, who has been the director of the annual event for the past five years.  “It benefits the Marsha Day Memorial Fund and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), two organizations very important to so many of our members,” he says. The tournament, which usually fetches up to 150 players, is held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the US Open.

Levy joined the MTG board in 2000, taking on the role of treasurer, and he’s been in that position ever since. A native of Bellmore, Long Island, Levy grew up playing Little League but never felt like he had any natural athletic ability. It was difficult for him to enjoy the games as he was persistently teased, causing him to lose interest in sports: “I saw myself as the stereotypical gay boy who was too effeminate. I excelled in theatre and got positive recognition there so I tended to avoid playing sports when I could.”

As many gay athletes often do, Levy re-discovered his “love” for sports as an adult. In 1999, he did an online search using the terms ‘gay’, ‘tennis’ and ‘New York’ and he found MTG. “I wanted to get some more exercise, and I had always loved watching tennis on television.” he said.

Levy is no longer the intimidated kid he was years ago -- he’s been called the Energizer Bunny on the courts, and he’s known for his speed and his wide-legged splits (ooh…).  MTG has helped him find his voice and grow as a person. He says, “It wasn’t just a question of accepting who I am, but not feeling that I had to be any type of person. I was able to embrace the fact that you can have masculine and feminine traits and it does not change or hurt who you are.”

Learn more about the Metropolitan Tennis Group and the Marsha Day Memorial MTG Club Championships at www.metrotennisgroup.com.  Don’t miss MTG’s Liberty Open over July 4th Holiday Weekend!
Rock It: Good things are happening at CRUX, the LGBT Climbing Club. 25 kids from The Ali Forney Center joined 25 climbers for some “hanging around” at Brooklyn Boulders in March.  Way to go! More at www.lgbtclimbing.com.

Dunk It: The NYC Gay Basketball League was well represented in the Coady Roundball Classic (a National Gay Basketball Tournament) in Chicago, April 16th-19th. These baller babes were led by sharp shooting from Bryant Mills, Jeremie Knight and defense from Greg Springs and Andrew Johnstone. Key playmakers Michael Davis, Antonio Hicks, Vince Moten and Ric Firmino impressed the fans. No trophies, but legends were made. More at www.nycgaybasketball.org.

Wet it: Look out, Flipper!  The swimmers of Team New York Aquatics are going to blow you out of the water!  Here are some times from the recent swim meet at Asphalt Green in NYC: Gavin Simpson was a superstar sprinter with big time drops in the 50 Free (25.9) and 100 Free (56.81); Anthony Reen, quick in the 100 (1:02.32) and even faster in the 50 (28.43); Greg Pierotti, swimming in his first meet after a long break:  50 Fly (30.18); Brilliant Breaststroke Michael Goldring with his fantastic technique:  100 (1:30.61); Speed and Versatility: Onesimo DeMira – What a meet: 400 IM (5:06.92).  More at www.tnya.org.

Sink it: Congratulations to all of the NY Gay Pool League winning teams this year:  The BOXERS are Playoff Champions & Regular Season Runners-up, EAGLE NYC is a Regular Season Champ; BOXERS’ BRIEFS are Playoffs Runner-up; and the Amsterdam BC & Chi-Chiz Elite are Playoffs Semi-finalists. More at www.nygpl.org.

Ice It: Congratulations to the Wizards, the New York City Gay Hockey Association's Division 7B team, who took second place in the Fall 2010 season at Chelsea Piers Sky Rink. They went on to beat the third-place Hornets in a nail-biting overtime shootout to make it to the finals, where they captured the silver medal against the Rampaging Moose.  Better luck next season, boys… More at www.nycgayhockey.org.