A Welcoming Sport
The Philadelphia Liberty Tennis Association (PLTA) is making tennis even more open in Philadelphia. As the busy summer season is now underway, the organization is preparing for the return of its annual Philadelphia Open.
It’s safe to say that the excitement level is high.
“Last year was our first tournament back since COVID,” said David Killian, a longtime member of PLTA who has served as Tournament Director for 11 years. “The event sold out in three hours. It really was crazy.”
The tournament, which is part of the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA), takes place at the University of Pennsylvania Tennis Center, and is a tradition with the organization. This year from August 19-21, it will welcome in players from Florida, Texas, California, Hawaii and London, among others.
But as much as the tournament brings a crowd, PLTA is about much more than one event.
“There’s such a hunger for tennis right now, and this organization gives us a chance to unite through a common interest and a love for tennis,” said Jeff Plegaria, the current President of PLTA. “We have a safe space here with our organization. It’s a place where people don’t experience some of the toxic behavior they may see or feel elsewhere."
That toxic behavior is something PLTA is looking to change across the board. By helping to educate more of the population about LGBTQ+, Plegaria and other leaders in the organization hope to see more openness toward individuals who identify in that group. In addition to partnering with local organizations and acting as a support group for people in need, PLTA has donated more than $20,000 to local charities and organizations in recent years.
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USTA Middle States is once again partnering with PLTA to sponsor the event.
"This is one of our longstanding partnerships, and we’re so happy to see the growth of PLTA and all the opportunities that the organization provides,” said Renee Bridges, USTA Middle States Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Middle States is excited to be involved with the tournament again this year.”
As tennis grows at a record pace, PLTA sees similar growth. The organization is nearing 100 members — nearly double its membership from the start of the year.
What many don’t realize? You don’t need to identify as LGBTQ+ to join. Friends, supporters and anyone who loves tennis can consider joining and serve as an advocate for tennis.
In all, the members of PLTA help make up part of the diverse and thriving tennis community in the Philadelphia area — combining competition and a love for tennis with camaraderie, friendship, and a safe place for anyone and everyone to be themselves.
“We are really excited about what we have happening right now and all that’s to come,” Plegaria said. “We love the support we’ve had this year and coming together with this group.”