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Missouri Valley / St. Louis

Love Wins Tournament Set for September

Josh Sellmeyer | June 02, 2022

After a successful first go-around last year, Team Saint Louis is set to run the Love Wins tennis tournament and pickleball social again this September. Team Saint Louis — an all-inclusive sports and social activities organization with a focus on the local LGBTQ community — is coordinating the event in conjunction with the two-day Tower Grove Pride festival.


Team Saint Louis hosted its first-ever tennis tournament last year with the Love Wins event. The tourney previously had been operated by Scott Stinson and Sharon Taysi. The 2021 iteration featured 18 tennis participants and 42 pickleball players. Jamie Hansen — TSL board member and public relations & social outreach coordinator as well as Love Wins tournament director — is hoping to up the ante this year.

 

“Last year was really successful,” Hansen said. “Everyone had a nice time. It was good to get our feet wet on a smaller scale. This year, we’re hoping to be a little bigger and have some more people come in. It’s a great event and we’re just really, really happy to have it.”

 

Anyone 18 & Over can participate, as USTA members can sign up via Serve Tennis while non-members can register via the Team Saint Louis website. Cost to participate is $42, which includes food, drinks and a T-shirt as well. Proceeds go to the Team Saint Louis organization and Tower Grove Pride.

 

“It’s just a great time to raise money for a really top-notch organization in Tower Grove Pride,” Hansen said. “And then bring to light — especially with the climate right now — LGBTQ issues. As well as shining a light on our organization providing sporting opportunities for LGBTQ folks. I’m really looking forward to it.”

In addition to the tennis tournament, the Love Wins event also features a doubles pickleball social. Participants receive a number then progress to play alongside various partners and against different opponents throughout the evening. Pickleball has become a mainstay for Team Saint Louis, as the organization has run Thursday night socials at Willmore Park for nearly a year.

 

Hansen is hoping to expand that concept to tennis down the line. Hansen is heavily involved in USTA, as she is in an 18 & Over women’s league, 40 & Over 6.0 and 7.0 mixed leagues and a 40 & Over league during the summer. She recently worked for about a year as USTA Missouri Valley digital content producer prior to taking a job with Nestle Purina as communications specialist.

Hansen has been on the Team Saint Louis board since 2019 and participates in some of the group’s other offerings — kickball in the fall and volleyball from October until May. Hansen grew up in small-town Nebraska and struggled to find adequate support for what she was going through. When she moved to St. Louis in the late 1990s and discovered TSL, something clicked.

 

“I didn’t come out until I was 30, which is really late,” Hansen said. “I started with Team Saint Louis playing kickball, and I kind of found my people — not just the LGBTQ part, but just people who got it. I want to have this kind of event to showcase Team Saint Louis is still here. We want to have allies as well as LGBTQ people feel comfortable going out for sports, bottom line.

 

“That’s why it matters to me. I want to have kids who have grown up maybe as I have — or even if you have a supportive family and a really good support system — to say, ‘It’s OK. This is your safe space.’ That’s why I continue to try to get LGBTQ issues and opportunities for socialization in athletics in the forefront.”

 

Hansen noted even though tennis is perhaps one of the more inclusive sports available to adults, there is still work to be done to get LGBTQ individuals participating in athletics. Team Saint Louis has been at the helm of that push locally, as the group started in the ‘80s by offering Tuesday night volleyball at the Salvation Army. Hansen said that “was almost a secret” back then.

 

“Team Saint Louis is able to provide those opportunities for people who maybe don’t feel comfortable going to a social event that’s not LGBTQ-related, or they’ve never played sports before or maybe their memories of sports aren’t the best,” Hansen said. “If you’ve been ridiculed because you’ve never played a sport before, come play volleyball. We have a rec league. Same with kickball.

 

“It’s just about having a great time and really enjoying the people you’re with. That’s the place Team Saint Louis holds. It’s a place where it’s safe to be not only who you are, but to express yourself in ways that maybe you aren’t outside the organization.”

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