Craig Ellenport | June 27, 2019
The month of June is LGBTQ Pride Month, but that doesn’t mean inclusion and acceptance can’t be practiced year-round. Pride Month may be coming to an end, but USTA Texas is working with one LGBTQ group in its section to host an event later this summer that will bring LGBTQ families together through tennis.
The Rainbow Roundup, a nonprofit organization that promotes acceptance in all aspects of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning families, is working with USTA Texas to host a one-day tennis clinic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Kimberly Kantor, who founded Rainbow Roundup in 2012, grew up playing tennis—her father was a tennis coach in upstate New York.
“It was a passion of mine,” said Kantor. “It’s been a lifetime sport for me. I always thought it would be great to partner for an event, and it has finally come to fruition with the USTA.”ADVERTISEMENT
Kantor’s connection with USTA grew out of another program called Sets in the City, a lesbian tennis group started on Facebook that was meeting for weekly tennis opportunities to connect and play.
The plan for Rainbow Roundup was presented to Mike Carter, director of Net Generation strategy at USTA Texas, and he immediately liked the idea.
“I’m excited about it,” said Carter. “I think they’re a pretty good-sized group, and I’m excited to work with them.”
Rainbow Roundup started with 19 people in a closed Facebook group in 2012, and the group has since grown to more than 2,500 people. Kantor said it is one of the largest LGBTQ family groups in the nation.
“We definitely have more LGBTQ parents that are part of the group, but we also are absolutely serving families with kids that identify as LGBTQ, as well as allies. We love to have our allies join us, as well, because the more people that we connect with, the more hearts and minds we can change, the better.”
For the USTA’s part, Carter is proud to be one of those allies.
“I can only speak to USTA Texas having such a strong leader in Marcos Valdez, our director of diversity and inclusion,” Carter said. “We just have a really robust plan to engage groups, such as Rainbow Roundup, to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in tennis. We’re a very inclusion-based organization. We have relationships and partnerships with various LGBTQ groups throughout Texas. We’ve got lots of different partnerships with different organizations like that. Rainbow Roundup will just be another one that we add to the list. We just love engaging and spreading the good word of tennis to everybody.”
Rainbow Roundup’s mission is to serve and strengthen the community through social activities, education and connecting resources to individuals. Resources is a big part of it.
“At the time I started the organization, there just weren’t resources out there for families,” Kantor said. “There were definitely places to connect to for adults and even youth groups for kids. There just weren’t the things that I was looking for to connect families and share resources. We didn’t know what fertility specialists were LGBTQ friendly. We didn’t know about pediatricians, lawyers, attorneys, things like that. That was when it started in 2012. It’s been great for all of our families to be able to share with each other.”
As far as social activities, Rainbow Roundup has hosted events, like zoo trips, camping trips and swim parties, but Kantor said this will be the first sport education program they’ve held. “We’d love to make it a regular event,” she said. “I think it’s important for families.”
Carter said he expects the clinic to be more of an agility camp.
“It will really focus on the ABC’s—ability, balance, coordination and speed. Stuff that’s applicable to all sports,” he said.
“My job with Rainbow Roundup will be, let’s get ‘em moving. Let’s get them having some fun, sweating, and then, yeah, we’ll put a racquet in their hands and let them play a little tennis, too. That window for kiddos to learn athletic skills is really pretty short. By the time they’re in middle school, that window for them to absorb and to learn and improve their athletic skills starts to close. So while those kids are young and can learn these skills, let’s get it going. That’s my plan for this one.”
For Kantor, the event will be a unique opportunity to combine her passion for tennis with her dedication to Rainbow Roundup.
“I feel that it’s a great sport for all ages, a wonderful lifetime sport,” she said. “I guess because I’m passionate about it, I’d like to see other kids that it would maybe spark an interest in, that they’d never had an opportunity to play the sport.”
For more about Rainbow Roundup, click here.
Photo courtesy of Rainbow Roundup