Tennis is a Hit at Portland Pride Celebration
Alex Wesley, Director of Marketing | June 26, 2018
PORTLAND, ME – In what is one of the largest annual Pride celebrations in New England, about 15,000 people descended on downtown Portland to celebrate the LGBT community on Saturday, June 16. Event organizers said it was the biggest Portland Pride Parade in its more than 40-year history.
Amongst the enthusiastic crowds, local tennis director, Lisa Wilcott, set up courts on a grassy area at the end of the parade and had nearly 150 people try out the sport throughout the day.
“Our original plan was to do free lessons on six public courts but the courts were too far away from the celebration, so we improvised. We brought three nets onto the grass in the middle of the celebration. We also set up tape as nets making a total of five make-shift courts,” said Wilcott, Tennis Director of York Golf and Tennis Club.ADVERTISEMENT
“There was a huge diverse group of people there. Families, mixed families and people in all sorts of outfits were having a great time. It was a fun atmosphere to play tennis.”
Wilcott and her group of volunteers marched with 160 other groups in the parade and gave out rainbow pride bracelets. USTA New England supported the efforts with a Diversity and Inclusion Celebration Grant.
“The celebration grant is used to promote new or expand USTA tennis programming in local communities. It is of upmost importance to us to promote inclusivity within tennis and we are so happy Lisa is promoting this culture in Portland and beyond in the state of Maine,” said Chantal Roche, USTA New England Diversity and Inclusion Manager.
On the courts, Wilcott and her group met many people who had never picked up a racquet before. The first 50 adults and 10 kids without racquets were given one.
“The great members of York Golf and Tennis Club donated racquets to support our presence at the Pride event. We were able to give racquets to people who clearly had never played before and wouldn’t have a racquet without us. Hopefully they continue playing,” said Wilcott.
They also gave out free low compression tennis balls for people to practice with at home. Overall, the day was a great success and Wilcott was proud to have tennis be a part of it.
“It was great to see how many people - young and older - were having fun on the courts. It was great first experience for everyone and hopefully they continue playing.”