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Posts Tagged ‘Taube’

PostHeaderIcon Tournament Director Michele Yin Leads the Charge at the 2013 United States Gay Open

USGO 2013

Memorial Day Weekend in San Francisco can only mean one thing: hundreds of LGBT tennis players descending on the city, then driving down to Stanford’s Taube Tennis Stadium for a weekend of tennis, fun, and sun.

Hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Federation (GLTF) of the San Francisco Bay Area, the United States Gay Open (USGO) is one of the largest LGBT tennis tournaments in the world. That’s an incredible feat given that the GLTF is an entirely volunteer organization.  The logistics of (successfully) pulling off an event of this magnitude can be daunting for paid professionals, let alone a GLTF member volunteer.


Speaking from past experience as director for the ’04 USGO, the best plan of attack is to surround yourself with great people. In that vein, this year’s USGO is in the very capable hands of tournament director Michele Yin, along with her triumvirate of co-directors Craig Sabol, Larissa Ivanoff, and Lynne Riedesel. Gordon Crenshaw is the tournament’s World Team Tennis Coordinator.

Michele and her crew have been hard at work for the past several months planning and executing a great weekend for all in San Francisco and Palo Alto. The final week before the tournament is the craziest time for any director, but I managed to grab Michele for a quick Q&A. Thankfully, she was only partially-crazed, and extremely gracious with her time and responses. 🙂

How long have you been a member of the GLTF? Were you involved on the board prior to becoming the USGO tournament director?

I joined the GLTF in 2008. Shortly after joining, I was recruited to finish out the year as the board secretary. I stayed on the board for another year and took on the communications director role.

(When I hear someone say “recruited” with respect to the GLTF Board of Directors, I immediately think “railroaded”. – SFTF)

Why did you decide to take on the challenge of the USGO?

I really enjoy project management — working with a team of people with varied responsibilities towards a common objective with a very concrete result. The challenges of setting budgets, meeting deadlines, and forging relationships — I enjoy all of that.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of running such a large tournament?

I’m really excited to produce an athletic event that draws people from all over. Although I participated as a player in 2010 and 2011, I came in pretty ignorant about what it takes to run this event, so there’s been a huge of amount of learning, too.

Conversely, what’s been the most challenging aspect?

Considering that the GLTF is 100% volunteer-run, it’s a constant challenge to balance my project urgencies with others’ personal priorities. Respecting the people and the time and energy they devote to the GLTF (and, specifically, to the USGO) is hugely important to me. I also hope that I’m not burning folks out.


For those not familiar with the USGO (United States Gay Open), can you give me a quick rundown on the tournament (number of events, participants, etc.)?

This year’s USGO has 229 players (men and women) registered in 18 events, ranging from Open Singles to a World Team Tennis format event. Most of the participants are from the United States, but the tournament also has international entrants from Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and Italy; even as far away as New Zealand. You can find the tournament online at http://glta.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/tournament.aspx?id=8AAB5060-327C-4BD7-8EEA-025D9555B450.

What are the highlights of the 2013 tournament?

We decided to cap registration this year to ensure that everyone plays at Stanford (versus a secondary location), and we hit capacity! We’ve got some great venues for our social events — one of which is in Oakland (recently named “most exciting city in America”). Also, we gathered some pretty incredible donations for our raffle and sweet (the lesbian travel company) donated a concierge suite at their luxury resort on the Mexican Riviera which we’re auctioning off. It will be exciting to be able to once again make a charitable donation to East Palo Alto tennis and tutoring, our official beneficiary.

What’s been your funniest moment as the tournament director?

Hmm… a funny moment? I’m struggling to remember one. It’s definitely been a largely positive experience for me. This might be a good to one to ask for the post-USGO piece.

Last question, what have you learned about yourself from taking on such a huge endeavor as the USGO?

I’ve learned that I was probably crazy last July when I said yes to becoming the USGO director. I’ve also learned how fortunate I am to have an excellent planning team and a dedicated board of directors working with me to present what I think will be a really great event.
Check back with me Monday night. : -)

Thanks Michele, and “Good Luck” to all of the tournament participants! The USGO runs from May 24-27 at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Center.
For information on the GLTF, go to: http://gltf.org/.
For information on the USGO, go to: http://gltf.org/usgo.

PostHeaderIcon United States Gay Open 2012: A Chat With Men’s Open Champion Toby Hays

Over 230 tennis players participated in the 2012 United States Gay Open.  Held over the Memorial Day weekend at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Center, champions were crowned in 16 events.

The Men’s Open division has traditionally been the highlight of the Monday finals, as everyone gathers to see the top guys “duke it out”. This year’s winner was Toby Hays from Mountain View, CA. Toby defeated Gordan Paitimusa 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3 in a final punctuated by great shot-making and dramatic shifts in momentum.

I introduced myself to Toby (and his partner Elisban) at the tournament’s Sunday night banquet. There’s often a perception that the Open level players aren’t very friendly or approachable.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth with Toby, who was gracious and very easy to talk to after a long day on the courts.

He agreed to be interviewed for my tournament player profile.  And thankfully, his victory in the final ensured a happy subject for the interview.


When did you start playing tennis? And at what point did you realize you were pretty good at it?

My whole family plays, so I started early – probably age 4 or 5. My parents wanted us to have a “lifetime sport” like tennis or golf, and I gravitated to tennis.

My main sport as a kid was gymnastics, so I did that most of the year, and then I would play junior tennis tournaments in the summer. I had some success, but I wasn’t committed to playing year-round, so I never really broke through into the top level. But I guess high school was the time when I felt like I was playing pretty well.

Did you play all through high school and into college?

I played tennis in high school, and I had a great coach who really helped my game. My junior and senior year I played #1 singles, and senior year I got to the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Also during high school, I transitioned from gymnastics to diving, and diving became my sport. It was easier to stand out as a diver because there are many fewer divers than tennis players. So I competed as a diver in college (Dartmouth) for 4 years.

Did you ever think about pursuing the goal of being a professional player?

I never felt quite that serious about tennis, and never fully committed. My parents really emphasized well-roundedness, so I liked competing in a variety of sports, and I also took academics seriously. I always knew that sports would be a big part of my life, but more as a recreational, fun activity.

How did you get involved with the GLTA circuit of tournaments?

I didn’t play much tennis for about 10 years (during college and medical school). Then I moved to Oakland in 2005 for my pediatric residency (at Children’s Hospital Oakland). I started hitting occasionally with one of my classmates, so I slowly got back into it. Then I met Dave Campbell, ex-USGO tournament director and GLTF member, through a friend of a friend at a party, and he told me about Cal Cup and the GLTA. My first event was Cal Cup in 2008, and that’s actually where I met (my partner) Elisban!

(Note: The Cal Cup competition pits the top players from the GLTA clubs of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.)

I loved watching you guys play doubles, and only afterward discovered that you were “life” partners.  How did you meet? Who spoke to whom first?

We were both recruited for Cal Cup in SF in 2008, but neither of us could get to the practices, so we met at Golden Gate Park and didn’t even know that we were teammates at first. We watched each other’s matches and kept an eye on each other. Eventually I introduced myself.  I actually introduced myself to his sister first, which I thought would be ingratiating.

Playing doubles with someone you’re dating can be tricky. Are you and he able to leave your losses/disagreements on the court when you go home?

It’s been tricky to learn to play together. But the benefits of having tennis as a shared activity far outweigh the challenges. Because we know each other so well, and we’re very comfortable with each other, we’re more likely to say what we’re thinking. Also, a slight change in tone of voice or a subtle facial expression has a lot of meaning behind it.  There’s no hiding our true feelings on the court.

Generally, we get over our losses and disagreements pretty quickly. We do have to hash things out occasionally, but we can move on pretty well.

Let’s talk about your match against Gordon Paitimusa in the finals.  Had you played Gordon before that USGO final?

The only other time we had played each other was at Cal Cup in SF in October, 2011, but it was doubles. I got a glimpse of his lethal forehand then, and I think he’s just been steadily improving.

There were dramatic momentum swings that seemed, in part, due to Gordon’s uneven level of play (great shots followed by sprayed shots). What do you think contributed to the momentum swings?

I think there were multiple factors. The wind was tough because it wasn’t consistent in its direction and speed. I also tried to mix up my shots so that he couldn’t get into as much of a rhythm (some loopy shots with lots of topspin, and some flatter, harder shots). It’s also a different feeling to play in front of a crowd on a stadium court like that, so I think that contributed as well.

Do you think that playing someone as young as Gordon (born in 1991) gave you an advantage because you have more experience with tournament play?

I think experience does help. I was able to identify an effective strategy and stick with it i.e. mix up the pace and try to keep it to his backhand. One of the biggest assets of his youth is his amazing foot speed – he’s ridiculously fast!! I couldn’t believe the shots he could get to, and that he could get there with enough time to rip winners. He hit some unbelievable shots that whizzed by me – all I could do was say “nice shot.”

What was the key to your victory?

I was able to keep the ball deep enough to his backhand. The times when my ball dropped short he could run around and rip a winner, so the key for me was keeping the ball deep.

What were you least happy with about the match?

I was frustrated that I missed a lot of short balls – I felt like I constructed some points well waiting for the short ball, and on numerous occasions I was unable to put the ball away.

Where do you keep your trophies? And which one is your favorite?

I have some trophies at home, and a few in my office at work.  My favorite trophy is this most recent USGO one, because it’s my best win.

What was the first thing you did when you got home after your win?

I took some ibuprofen, sat on the couch, and watched bad reality TV.

Final question. Because inquiring minds want to know, what do you mean by “bad reality TV”?  Give me an example.

My favorite “bad reality TV” show is American Idol. My favorite “good reality TV” show is So You Think You Can Dance.


When the discussion turns to reality TV, it’s time to wrap things up!
Thanks to Toby for being so open and generous with his time.
Congratulations on the win, and to all the other winners/finalists as well. See you next year for USGO 2013.

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