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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.

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