Intramural sports are a sure way to build camaraderie, make friends and forge strong bonds of community – all while getting a workout, or at least engaging in an activity you love.

The Cactus Tennis Alliance promotes the sport of tennis within the Phoenix metro gay and lesbian community. Find more about the group here on Facebook.

While the group has activities all year round, possibly the most important calendar event is The Cactus Open 2022, which is on in Phoenix, Feb. 19 - 22. Get all the details here.

“We usually have anywhere from 30 to 40 people register to play in the tournament, with a majority of these players coming from out of town,” Omar Garcia, Cactus Open tournament director told OUTvoices Phoenix back in the day.

Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance

GLTA asks that its various tournaments sponsor a charity of choice along with their events. This year, the Cactus Tennis Alliance is sponsoring the Valley Youth Theatre of Phoenix, whose mission is to foster excellence and interest in the performing arts among Valley youth.

“We’re really trying to help kids to follow their interests and passion, as we know a lot of these young kids feel the same way about theater as we do about tennis,” Garcia said. “Another plus is that we get to support a local Phoenix organization.”

The Local League

The CTA, which is registered with the United States Tennis Association as a community tennis association, continues the mission of providing inclusive sports organizations for the LGBT community, while stressing the importance of remaining open to allies and anyone interested in playing.

“In sports it’s important to keep an open mind and be accepting of everyone,” Garcia said. “It’s important for the LGBT community to have its own place to play, but we like to keep it open and support allies the way they support us when we play.”

The alliance meets at 7 p.m. on Friday and Sunday nights at the Phoenix Tennis Center for drop-in tennis, where players of all skill levels may show up to play for two hours for an $8 court and light fee. Off the court, players also meet for social events, including viewing parties for Grand Slam events.

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On a chilly Saturday almost eleven years ago, seven guys booted up and began the practice of a fledgling gay rugby team—they included Ben Marks, Adam Ross, Doug Sladen, Chris Sanders, Daryl Woods, Richard Benoit, and Stan Schklar (who at 55 is still playing despite various broken bones, among other injuries). At Tribe after that first practice, they chose the team’s name based on where they’d initially found their shared interest in rugby (Bear411)—the lack of grizzly bears in Tennessee be damned.

Flash-forward to 2006’s Pride festival, which is when I first spoke to John Purdom, who would become another long-time player and long-time assistant coach. After that, I decided to attend the next Tuesday night practice. From the little I knew about rugby’s specifics, it seemed liked it might be both a nice hobby and a nice workout. I was right, and as someone who grew up playing soccer and wrestling from middle school through high school, it felt great tackling a much bigger guy everyone else probably thought I never could. And as much as it pushed me, I know it pushed the rest of this nascent group of ruggers. What we had in enthusiasm, though, we lacked in practical knowledge.

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The Grizzlies are kicking off their Fall season with a Rugby 101 clinic to teach basic rugby skills. The clinic will be held at Capers Field at the corner of Natchez Trace and Children's Way on the Vanderbilt University campus from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday. August 13. The clinic will be immediately followed by lunch and beers at a local bar with the team.

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The Bingham Cup is named for Hoagland’s son, Mark Bingham, who died on Sept. 11, 2001 as one of the heroes who rushed the hijackers on United Airlines flight 93.

Outgoing Grizzlies President Jon Glassmeyer says it was the team’s most momentous occasion.

“Alice Hoagland, Mark Bingham's mother, took the time to come and speak to the team. She remarked on what a fine team we were and how she truly felt exemplified the spirit of the game her son loved so much," he said. " There was not a dry eye on the pitch as she walked away.”

The Bingham Cup is a biannual rugby tournament created by the San Francisco Fog Rugby Team to celebrate the life of their teammate, Mark Bingham. Begun in 2002, the tournament has been hosted by San Francisco, London (2004), New York (2006), Dublin (2008) and Minneapolis (2010). The local rugby team in each city hosts the event under the guidance of the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB).

The Grizzlies took 24 players and 14 members of the Grizzlies’ auxiliary to Minneapolis to participate in Bingham Cup 2010. According to Glassmeyer, the Grizzlies ended up pulling one of the toughest draws of games of any team in the tournament.

“Of the five matches played, all our competitors made it to the finals, three winning their division,” Glassmeyer said.”Our very first match was against the New York Gotham who ultimately won the Bingham Cup. Where the Grizzlies could have been bitter or disappointed, we took each match as a challenge and did our best to honor Nashville," he said.

The Grizzlies’ sportsmanship was well recognized. Glassmeyer says the team got a personal compliment from the IGRAB President, Alex Fallis.

“Alex spoke to the Grizzlies after our last match and congratulated the team on being gentlemen on and off the pitch (field),” Glassmeyer said. “He told us that he hoped someday all the teams in IGRAB would show the sportsmanship and character of the Grizzlies. All extremely kind and uplifting words. All in all, it was a long year of fund raising, practice, and many matches of rugby to get the Grizzlies to Minneapolis, but it was worth every minute!”

The Grizzlies closed out their season with a pool party celebration in late July, and the election of new officers. For the 2010-2011 season, the Grizzlies have announced the following slate of officers and board members:

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