January 13th, 2016
Volunteer Profile: ‘It’s Not ‘Gay Tennis’ or ‘Straight Tennis’ Anymore’
Jeff Dinsmore says welcome to 2016
For a guy who says he likes being behind the scenes, Jeff Dinsmore is pretty out there in terms of making things happen for the Orange Blossom Tennis Association.
The Facebook page manager for the association, “a social tennis group for LGBT players and their allies” in Orlando, Fla., he also manages the group schedule for weekly round robins, arranges the court dates between Sanlando Park and the Orlando Tennis Center, sends out e-mail blasts, and more.
“I am a bit of a control freak,” he admits.
Originally only a player in the group, he first became a player representative on the group’s board before becoming the group’s secretary, a position he is entering his third year in.
style of play: “Fun”
favorite tournament: “GLTA Orange Blossom Tennis Championship (of course)”
home club: Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs
Serena or Venus? “Trick question — BOTH.”
Novak, Roger or Rafa? “Stan”
Sleeves or sleeveless? “Short sleeves”
USTA Florida: What made you first get involved with the Orange Blossom Tennis Association?
Jeff Dinsmore: About five years ago I was told I needed to be more ‘social.’ I had great memories of playing tennis in high school, so like riding a bike and falling off down a steep hill, I started going to the OBTA round robins. I did a web search online, they popped up, and as they say the rest is history.
What is the Orlando tennis scene like?
Amazing weather, great courts and no snow, what more could you ask for? There are so many places all over to play, I can so understand why the USTA is building [the new USTA National Campus] in Lake Nona. Orlando rocks!
The OBTA is a registered USTA Florida Community Tennis Association (CTA) — what is the group’s mission?
We are a small group, always open for others to join — it’s a group of players that enjoy getting out and having fun, laughs, and playing some good and not-so-good tennis — but always having fun and laughs. We offer a weekly round robin, open to all ages and levels of play, but suggest you come with some tennis skills — basically low “D,” aka 3.0 level and up.
Billie Jean King and others have been outspoken advocates for LGBT tennis over the years — what changes have you seen if any over the years in regards to the tennis community coming together as a whole and embracing any and all players?
I truly feel the days of “gay” tennis groups are coming to an end and I am ok with that. It’s served its purpose, but now with the times finally catching up, its just tennis. It’s not “gay tennis” or “straight tennis” or any other tennis — it’s getting on the courts and hitting that green little tennis ball. With that said, I remember reading an article about one of the male pro tennis players making some homophobic comments, so we are not there yet, but every day one step, one serve, one volley closer.
How does the OBTA stack up against the other state LGBT tennis groups?
We are smaller than the other groups in Florida. For the past three years we have attempted to grow the membership but without luck. We have a great core group of players but higher-level players and lower-level players are a hard group to get together and mix. We may be a “GLTA” group but we don’t discriminate, we let straight people play too if they want, LOL.
You are a registered nurse and a clinical researcher in immunology, have your medical skills ever come in handy in a tennis situation?
Thankfully not yet. I once did CPR on a boat tender during a cruise, not tennis related. That’s a vacation I’ll never forget. I also specialized in orthopaedics and those skill sets have definitely come in handy with sprains, twists and all the fun things that come with playing tennis. My current position for the past 16-plus years is as a research manager at Orlando Immunology Center.
If you could wave a wand and make anything happen tennis-wise in Orlando, what would it be?
Free round robin tennis so anyone and everyone could play. The second wave would be for indoor courts for when it’s blazing hot or raining.
Professionally, #knowyourstatus, it’s 2016 people, there is no reason not to be tested for sexually transmitted infections. In regards to tennis, I just would like to remind everyone it’s so much fun — if you played before, come out again and play some more. If you have never played, grab some friends and just go hit and play, maybe take a lesson or two, or 20.
USTA Florida congratulates Jeff Dinsmore as the January 2016 Volunteer of the Month for his service to the Orlando tennis community and bringing players together.
MORE ABOUT JEFF
Family Members: “Dennis Dinsmore (father); Sherrie Dinsmore (step-mom); Lucille Dinsmore (mom); Dennis Dinsmore II (brother), his wife Shelby and my niece Hannah and nephew Dennis III; Richard Dinsmore (brother deceased), and my bestest friend in the whole wide world Maryann Crawley (she is family for all intent and purposes)”
Favorite Movie: Overboard
Favorite Food: “Mexican — tequila is a food, right?”
Favorite Travel: “Massachusetts to visit the family”
Favorite Shot: “In the white lines and winning”
My earliest tennis memory is…“High school, and picking up the racquet for the very first time.”
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…“Would not want to play with them, they would crush me…but Serena, Venus and Caroline Wozniacki…or maybe Stan, Nadal, John Isner. But if I had to ‘actually play’ it would be my doubles partner Frank and anyone who just wanted to have fun and laugh. I love Serena and Venus both, they inspire me with every story, every victory, even when they lose, they inspire me. They both embody grace, power and just awesomeness.”
When I am not playing tennis I am…“eating, working, watching tv, hanging out with friends or working out at Orange Theory.”
My best tennis memory is…“getting b***h-slapped by my doubles partner Frank mid-match during a tournament…I deserved it and I never laughed so hard ever.”
I like to volunteer in tennis because…“I enjoy getting people together who enjoy the fun of the game with a dash of competition. Keeping the group together and active makes me a better tennis player in the end and a better person.”