an SX magazine article 30 July 2010
It was at a Mardi Gras tennis tournament in 2009 where Kerstin Kothrade and Liz Yeo first met. Yeo, a human resources professional from Newtown, was an avid member of the gay sporting group, Tennis Sydney, and Kothrade had just moved to Australia from Europe.
“When [my partner and I] moved to Sydney in 2008, we found it difficult to establish a social network outside of our work environment,” Kothrade, a supply chain manager from Newington, tells SX. An active player back in Switzerland, Kothrade turned to tennis to see if it would “once more, open some doors”.
So Kothrade joined Amazon Tennis, where a player encouraged her to participate in a tournament during Mardi Gras. “And this was where I first got in contact with Tennis Sydney and that was where I first met Liz – my on-court partner in crime and dear friend. It was an overwhelming discovery for me: for the first time, I was able to play my beloved sport amongst a gay community who was very welcoming.”
Yeo has been a member of Tennis Sydney since 2002, when she re-kindled her love for the sport in the lead up to the Gay Games. There, she and her former doubles partner won a silver medal. Yeo has also clocked up several other medals in doubles competitions, including the Montreal Outgames in 2006, the Sydney World Masters Games in 2009, and several Mardi Gras tennis tournaments.
At the Gay Games in Cologne, Yeo and Kothrade will be competing in A Grade women’s doubles.
“A doubles game will demand a very different skill set than a singles match,” Kothrade says.
“Good communication and a deep understanding of each other’s mindsets are as essential for a successful doubles team as the technical skills.”
Yeo says she likes playing doubles for the sense of teamwork it cultivates on the court. “You can back each other up and if one person is not having a great day, the other often picks things up and you still have a chance to do okay.”
With their previous performance as a doubles team – Yeo and Kothrade won Division 2 in Tennis Sydney’s summer competition and, more recently, the Division 2 club doubles in June – the pair is destined to do more than just okay.
“Being with Tennis Sydney has really improved my game, especially playing a lot against the guys, as Kerstin and I have done in preparation for Cologne,” Yeo says.
Yeo and Kothrade will be joined by 13 other players from Tennis Sydney in Cologne, building on the group’s previous Gay Games successes. In Chicago in 2006, Owen Gallagher won two singles gold, and Michael Dunn and Michael Heath won a doubles gold. The Cologne event will mark Tennis Sydney’s fifth Gay Games participation, which stretches all the way back to New York in 1994.
“I am very much looking forward to taking the many good Aussie tennis memories to the courts at the Gay Games in Cologne,” says Kothrade, “and to share the experience with my dear friend and great doubles partner, Liz.”
Pictured: Kerstin Kothrade, Liz Yeo
Photo: Jason Nichol