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Celebrating Pride Month: Hannah Fleckenstein

As USTA Florida celebrates Pride Month, it is essential to recognize and honor members of the LGBTQ+ community who have significantly contributed to the sport of tennis. One inspiring and hardworking individual is Hannah Fleckenstein, the Head Professional at Ocean Reef Club. Hannah’s dedication to the sport, combined with her commitment to inclusivity and representation, makes her a beacon of pride within the tennis community. 


Hannah’s love with tennis began at the age of four at the Delray Tennis Center. She played a ton growing up and knew that one day she would make a career out of tennis. “I love that there are so many different ways that people can enjoy racquet sports,” she said. “If you want to be competitive you can be competitive, if you want to go out and just get a good workout you can get a good workout, or if you just want to go play a fun, social set of doubles you can also do that!” 



She’s been working in tennis for many years, showcasing her love for helping others improve at tennis and dedication to the sport. Currently, as the Head Professional at Ocean Reef Club, she is serving tennis to hundreds of people in Monroe County.  


Previous roles include working as an Assistant Tennis Coach at Colgate University, Hamilton College, Lehigh University and Middlebury College. She also worked at The Powelton Club as an Assistant Professional, and the Sippican Tennis Club and the New Canann Field Club as their Head Professional. 


Impact of the LGBTQ+ Community 


For Hannah, the LGBTQ+ community has been both an exciting and comforting presence in her life. “Connecting with people in the LGBTQ+ community can be exciting and comforting all at once,” she said. “There is this sense of understanding and support, even if you may not know that person all too well.” Hannah feels fortunate to have a supportive network of friends and family, both within and outside the LGBTQ+ community, who embrace her for who she is. “I am pretty lucky that I have friends and family alike that identify as both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ that have these qualities.” 



Hannah’s connection to tennis transcends her personal identity. She points out that her involvement in tennis both before and after coming out has helped her forge meaningful connections within the LGBTQ+ community. “I feel like because I identify as LGBTQ+, I have connected with so many more people that play and are involved in racquet sports that I would not necessarily have connected with,” she said. “Shared experiences and perspectives can bring people together in ways that you could never imagine.” 


Hannah welcomes everyone to the sport with open arms. “Whether you are LGBTQ+ or not, get involved in racquet sports because they are lifetime sports,” she said. “No matter if you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, there is tennis for you. Get out there and meet people!” Hannah knows that racquet sports, such as tennis offer opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels, and she can see herself playing until she’s 100 years old. 


To those who are hesitant to come out, Hannah offers heartfelt advice that you’re never alone. “From my perspective, if you are hesitant to come out, it is often because you don’t think you will be supported by the people around you and by society,” she said. “Societal norms are not friendly to most so don’t get caught up in those. Live your truth! Surround yourself with people that love you no matter what and realize that people will surprise you.” 



She adds that often enough, the people you think won’t support you will be your biggest supporters. While it might be hard at first to see that support, she is confident that they will come around. “The people that might not support you at first will come around with time because they love you for who you are.”

 

To Hannah, Pride is both a celebration and a reflection. “Pride is a time to celebrate, but also a time to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going, both as individuals and a community.” Pride Month is a reminder of the progress made and the journey ahead, both personally and collectively. 


Hannah is a testament to the power of sport in fostering inclusivity and building community. As USTA Florida celebrates Pride Month, her journey serves as an inspiration to all, highlighting the importance of representation, support, and the unifying power of tennis. 


By ML Staff. Content/Image courtesy of USTA Florida. Special thanks to Jaret Kappelman Marketing & Communications Coordinator for USTA Florida


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