TULSA, Okla. — To celebrate National Tennis Month, the North American Indian Tennis association is hosting a tournament at LaFortune Tennis Center beginning Friday, May 26.
The tournament provides an opportunity for Native American players between the ages of 13 to 69 to compete and will consist of more than 120 players and 23 tribes.
Tournament director Tony Mullican said this tournament has taken place every year since 1976.
"It's where all the Natives come together and have a blast playing tennis," he said.
This isn't the first time the tournament has taken place in Tulsa, but in it's long history, the tournament has traveled from state to state, said tournament director Jessica RedCorn.
"We kind of do a banquet on Saturday night and we take a vote," she said. "So we give everybody a chance to vote on the next year's location and the camaraderie is just fantastic out here."
RedCorn said the NAITA Tournament started with a group of Native Americans who loved the sport of tennis.
"I actually am very blessed that a couple of the original family, family members of mine, started on the committee in 1976," she said.
Despite the tennis, the tournament isn't all competition.
"The biggest thing is community," Mullican said. "We want people to come and experience friendship and family, and it's kind of like a family reunion. You look around, everybody is here from the oldest to the youngest. And so it's a great time to get to know other people, to learn some of their heritage and their history, to sit down with the elder and learn a little bit about Native American culture."
For those who win in their bracket at the tournament, they receive a piece of handmade pottery by an Oklahoma City potter, White Antelope, on a plaque with their winning title.
"We try to keep it as Native American cultured as we can," RedCorn said. "So from whoever made the T-shirts, that business is Native owned and everything. So we try to keep the culture completely Native American."
For those interested in the tournament, click here.