LA Open – A Night to Remember

On Friday, March 29, over 250 players gathered for the 2024 LA Open presented by the Los Angeles Tennis Association (LATA), which is part of the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) World Tour. By the end of the day, 300 matches were played in a Fast 4 format due to the rain. But most importantly, it was a weekend of camaraderie, fun, and giving back to the sport of tennis.


“It was a full circle moment for me as three years ago I participated in my first tournament and now I am talking about ACEing Autism in front of everyone,” Trey Mihal, who is on the Board of the LATA commented. “It made me think of how far I’ve gone and what I’ve accomplished since moving to LA, and I’m so excited that ACEing Autism is such a big part of my life,” the Burbank Program Director and Southern California Regional Program Director continued.


But what made this weekend so special for Trey was seeing the players’ banquet come together, seeing his fundraising efforts for ACEing Autism exceed his imagination, and pulling off the surprise of the tournament. Before we go any further, it is important to note that Trey was able to raise $12,600 for ACEing Autism during the tournament. Now, let’s go back to how we got to that number. 


“Richard Spurling was there and he talked about our expansion and our vision, which was so great. A lot of people were touched by our program and what we’re doing, and a lot of the players were interested in volunteering,” Trey, who made it to the semifinals in singles and quarterfinals in doubles explained.


While players from across the US and the world enjoyed some delicious food and a presentation about ACEing Autism, the ongoing fundraising was going on. With a goal of $2,500, Trey wasn’t sure what to expect. “I stopped looking on Friday afternoon because it was $75, then before the banquet it was $700, and as people heard about us, I saw the number was around $4,000,” he said with his always positive and energetic attitude. “Then Richard raffled a tour of the Tennis Channel set which helped a lot,” the full time Board Certified Behavioral Analyst added.


But what got everyone speechless was the surprise Trey and Richard managed to keep under wraps. “Richard brought it up to me that Pam Shriver could come and I only told the board members so it was a huge success! Everyone’s faces were in complete shock when I started announcing her accolades, and she got a standing ovation,” he described to us with a proud chuckle in his voice.


“Everyone was so excited to have her, she took pictures with everyone and talked with them. We did a rapid fire with her and she answered all of them which was phenomenal. She then shared her passion for working with ACEing Autism and it was amazing to see that everyone wanted to listen and were so intrigued by what she said.”


Then, something unexpected happened. “She whispered into my ear to ask if it was okay to do a private lesson at her home court, and of course we said yes. She ended up giving two private lessons which were $2,000 each,” he recalled with much excitement. “It helped us raise a total of $12,600, which is absolutely astonishing! It was so cool to see everyone’s generosity and seeing all the smiles on their faces while we were talking about ACEing Autism, it was impactful.”


As our interview came to an end, Trey reflected back on the weekend. “We did a raffle and had bingo, we also had a live and silent auction for a Wilson Blade racquet signed by Sabalenka. But most importantly, seeing everyone rallying around a great cause and their generosity made it extra special. It was a blast!”

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