Championships end today as tennis players vie for town titles |

Championships end today as tennis players vie for town titles

Dave Shively

— Since Jim Swiggart started the Steamboat Springs City Tennis Championships in 1995, the Tennis Center director has seen quite a few junior players throw their hats in the ring, hoping to earn a skill level title – and, of course, the bragging rights that go along with the claim of city champ.

“There’s been a lot of kids in the past, but rarely have they been so successful – what a showing from the high school girls and boys,” Swiggart said.

On a cold and windy Saturday, plenty of representatives from the Steamboat Springs High School boys and girls teams were inside the Tennis Center, giving Steamboat’s adult players a run for their money during the conclusion of round robin play in most skill-level divisions.

Kelli Root, who has played in Steamboat for more than 15 years, was gearing up for a match with Carolyn Krueger in the 3.5 women’s doubles division against two teenage opponents, Kate Cooper and Hayley Richman.

“It’s fun to have the kids play, it never used to be like this,” Root said.

Fabiola Katthain remembered learning to play as a 12-year-old in Mexico City, wanting to just hit the ball as hard as possible, but sometimes faltering when it came to consistency. Her game matured, and she was quickly ranked as a top-20 player in Mexico, going on to play No. 1 singles and doubles at the collegiate level at Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. On Friday, Katthain played Steamboat Springs Sailors No. 1 doubles player Molly Weiss in the championships’ new Masters division.

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“I think it’s a good experience to play with older people,” Katthain said. “Maybe it’s just learning to be more consistent or improving on the details.”

Katthain, a 37-year-old playing in her first city championship, advanced through her round robin bracket and will face Stacy Swiggart – a staunch opponent who earned four consecutive Big Eight Championship titles at Oklahoma State University – in today’s Ladies Masters finals.

“I’m going to try my best, but Stacy’s very consistent,” Katthain said. “You can have a lot of fun playing people here – they’re polite and fair and you don’t always find that.”

In the Mens Masters division, Tennis Center professional Andy Caress beat Dave Schaller, Jamey Swiggart and Jeff Oehrlein to advance to today’s finals against Class 4A No. 1 singles state champion Ramsey Bernard, who emerged on top of a bracket that included Ian Pritchard, Brad Miller and Ed Mooney.

“I know his game and he knows mine,” said Caress, who played with Bernard twice a week throughout the scholastic season. “We’ve never been that serious. But that could change over like it did at the state finals, he could easily step up his game.”

Although Miller and Mooney didn’t make the finals, they did earn a title in the 5.0 men’s doubles division, the only division decided on Saturday – they beat Jim and Jamey Swiggart 2-6, 6-2, 10-5.

Finals and consolation-play matches begin at 8:30 a.m. today, highlighted by the Men’s and Ladie’s Masters finals at 10 a.m. Attendance is free.