National rating tournament offers unique opportunity for Steamboat tennis players
The Steamboat Alpine Bank National Tennis Rating Program Championships kicked off on Friday morning, July 29, ahead of a weekend full of excitement at the Steamboat Springs Tennis and Pickleball Center.
This tournament is stocked with brackets ranging from a 2.5 beginner skill level to a 5.5 top-level player to give everyone a chance to compete at their rank and to make sure anyone interested can be included.
Traditionally, one of the biggest adult tennis tournaments in the state of Colorado, the 2022 NTRP Championships had a 150-player limit because of construction on the complex. They have normally targeted 250-300 participants in the past, but once the construction is complete, they can likely take well over 400 competitors.
Bill Conway, director of tennis at the center, is proud of this tournament and enjoys putting it together every year. Since competitors come from all over, his favorite part is to schedule matches for players who have likely never gone head-to-head in the past.
“What I always make it a point to do is nobody in the same zip code is playing each other in the first round,” Conway said.
The intention behind this is to make sure players get to face fresh competition, and potentially make new friends in the tennis community.
Conway expressed his excitement for the local players competing who finally get a chance to play with people outside of Steamboat. Because of Steamboat’s location, it acts like a bubble and not many tennis players in town get the opportunity to compete with or against players out of town.
Kathy Fader, an accountant for the tennis center, had the chance to compete in the tournament and represent Steamboat.
“There isn’t that many from Steamboat in this tournament, so it’s always been a fear factor of people wanting to get in because they are stronger. Their 3.0 in Denver is like our 2.5 here,” Fader said.
Competitors in the bigger cities and towns can also compete in tournaments more often and build camaraderie with their doubles partner. This puts Steamboat at a disadvantage in these competitions.
Fader and her teammate lost their opening match and were eliminated, but she is guaranteed at least one more game this weekend when she competes with her husband in one of the mixed doubles brackets.
Regardless of where they place, all participants get goodies from the tournament sponsors that include everything from water bottles to socks to snacks.
Above all else, Conway has the same goal every year. He just wants the quality of the tournament to surpass the year before.
“Each year we need to make it better,” Conway said. “I always like seeing the players because they can give me feedback to try this and try that but it’s that nervous energy that it’s our biggest event. ‘Can we pull it off better than last year?’ That’s always the thing.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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