Steamboat hosts prestigious youth tennis tournament

Austin Colbert
Steamboat Springs' Andy Schuiling
Austin Colbert

— When Dave Schuiling brought his son, Andy, to live in Steamboat Springs from Telluride, the world of competitive tennis was little known to either of them. Then Andy got involved with the tennis camps put on by the Steamboat Tennis Association and his desire to play grew from there.

“When we moved to Steamboat about five years ago, where we came from there was no tennis in the area. So we kind of discovered tennis through it,” Dave said of the local camps. “He played a camp here in the summer and kind of got hooked on it.”

“There were these camps and they were really fun,” Andy added. “I guess I got good, and being good is fun.”

Now 11, Andy has become one of Steamboat Springs’ best young tennis players. He has evolved from attending basic camps to playing competitively at a high level. Over the weekend, Andy was one of three area players to compete in the United States Tennis Association (Intermountain Section) 12 and under Memorial Day Tennis Championships.

Held at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, the three-day event features some of the best youth tennis players, boys and girls, from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Joining Andy in the tournament are Steamboat Springs’ Roy Lundeen, 12, and Tommy Regan, 8.

“It’s almost 19 years since we’ve been hosting this tournament — since this center opened. It’s a Level 5, which is a high-to-mid-level tournament for 12 year olds,” said Bill Conway, the Center’s head tennis professional and tournament co-director. “It is really nice. Roughly there are only six tournaments held this weekend at this level, so the fact that Steamboat has one of them is pretty impressive.”

The tournament is part of a larger series of tournaments under the USTA banner, all of which allows the players to earn points in order to qualify for larger, national-level tournaments. Many of the players, including the three from Steamboat Springs, travel on a regular basis to compete in tournaments.

“That’s the whole goal is to grow the tennis community. It’s really neat because we have roughly seven kids out playing different tournaments at this level, and that incudes the three here,” Conway said of the growing youth tennis scene in Steamboat. “Our goal is to give all the kids every level they want to play. So if they want to play at this high level of play that’s great. If they want to do a recreational level, that’s great. But just give them the opportunity to enjoy the sport.”

The tournament in Steamboat this weekend features a compass draw format, similar to a round robin, in which the players get to compete in at least three matches. This avoids the one-and-done situation found in many tournaments and allows for more player development.

“For junior development it’s awesome because kids get to play lots, see lots of different players and play lots of different matches,” Dave Schuiling said. “As you get closer to the edge of your age bracket you start to play up a little to get a taste of what it’s going to be like when you get there.”

The tournament, which started Saturday, will conclude Monday at the Tennis Center. Play will begin at 8:30 a.m., with both the boys’ and girls’ champions decided later in the day.

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