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Steamboat Tennis Association hosts tourney to fund youth programs

Zach Scott, from Aurora, returns a shot during the Rare Air Tennis Camp, which is taking place at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs this week. The youth tennis camp will run through Thursday, and the Steamboat Tennis Association's annual tournament will take to the courts starting Friday.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The Steamboat Tennis Association will host its 11th annual tournament July 20 to 22 at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

The tournament aims to raise money for STA, which is a nonprofit started in 1987 to fund various youth programs in Routt County.

Last year, the association netted $33,139 from the tournament and after-tournament fundraiser.

“That helps us carry through all of our programs,” Steamboat Tennis Association co-fundraising director Ashleigh Crocker said.

That money helped fund three college scholarships, six player grants, year-round training for young athletes, an adaptive tennis program for players with physical limitations and SERVES, a tennis outreach program for under-resourced children.

The nonprofit is not part of the Tennis Center but rents courts there for Steamboat’s young athletes to play the sport.

The association’s ROGY program is where most local kids start. Youth players work their way up playing tennis with different colored balls: red, orange, green and yellow. Each ball is a different weight, which helps players tackle mechanics before advancing to a more difficult ball as they grow. Last year, 75 kids participated in the ROGY program.

As athletes move into the competitive stage, they participate in Team Steamboat and high school training programs. The court time at the Tennis Center is paid for by the association to enable athletes to continue their careers.

The boys and girls high school training programs are provided in two five-week sessions: one in the fall and one in the spring, which coincide respectively with the high school boys and girls tennis seasons. Summer medallions for training time were also provided to 39 children last year.

The adaptive tennis program, which started in 2014, helps children with physical limitations learn how to play tennis. Last year, the adaptive program hosted two free, five-week clinics for 65 kids in Routt County. The program is partnered with the Sharon Paulus Adaptive Tennis Fund and Steamboat Adaptive Recreation Sports — STARS — program.

This year, the tennis association also introduced SERVES — Success Education Respect Values Excellence Self-Confidence — a new program established by the United States Tennis Association. SERVES welcomed 47 under-resourced children from Routt County during the spring to learn basic tennis skills every Sunday for six weeks.

“We want to see our kids play tennis, but that’s not why we sit on the board [of the tennis association],” Crocker said. “We sit on the board to give those children who may not have otherwise been exposed to tennis, the chance because it will follow you the rest of your life.”

During the six-week session, kids age 7 to 18 learn not only tennis but also life and leadership skills through a mentoring program with curricula set by the USTA.

The Steamboat Tennis Association tennis tournament begins with a youth tournament on Friday and Saturday, followed by an adult tournament on Saturday and Sunday.

In between tournaments, players will be able to watch an exhibition match between the juniors and pros. An exclusive players party will also be held Saturday evening. The concluding dinner on Sunday will feature a silent auction.

The tournament currently has close to 100 participants, with registration still open to tennis association members and non-members for the Sunday dinner. Adults can attend for $20, while junior tickets cost $20.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.


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