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Tennis partners on fire

Doubles team wins 3 of 4

Kellie Banisky and Brad Nelson have combined their talents on the court this summer and quickly developed into one of the best mixed doubles teams in Steamboat Springs.

In four tournaments this summer, the pair has come away with three titles and was the runner-up the other time.

“Brad can hit the ball a million miles an hour, and I tend to be a little bit more consistent,” Banisky said. “We complement one another on the court and have become a very solid team.”

The pair needed to beat two other teams to win the 9.5 division to take the title at last weekend’s 2004 Steamboat City Mixed Doubles Championships. It wasn’t easy.

“We have all played each other in the past,” opponent Laurie Buelow said. “We know their weaknesses and strengths. But they know ours, too.”

So though Banisky and Nelson cruised past Buelow and her partner, Don Toy, in a tournament earlier this summer, in the opening match of this year’s mixed doubles championships, Buelow and Toy caught their opponents off guard en route to winning the first set, 6-4.

“That was probably our toughest match of the weekend,” Banisky said. “They played extremely tough, smart tennis and really took us out of our game plan.”

But Banisky and Nelson made a few adjustments between sets and rebounded to win the final two sets (6-2, 6-2) and the match.

After passing that test, Banisky and Nelson went on to down Joel Toy and Sue Swain to win this year’s 9.5 title in the 2004 Mixed Doubles Championship, which was played at the Tennis Center in Steamboat Springs.

The tournament drew 78 players to the Tennis Center. Play began Friday afternoon and continued through Sunday evening.

Divisions were determined by adding the two players’ levels together and ranged from 6.0 to 9.5.

“We’ve used this format for the last five years, and people really seem to enjoy it,” tournament director Jim Swiggart said.

The tournament is unusual because it allows lower-level players to play with upper-level players, which is rare in a sport like tennis, Swiggart said. In Steamboat, it allowed married couples, juniors and adults, and other combinations that otherwise would be impossible to put together. It’s a change from the usual tournaments, which simply group players of the same ability into the same class.

Other winners in this year’s tournament included Alex Gibbs and Shelby Reed in the 6.0 division, Carol Baily and Jeff Lambart in the 6.5 division, Kathi Ayres and Wade Wykert in the 7.0 division, Ayres and Jim McVeigh in the 7.5 division, Priscilla and Glynn Sisson in the 8.0 division, David Schaller and Elizabeth Speare in the 8.5 division, and Buelow and Tim McHarg in the 9.0 division.

–To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com


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