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Tennis tourney spans generations

Dave Haradin casts his line into Jonah Lake on Buffalo Pass on Saturday afternoon. Haradin traveled to Buff Pass for a day of fishing and hiking with his son, Taj, and wife, Leslie Haradin.
Joel Reichenberger

— The annual Steamboat Tennis Association tournament differs from most that swing through the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs in that it allows juniors players to pair with adults.

It makes sense for the event, which is built around a charity auction and is, in whole, a fundraiser for STA, which places much of its focus on youth tennis in Steamboat Springs. It also gives the adults cutting the checks a chance to play side-by-side with the young athletes benefiting from them.

Few pairings showed that diversity off quite as well as that of Kathi Skytta, 73 years old, and Lucas Sands, who is, he insists, 12-and-a-half years old, not just 12.

“That’s good,” Skytta said Sunday, with a laugh. “That way, I’m only 59-and-a-half years older.”

They didn’t prove to be the championship mixed doubles pair of the weekend.

Charlie Smith, one of the top players on the Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team, and Kristyn Wykert, a new teaching pro at the Tennis Center, emerged as one of the top pairs, winning the 9.0 mixed doubles bracket.

Karen Connell and Nolan Connell won in the 8.0-8.5 mixed doubles, and David Pettigrew and Wendy Wade came out on top in the 7.5 mixed doubles.

Still, Skytta and Sands agreed: They may be 59.5 years apart in age, and they may have vastly different skills when it comes to technology, but on the tennis court, they found they have a lot in common.

Both started playing the game when they were about 5 years old.

For Skytta, that meant coming up in an entirely different era. She played collegiately at University of Arizona and, in those days, even found herself looking across the court at tennis legend Billie Jean King.

That brush with a tennis great didn’t go well, as King won, but Skytta never wavered on her sport.

Sands doesn’t plan to either. He’s entering the eighth grade and is looking ahead to the chance to play on the high school team.

Sunday, the pair found they were compatible on the court.

“He played marvelously,” Skytta said. “He got all the overheads, all the lobs, and I didn’t have to work very hard at all.

“Lucas made all the outstanding winning shots, from all over the court.”

Sands found plenty of help in Skytta, too.

“We were great partners,” he said. “We gave each other a lot of advice on strategic moves, and it was a fun experience. She was very good at cross-court shots, and she identified shots that would work against certain opponents.”

It all added up to a 1-1 record and, at the same time, a weekend neither would forget.

“My cardiologist told me last year to find a younger partner,” Skytta said. “So, I found him.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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