Wykert, Nijsten among local winners at annual Steamboat NTRP Tennis Championships | SteamboatToday.com

Wykert, Nijsten among local winners at annual Steamboat NTRP Tennis Championships

Austin Colbert

— Like most, it was skiing that first brought Kristyn Wykert to Steamboat Springs. However, it is tennis that has kept her here.

"When I was a kid my parents brought us down here for skiing. I was never really that much into tennis," said Wykert, who grew up in Laramie, Wyoming. "Then one summer we came down and figured out summers are just as great."

Wykert, 22, not only learned to embrace the sport, but she let it engulf her life. A May graduate of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction with a degree in finance and management, Wykert recently moved to Steamboat and has been working throughout the summer coaching camps for The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

She was a member of the CMU women's tennis team where she spent three years playing doubles with Vail's Shannen McNamara. The two reunited on the court for the first time since college this weekend during the 2015 Steamboat NTRP Championships, where they won the women's 4.5 doubles flight by defeating the Carbondale duo of Brittany Biebl and Sally Grange, 6-2, 6-1.

"We still got it," McNamara said jokingly. "It's awesome to get to play with each other."

The 24th annual tournament, which is sponsored by Steamboat Homestead and its owners Bo and Sue Stempel, is the largest tournament hosted by The Tennis Center. This year the three-day tournament had 286 entries representing 15 states with players completing 160 matches on Friday alone, the first day of the tourney.

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On top of helping Wykert to the top doubles championship, McNamara also won the women's 4.5 singles flight, a 6-3, 7-5, win against Biebl. McNamara graduated from CMU a year earlier than Wykert and currently works in the medical field in Vail with a desire to go to medical school.

The duo hopes to keep playing together even as life tries to pull them apart.

"I love the sport and it's a good tournament that I live close enough and she lives here now, so we were able to get together," McNamara said. "Colorado is kind of hard. Tournaments are everywhere and we both have jobs."

Nijsten among local winners

Wykert wasn't the only local to impress during Sunday's championships. Steamboat’s Louis Nijsten, a local real estate developer, teamed with Denver's Adam Paschal to win the men's 4.5 doubles flight. They defeated the Cheyenne, Wyoming, duo of Roy Foster and Chad Lace, 6-7(5), 6-5, 10-5, in Sunday's championship.

"He's probably one of the best in state at this level. It makes it easier to play with him," Nijsten said of Paschal, who he met while playing in Denver. "Really tough guys from Wyoming. They had us in the first set and we had to fight back. Third set tiebreakers are always tough but I think we did OK."

Nijsten, 34, moved to Routt County 10 years ago from the Netherlands. He played tennis until he was 15 but gave up the sport until about seven years ago when he got involved with Steamboat's tennis center. He is entering his third season as an assistant coach with the Steamboat Springs High School boys' tennis team.

"I fell in love with this place right after I moved here. No reason to leave. I have a fun job and play tennis," Nijsten said. "This is obviously the best tournament we have all year. There are like 300 people from Denver coming over and playing in this. It's super cool for us living here and playing in this tournament. Today was really good."

Nijsten also won the men's 5.0 singles round robin while Paschal won the men's 4.5 singles round robin.

Other local winners included Sue Stempel and Karen DeLine, both of Steamboat, partnering to win the women's 3.5 doubles flight. They defeated Granby's Linda Kunkel and Fort Collins's Kathy Peterson in Sunday's championship, 6-3, 6-4.

Full results can be found here.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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