Championship serves top action

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— Steamboat tennis players Rich Tifft and Casey Clagett took a stroll down memory lane on Sunday afternoon during the finals of the Ore House STA Tennis Championships at the Tennis Center.

"It was just like old times," Tifft said. "It was a great match and it brought back a lot of fond memories."

Fond for Tifft because he topped Clagett, a former Sailors teammate, in a 7-6 (5), 6-3 match to win the 5.0 division at the Steamboat Tennis Associations' Singles and Doubles Championships.

Tifft took an early advantage by winning the first set in the tie-breaker.

"I knew whoever won that first set would most likely win the match," Tifft said. "In some matches, you can just tell."

Tifft said the key was that he was able to take advantage of some of Clagett's mistakes. Clagett, on the other hand, missed several key opportunities to put the younger player away.

"It's always a good match when we meet and it can go either way," Tifft said. "We are building quite a rivalry, but it's very friendly.

Tifft was using the tournament to gear up for the high school tennis season, which opens on Monday. Clagett will head back to college when he plays for Wittenberg University.

The Steamboat tournament featured the largest field ever, with 112 adult and junior players taking to the courts.

"This event was, once again, a wonderful success thanks to the players, sponsors and staff at the center," said Ed Mooney, tennis association president.

The tournament opened play on Thursday and came to a close on Sunday afternoon.

Winners included Mark Hermacinski and John Lupori in the 3.0 doubles bracket; Tony Connell in the 3.5 singles; Rod Schrage and Toby Spikes in the 3.5 doubles; Bill Krueger in the 4.5 singles; Krueger and Charlie Reynolds in the 4.5 doubles; and Ed Mooney and Casey Clagett in the 5.0 doubles.

On the women's side, it was Kathy Craig topping the 3.0 singles;Kim Heckbert winning the 3.5 singles; and Molly Orr winning the 4.5 singles. Sue Oakley and Diana Sutton won the 3.5 doubles title; and Karen Connell and Marisa Wayne won the 5.0 doubles.

Molly Weiss was crowned this year's junior champion.

In addition to the action on the courts, the event was a success as a fund-raiser for the high school tennis teams as $11,000 was collected.

The Tennis Center will host another large NTRP "levels" tournament this weekend. Organizers expect 300 local and out-of-town players to be in town to compete in the prestigious regional event.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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