Local player makes run at Las Vegas tennis title

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— Finding a room in Las Vegas on a Saturday night is difficult to say the least.

Steamboat Springs tennis player John Aragon Jr. can attest to this fact after spending the night in the back of a Ford Expedition on the final night of last weekend's Intermountain Tennis Association's Great Pumpkin Sectional Championships.

Aragon and his family were caught off guard by unusually rainy weather (at least in Nevada) that pushed the three-day tournament's schedule back a day. After scrambling unsuccessfully to find a room Saturday, the Aragons decided to spend the night in the parking lot of the Lorenzi Racquet Club's parking lot. Their only shelter was the family's sport utility vehicle.

"There was one other player and his family who had to do the same thing," Aragon said. "It wasn't a big deal. I got up the next day and went for a jog and also played one of my best matches."

It was a big match for the Steamboat Springs High School senior who has hopes of playing at the college level next year. He topped Ben Adrian in two sets 6-3, 6-3 to finish 11th in a 32-player draw.

"When I first signed up for the tournament, I knew it was a high level of tennis. If I was going to be successful, I knew I would need to step it up," Aragon said.

Aragon won three out of five matches in the Nevada desert.

In the opening round, Aragon drew Joel Kielbowicz of Arizona, the No. 5 player in his division, and lost in a 6-4, 6-2 match.

Aragon rebounded in the back draw, however, topping Montana's Daniel Tengeisen 6-1, 6-2.

The local favorite fell to Robert Weins of Pueblo in the next match 6-3, 6-3.

Weins finished second in the 4A division of the state championships held last month in Colorado.

"It was a good match," Aragon said. "I had a couple of chances to win, but it didn't happen."

The loss dropped Aragon out of the race for a top-10 spot, but he beat Bobby Rasmussen in a 6-0, 6-1 match on Saturday and Adrian on Sunday to place 11th overall.

The two players who beat Aragon both advanced into the top 10. Kielbowicz went on to finish third in the tournament and Weins placed ninth.

Aragon said the tournament was a real learning experience, and he expects the lesson will help him as he moves on to the college ranks.

He plans on playing in the Intermountain Fall Fling, which starts on Nov. 7. Another local favorite, Rich Tifft, will also play in that tournament. Aragon said both players are also hoping for an invitation to the nationals, which will be held in December.

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