Tennis tournament has 'huge' impact

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— It only takes two words for high school tennis coach Beccy Brane to sum up the impact the Steamboat Tennis Association's Ore House Championships has on her team.

"It's huge," Brane said.

The coach added that without this tournament the two high school tennis teams at Steamboat Springs High School would not exist.

Several other junior tennis programs here in Steamboat would also be hit hard.

"High school tennis would not happen without this tournament," Brane said. "That's a fact."

This year the annual tournament will take place July 19-21 at the Tennis Center. Divisions will include 2.5 through 5.0.

Players interested in taking part need to register at the Tennis Center by Monday, July 15.

"Anyone can play in this tournament," tournament organizer JoAnne Tucker said. "You don't have to be a member of the Steamboat Tennis Association and you don't have to be from Steamboat Springs to play in this one."

Tucker said the tournament is the largest fund-raiser of the year for the local tennis association. She said it's a great chance to promote tennis and offer local players a chance to compete.

Last year the event helped the tennis association dole out more than $9,000 to the high school teams, plus supported several junior projects that help introduce the sport to young players.

The money is earned through entry fees and a silent auction, which takes place at the Tennis Center July 20-21.

The silent auction is open to the general public. There is also a live auction at the Ore House Sunday, July 21.

Among the items to be awarded this year are a round of golf for four at the Catamont course. There will also be a 20-day-pass from the Steamboat Ski Area on the block.

Each year the high school teams must come up with $18,000 to cover court time, coach's fees and entry fees. Brane said more than half of this money came from the tennis association last year. The Steamboat Springs Booster's Club and several private donors provided the rest of the money.

Tennis is a tier II sport at the high school.

This means the school sponsors the team in name, which allows the squads to play in Western Slope League games and at the regional and state level.

The school, however, doesn't offer any financial support to the team.

That support must come from outside the school.

Tucker said the tennis association is more than happy to help support the local high school tennis teams, but the organization wants to go further in its support of the sport in the community.

To accomplish this the Steamboat Tennis Association hands out scholarships to young players with hopes that they will develop a lifelong love of the game.

"It's not free anymore," Tucker said of playing the game. "We offer scholarships so that young players are not discouraged because of the cost to play the game."

The funny thing is that the demand for these scholarships is not as high as you would expect, Tucker said.

"I don't think a lot of young players know about these scholarships," Tucker said. "They are out there and they're available."

She added that the organization takes applications for scholarships most of the year.

Those applications can be picked up at the Tennis Center.

The scholarships will be given to deserving players for camps, lessons and court time.

"The whole idea is to get kids to play the game of tennis." Tucker said.

Brane said the registrations for the Tennis Association's championships have been slow, but she expects them to pick up before the July 15 deadline.

Cost for Steamboat Tennis Association members is $32 for singles, $64 for doubles and $20 for junior singles.

Non-members pay $38 for singles, $76 for doubles and $25 for the junior singles division.

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