Tourney helps raise funds for tennis

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— Supporting youth tennis is a worthy cause, so finding contributors and participants for the annual Ore House Championships isn't difficult.

Every year the youths in the local tennis community round up items to auction off to keep their sport alive and thriving. At Saturday's silent auction, items as basic as baked goods and restaurant gift certificates were offered up to the highest bidder. Other more obscure items, such as spruce trees, lumber and savings bonds, were also given to the Steamboat Tennis Association to auction off.

"This is our most popular tournament and our biggest tournament," said Bonnie Martin, co-chair of the Ore House Auctions.

She said locals enjoy giving items, bidding on them and even playing in the tournament, because it not only goes toward the youths of Steamboat, those same youths also given back with their dedication and work on the courts.

"It's a real successful program," Martin said.

In addition to Saturday's silent auction, there will also be a live auction and dinner tonight at the Ore House beginning about 5 p.m.

Beccy Brane, tennis pro at the Tennis Center, said the dinner is sold out but the public is invited and encouraged to bid on the long list of items up for grabs. However, she reminded the public of the limited capacity in the upper level of the Ore House and said sealed bids delivered to the Tennis Center between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today will be taken to the evening's auction for those able to use that option.

Some of the items up for tonight's bidding include an 18-hole round of golf for four people at the Catamount Ranch & Club valued at $540, a half-hour helicopter ride above Steamboat with Zephyr Helicopter Co. with a gourmet picnic basket filled with treats for two valued at $200, two full days at the Billy Kidd Performance Center ski camp to be scheduled when Billy Kidd is present to teach valued at $852 and even a barbecue dinner for eight with the Steamboat Tennis pros complete with Jim Swiggart's San Antonio margaritas. The value on that one is priceless, according to the list.

Many in the tennis community, such as Dominick Riggio, STA vice president, donated items as well.

The school does not fund the boys and girls high school teams so fund-raising is a necessity. In the past, this tournament has raised upwards of $11,000. Brane said the expenditures between both teams are in the $18,000 range when things such as tournament entrance fees, coaches' salaries and even balls are factored in.

"It adds up," she said.

This tournament is the STA's way of helping with some of the costs. Brane said more than half of the money needed by the high school programs came from the tennis association last year. The local booster club and private donors provided the rest.

Kristin Toy, 13, is one of those local youths that benefits from this tournament. She also participated in it this year in the Junior Singles Advanced division. She defeated Ben Robbins in the opening round before falling in the semifinals to top-seeded Molly Weiss, 3-6, 2-6. She will play for third today.

Her older sister Amanda is on the high school tennis team, and Kristin is looking forward to joining her sister on the team in a couple of years.

In other results, Ed Mooney defeated Joel Toy, 6-1, 6-2 to move into this morning's finals against Denver's Rick Lathrop after he beat C.J. Hoigaard, 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the Men's 4.5 Singles.

In the Women's 4.0 Singles, Debbie Lathrop and Susie Lesson will meet in today's finals after each knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively.

Brane said the public is welcome to come watch these and the other Sunday matches. She also said the hard courts not being used are available for public use, weather permitting.

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