Steamboat Springs When coach John Aragon's high school tennis team had yet to boast a regional title, he decided it was time to offer some incentive.
Aragon promised the team he would pierce one of his ears if the boys managed to qualify for the state tournament. Five regional championships later, the rest is history.
As a tribute to the coach's piercing, past organizers of the Ore House Tennis Tournament Auction packaged a tennis lesson with Aragon with a pair of earrings at the auction.
The earrings and tennis lessons are among more than 100 other items on the list of donated merchandise for the auction, which is Aug. 1-3.
Sponsored by the Steamboat Tennis Association, the auction is the biggest fund-raiser for the Steamboat Springs High School tennis teams and the Junior Tennis Academy. It is also an event that is vital to the survival of the teams.
"This year, we're taking a funding cut from the Booster Club due to funding cuts for them," auction co-chair Mary Weiss said. "Last year, the auction raised $13,000. This year, our goal is to raise $15,000 to compensate for the loss."
Tennis is a very expensive sport, Weiss added, as it costs almost $18,000 each year to fund the high school teams.
"It all goes to scholarships, tournament entry fees, coaching costs and court costs," John Aragon said of the money raised through the auction.
As tennis is a "tier two" sport, costs are covered by the funding received from the Booster Club and a percentage of the participation fees paid by athletes. The rest must be derived from other sources.
The biggest source is the Ore House fund-raiser, with its three parts: a tennis tournament, a silent auction, and a live auction.
Lisa Floyd, 13, is especially looking forward to playing in the tournament.
"I love tennis," Floyd said. "It's lots of fun to play."
Floyd and her mom, Marilyn, will battle for a title in the 4.0 doubles slot.
"Tennis is a great game for the whole family at any level of play," Weiss said.
Weiss also hopes the auctions, which are open to the general public, will be a success. The silent auction will be set up at the Tennis Center Aug. 2-3, with new items each day. So far, the tally of donations has reached 75, with the grand total expected to be a minimum of 100.
Donations include handmade jewelry, spa packages, golf rounds at Catamount, the Sheraton and Steamboat Golf Club; Denver Broncos tickets and a weekend getaway to Dutch Creek Ranch for two.
Other items likely to be seen at the live auction include an Italian cooking class with chef Dom Riggio, tennis lessons with local pros and free tuition at the acclaimed Vic Braden Tennis Academy.
Tennis Center Director Jim Swiggart will serve as the auctioneer, with the live auction held at the Ore House during the closing dinner festivities.
In order to collect the items that would be auctioned off, members of the high school teams and other players took pleas to the community for donations.
"The support is excellent," Aragon said. "This community goes above and beyond."
The successful fund-raiser results in a successful tennis program. The boys high school team has won five consecutive regional championships finished third at the state tournament.