The tournament season at the Tennis Center in Steamboat Springs came to an end earlier this month but not before a few final heart-stopping title matches.
The biggest moments of the 2004 Steamboat City Singles and Doubles Championship came in the finals where Joel Toy defeated Ramsey Bernard in a hard-fought 1-6, 6-4 (10-7) match for the 4.5 men's title, and Molly Weiss defeated Janet Zacher in a 2-6, 6-1 (10-8) final of the women's 4.0 division.
"The super tie-breaker system made for some interesting tennis," Toy said. "There was no room for mistakes, so the key was to get up early and then hold on."
That's exactly what Toy did in the finals against Bernard. Bernard won a state high school title last fall and kept Toy on his toes in the title match of the city championships.
"At first I tied to trade ground strokes with him, but that didn't work," Toy said. "I had to adjust and start playing my game to beat him."
After trading two sets, the title came down to the super tie-breaker. Toy jumped out to a 5-0 lead, forcing his opponent to make big plays to stay in the match. In the end, Toy was able to hold off Bernard for the win.
The championships, which usually take place in October, were pushed back this season because Steamboat Springs hosted the high school regional tournament in October.
Tournament director Jim Swiggart said the delay caused the tournament to be postponed by a month and couldn't be held until Dec. 3 to 5.
Because the four outdoor hard courts were closed for the season, and there was a field of more than 100 players, changes had to be made in the format to hold the tournament inside.
The biggest changes were the addition of the super tie-breaker for the third set and no consolation rounds. Players also had to accept a schedule that included many late evening matches and a few in the early morning hours.
"Play started at 8 a.m. each day and didn't end until after 8 p.m. each night," Swiggart said.
Despite the time problems, Swiggart said most players were patient with the scheduling and understood the situation.
Other champions included Alex Gibbs in the men's 3.0 singles, Zack Epley in the men's 3.5 singles and Taylor Reed in the men's 4.0 singles.
Catherine Finch won the women's 3.5 singles, and Gillian Kane topped the 4.5 women's singles.
In doubles action Brett Gordon and Jamey Swiggart teamed up to win the 3.0 division, Dan Anderson and Kenneth Klaus won the 4.0 division, and Tim McHarg and Toy topped the 4.5 division.
The women's doubles titles went to Finch and Karel Snell in the 3.5 division, Marilyn and Lisa Floyd in the 4.0 division and Laurie Buelow and Emilie Rogers in the women's 4.5 division.
The annual city championships marked the end of the tournament season in Steamboat, but not the end of the tennis season.
Swiggart said the courts are very busy these days with leagues, lessons and open play. The tournament season will return next spring.