Some of the most talented players in the Intermountain Tennis Association will be on hand this weekend as the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs hosts one of the summer's biggest events.
"As far as the level of play goes, this will be the best tournament we will see all summer," Tennis Center Director Jim Swiggart said.
The tournament, the 2004 Intermountain Tennis Association's Senior Sectional Championships, will draw 166 of the best players older than 35 in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Montana.
Swiggart said many of the players in the field have held, or currently hold, national titles in their age divisions.
"This is a terrific opportunity for Steamboat players," JoAnn Lathrop said. "We have a wonderful tennis community here in Steamboat, but this adds another dimension."
Lathrop said many of the top players in Steamboat face each other on a weekly basis. The local players know each other's strengths and weaknesses and are accustomed to playing each other.
But this tournament brings new faces to town and provides a chance for their games to grow.
"This is the first time I have played in this tournament," Lathrop said. "Normally I'm out of town, but this year I get to play in it -- I'm really excited."
Play will begin at 3 p.m. today and continue all weekend. The finals will take place Sunday on the Tennis Center's clay courts. The hard courts will be open for public play, weather permitting.
Swiggart said the field is 10 percent bigger than last year and that the 166 players in this year's events will combine for 247 entries in singles, doubles and mixed-doubles play.
Admission is free, and spectators are encouraged to watch.
This is one of two tournaments this month at the Tennis Center. The Steamboat Tennis Association's Old West Mixed Doubles Championships will take place June 25 through 27. The deadline to enter that tournament, which is open to everyone in Steamboat, is June 21.