Sixty players are expected to take the courts at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs this weekend for the annual STA Old West Steakhouse Mixed Doubles Championships.
The event is a fund-raiser for the Steamboat Tennis Association, which is a local group dedicated to promoting tennis in the valley. Each year, it sponsors tournaments, social events and is a major supporter of the high school tennis teams.
"This is a big one for local players," tennis center director Jim Swiggart said. "It's a little more social than some of the other tournaments in Steamboat, and it has a more social format."
The tournament's format is unusual because it allows players of different ability levels to compete on the same team.
The divisions are a combination of both players' rankings. The doubles teams are placed in divisions (7.0, 7.5, 8.0, 8.5 and 9.0) based on their combined ability level.
Swiggart said the format allows a 3.5 player and a 4.0 player to compete as a team in the 7.5 division, for example. More important, it allows husbands and wives or friends, who might not get to play together in a more traditional tournament, to join forces.
Swiggart said the tournament is the first big event of the summer for local players.
Next month, the Tennis Center will host the STA Ore House at the Pine Grove Singles and Doubles Championships. That event, which will take place Aug. 5 to 7, usually draws more than 100 players and has a more competitive format that the mixed doubles event.
The Tennis Center also will host the Alpine Bank Steamboat NTRP Tournament Aug. 18 to 21.
That tournament will draw players from across the state, and region to play in Steamboat.