Association aims to help high school, junior tennis

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For most tennis players in Steamboat Springs, the Ore House Singles and Doubles Championships are an opportunity to get on the court.

But for high school coach John Aragon, the Steamboat Tennis Association event is about the future of his girls and boys programs.

"I would guess that 80 percent of the funding for high school tennis programs comes from this tournament," Aragon said. "It's a big deal to us and to the tennis community."

The tournament, which will take place Aug. 5 to 7 at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, offers play in a number of divisions based on each player's ability level.

Players can sign up in divisions ranging from 3.0 singles and doubles to 5.0 singles and doubles.

The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Sunday. Entry forms can be picked up and turned in at the Tennis Center. The cost to enter for STA members is $34 for singles and $64 for doubles. The cost for nonmembers is $50 for singles and $96 for doubles.

Players younger than 18 can play for a reduced price. Young members of the association pay $20 for singles or doubles, and nonmembers pay $25.

"This is our major fund-raiser for junior tennis," said Dominick Riggio, president of the Steamboat Tennis As--sociation. "The money is used to fund high school and youth tennis programs in Steamboat Springs."

The STA is an organization that is dedicated to promoting tennis in the valley. The organization hosts two major tournaments each year, the Old West Steak House Mixed Doubles Championships, which took place two weeks ago, and the Ore House event.

The association also hosts several social events each year to bring members together.

But more important, the group plays a vital role in funding and supporting a variety of junior programs in the city.

For high school tennis, the organization covers about 80 percent of the estimated $20,000 cost to support the boys and girls teams. The squads raise the other 20 percent through the Booster Club and other fund-raising efforts.

The teams also get support from the Tennis Center in the form of price breaks on court time.

Aragon said the teams could not be competitive without the support from all three groups. Last year, about 50 players made up the two teams in Steamboat Springs.

A big chunk of the money to support those teams comes from the Ore House tournament and the auction that accompanies the event.

Riggio said the Ore House event is much larger and typically draws between 100 and 130 players. In addition to offering tennis, the tournament hosts a cocktail party on Aug. 6 and a post-event dinner provided by the Ore House on Aug. 7. The auction is held Sunday evening, and extra dinner tickets may be purchased for $30.

"It's a big help for the tennis team, but this event is also a lot of fun," Aragon said.

Riggio said the event offers association members a chance to get together in a fun, competitive climate, and the money they raise guarantees that tennis will continue to thrive in Steamboat.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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