Steamboat Springs It was 110 degrees on the tennis courts in Grand Junction last week, but the temperature wasn't the only thing burning up the asphalt at the Taco Bell Western Slope Open.
"Our players dominated this tournament," Steamboat Springs tennis coach John Aragon said. "I was a little surprised, but it was a happy surprise."
Aragon, who runs the junior programs at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and is a coach for the boys and girls high school teams, said this year's success is an indication of how strong junior tennis is in Steamboat.
The coach took 20 local players to the tournament and returned with nine first-place finishes. Amanda Aragon, John's niece, who spent the week with the Steamboat players, also earned a title in the 18-and-under division.
"Most of these players came out of our academy," Aragon said. "It was a pretty good cross section of players. This is the one tournament we go to as a group in the summer, and it was nice to see our players step it up a level."
Shelby Reed highlighted Steamboat's results on the girls' side. She won the singles and doubles titles in the 16-and-under division.
She teamed up with Delta's Anne Chastain in the 16-and-under doubles match and placed first in the 18-and-under doubles with Amanda Aragon. In the 12-and-under brackets, Steamboat's Christi Valicenti teamed up with Grand Junction's Bronte Hayward to win the division.
The local boys' results were highlighted by Andrew Hoing's first-place finish in the 18-and-under division, Alex Gibbs' second-place finish in the 14-and-under bracket, and Brian Burger's second-place finish in the 16-and-under bracket. Jeff Lambart placed first in the consolation finals of the 14-and-under division.
Hoing spent several summers in Steamboat before moving here permanently last fall. He will be eligible to play with the high school team this season, and Aragon said he will be a welcome addition to the roster.
Lambart teamed up with Kyle Jenkins to win the 14-and-under doubles title. Ramsey Bernard and Reno Boyd took the 18-and-under doubles title after beating Brian Aragon and Hoing in the finals.
In the mixed doubles bracket, Valicenti and Gibbs placed first in the 14-and-under division, and Bernard and Molly Weiss won the 18-and-under title.
"This tournament has always been a good measuring stick for how things are going in our programs," Aragon said. "When I was coaching in Greeley, we used to take players to this tournament, and if they did well it usually meant we were going to have a pretty successful high school season. I'm just happy to see the numbers in Steamboat Springs continue to grow, and to see more and more players getting interested in playing in tournaments like this one."
To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.