All mixed up

STA Mixed Doubles Championship finals today

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— At times, the Steam--boat Springs Tennis Association's Mixed Doubles Championships seemed more like a social mixer than a cutthroat competition.

The weekend tournament hosted by the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs as a fundraiser for the association had 56 players in a variety of ages and genders combining to exchange light-hearted taunts and also compete in four skill divisions of doubles play.

"Marriage counseling will be available Sunday afternoon for free," Tennis Center director Jim Swiggart joked.

He estimated that more than 60 percent of the doubles teams participating were husband and wife duos.

Swiggart explained that the skill divisions are based upon the two players' combined United States Tennis Association national tennis ratings, designed as a universal standard to gauge ability.

"It allows a husband and wife to play together that wouldn't normally compete in a tournament," Swiggart said.

The combinations also matched up age groups that wouldn't normally go head to head.

The 7.5 division quarterfinals placed 63-year-olds John Reif and Kathi Skytta against nationally ranked 12-and-under players Jamey Swiggart and Christi Valicenti.

While Reif and Skytta were able to win the match and advance to the next round, moving Swiggart and Valicenti to the consolation draw, they ended up losing their Saturday semifinal match 6-4, 6-3 to Joe and Claudia Bartholomew.

"I love playing in these tournaments, everyone loves playing in them," Skytta said.

"It's the ability to go out there and think you'll be able to kill your opponent, even if you don't."

Rick Lathrop, who came up from Littleton to visit his retired parents, said he decided to play with his wife Debbie in what turned out to be a "fun community thing."

Saturday's events concluded with a doubles exhibition and a party where a trip to this year's US Open in New York, including tickets to the men's and women's finals, were given away as door prizes.

The Mixed Doubles Championships finished this morning with each division's finals matches.

-- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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