Bernard and Caress square off in City Championships

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James Swiggart/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs High School senior Ramsey Bernard, left, and Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs pro Andy Caress faced off Sunday for the city tennis championship in the men's master's division. Caress won the match in three sets but praised Bernard's talent and potential.

— There's no doubt that Ramsey Bernard and Andy Caress know each other's games well.

Bernard, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, won the No. 1 singles state tennis championship for Class 4A on Oct. 13 in Pueblo. On his way to the state title, Bernard worked on his game with Caress several times a week at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

In the finals of the 2007 City Tennis Championship Men's Masters Division on Sunday, the two played a full match for the first time.

And what a doozy it turned out to be.

Caress - who holds countless tennis records at Division I Coastal Carolina - outlasted Bernard in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

"I'll usually give some instruction when we're doing our practice sets, but today it was almost like he could have been giving me some instruction at times," Caress said. "He played really, really well. Especially in the first set. He came out firing and it took me a while to get into the match."

Bernard and Caress split the first two sets, each playing a dominating brand of tennis.

In the third set, Caress jumped out to a 3-1 lead before Bernard finally got back on serve to tie it up at 3.

Then, in maybe the game of the match, the two went back and forth. After both had taken advantage several times, Bernard had two double faults on deuce to give Caress the game and a 4-3 lead.

Bernard held his serve one last time before Caress' experience and power finally took over.

"Two years from now, he's going to come back and whoop me," Caress said. "It's not even going to be funny. When I was a senior in high school, I had the same kind of game. I really matured in college and cleaned up my double faults and loose errors."

The Bernard-Caress match wasn't the only one of the day featuring two distinguished players.

In the Ladies Masters Division finals, Stacy Swiggart - a four-time Big Eight champion at Oklahoma State University- squared off with Fabiola Katthain.

Katthain, who was ranked in the top 18 in girls singles in Mexico and played No. 1 singles and doubles at Instituto Technologico de Monterrey, struggled with Swiggart's baseline game and fell in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3.

The City Tennis Championships finished Sunday, crowning 14 champions in doubles and singles play.

"It's nice," Bernard said. "It's definitely nice to have all the people in the tennis community out and playing in the same tournament. It's nice to get everybody out."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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