Steamboat Springs It didn’t take Jim Swiggart long to recall the first NTRP Tennis Championships.
And it took the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs director even less time to talk about what this year’s tournament meant.
The Friday, Saturday and Sunday tournament marked the 20th year the championships have been played.
It brought in a record 291 players from across the state, including 20 or so players from Steamboat.
“When we first started, we might have had 100" players, Swiggart said. “I’ve run a lot of tournaments. But I remember this one for the players being genuinely pleased to have a tournament in Steamboat.”
Swiggart first ran the tournament in 1992, and it’s certainly has passed the test of time.
“It’s the longest sanctioned tournament on the Western Slope,” Swiggart said. “There were other events, but those have gone away. It’s all because we have a pretty loyal group of tournament players.”
This year’s record numbers coincide with the addition of the Colorado Cup. The inaugural event was the brainchild of Rick Bolin.
Bolin, a former ski racer, found there wasn’t anything around the state where players could play in a series and accumulate points.
So, he figured, why not put something together.
Bolin put together the Colorado Cup, a 10 tournament series where players’ top six results counted toward the season-ending championship.
The series has included stops in Breckenridge, Parker, Fort Collins, Westminster, Arvada and Boulder.
At each stop, Bolin said tournaments have seen increased participation. That was true for the NTRP Championships, which saw an increase of more than 50 players.
“This one is special,” Bolin said. “The trip to the mountains is special for all the people from the Front Range. It’s really two things. One is the facility in Steamboat is world class. With the clay courts, you have and the indoor courts, I couldn’t compare it to what we have in Denver. There are very few pro-quality clay courts in Colorado.”
Play continues continues through Sunday.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com