Steamboat Springs What tennis has meant to the Swiggart family of Steamboat Springs is simple: it is why they are. It’s why they live in Steamboat Springs, where Jim Swiggart and wife, Stacy Swiggart, have operated the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs for two decades. It’s even why they’re a family at all, Jim and Stacy meeting for the first time in a mixed doubles match years ago.
Now, it’s not only a part of Jim and Stacy’s every day, but their children’s, as well, both daughter Kylee, 19, and son Jamey, 17, playing through their childhood and now into college.
It’s the sport’s bedrock place in their lives that led the family of four to be chosen as the United States Tennis Association’s Colorado tennis family of the year, receiving the Carter and Lena Elliott Family Award on Friday at Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame ceremony in Denver.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without all the wonderful community members,” Stacy said. “It’s a very nice honor, and we’re very proud of it.”
Jim and Stacy have been lifelong fans of the sport. Both played in high school and eventually in college, Stacy as a part of four Big 8 championship teams at Oklahoma State and Jim while also playing basketball at Western Kentucky University.
The opportunity to manage Steamboat’s premier tennis facility drew the couple to town in 1991 and since they’ve presided over the Tennis Center’s growth, from four clay courts inside a bubble and six outside to the 10 outdoors courts and six indoor courts, which now are housed in a facility completed in 2007.
Stacy has helped manage the center’s pro shop and books while Jim serves as the director and an instructor.
“I love to see the person I’m teaching realize something that makes their game better,” Jim said. ”One of my greatest joys now is teaching a beginner and intermediate Colorado Mountain College class. I really don’t care what skill level it is. It’s just a joy to teach.”
For Jamey, interest in tennis was never a question. He played in the driveway with his parents from the time he was able to swing a racket and was eager to travel to tournaments across the region, the state and even the nation. He wrapped up his senior year playing with the Steamboat Springs High School team in the fall and is set to play NCAA Division 1 tennis at Idaho State University next season.
Kylee, meanwhile, took the sport somewhat slower, playing as a child, but turning her focus to other sports, such as basketball, as she progressed through middle school and junior high.
“I always said I’d never make my kids play,” said Stacy, who grew up with two siblings who also earned major college scholarships to play tennis. “Growing up, it always seemed like a lot of the kids whose parents were really involved didn’t enjoy the sport, and I said I’d never make my kids play. They’d have to ask.”
That eventually happened, and Kylee arrived back at tennis in her own way and found just as much success as the rest of her family. She won a state championship playing high school doubles tennis as a junior at Steamboat and now plays and is the treasurer for her club team at University of Denver.
From a day in training, parent and child trading volleys, to a day on the road, a family on its way to a tournament, to a day spent on the court, a family divide in a grueling mixed doubles match, the Swiggarts said tennis always has helped bring them closer.
“It’s a sport a parent can play with their child and get that extra time with them they might not get otherwise,” Jim said. “It’s a way to be athletic as a family and bond, and at the same time it’s such an individual sport and it really builds character that way.
“It’s a character build and a family builder.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com