Organizers ‘pickled’ pink to be hosting new fundraising tournament at Steamboat’s Tennis Center | SteamboatToday.com

Organizers ‘pickled’ pink to be hosting new fundraising tournament at Steamboat’s Tennis Center

Pickleball will take center court this weekend as the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs hosts its first regional tournament.

Players will fill the courts of the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs this weekend for a huge summer tournament, but this event is not typically what most people would expect at a tennis facility.

"The beauty of this event is that it is a collaborative effort between the Tennis Center and the Steamboat Springs Pickleball Association," tournament director Terry Doherty said. 'We want to raise as much as we can for the new building and our new vision."

It will be the first time the Tennis Center, or the local pickleball association, has hosted a tournament of this size that draws players from outside of Steamboat Springs. In the past, tournaments have been primarily for local players and have taken place in a more informal setting.

Doherty said she expects this event to reflect Steamboat's more laid back attitude but believes the competition will be top notch in the upper divisions.

Doherty said the first-ever Steamboat Springs Western Slope Pickleball  Tournament will put the spotlight on the Tennis Center's new courts, which were completed last fall. It will also complement a series of regional tournaments that are already being held in other Western Slope towns in Colorado.

Doherty said all eight of the center's outdoor pickleball courts will be used this weekend, along with two indoor tennis courts that can be converted into eight indoor pickleball courts with a few rolls of tape. But she was quick to point out that the addition of those outdoor, pickleball-specific courts last fall is the reason this tournament is possible.

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By Wednesday, 103 players had signed up to compete in the inaugural event — an event that Doherty is hoping will grow into a summer tradition. The tournament will include both doubles and mixed doubles and will feature 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 divisions. Because some players will compete in the doubles and mixed doubles divisions, there will actually be 164 entrees in the event.

The tournament opened Friday morning with play in the 3.0 division. Saturday will consist of doubles play in both the men's and women's divisions, and Sunday will feature mixed doubles divisions.

“We wanted to get on the radar," Doherty said. "I think this event will be a good start in doing that."

Tennis Center professional Loretta Conway agrees and is thrilled that the event will raise money to increase the presence of pickleball in the valley.

The money from this weekend's events will be used to help expand the west end of the Tennis Center and add five additional pickleball courts and a social area. Conway said the group will be running a number of fundraisers to reach the estimated $800,000 price tag.

The group also plans to submit a proposal later this summer to fund the expansion with accommodations tax revenue. If all goes well, supporters are hoping the expansion could begin as early as next June.

Either way, Doherty is happy that the Steamboat Springs Pickleball Association will be hosting its first real pickleball tournament, and taking its place on the list of events offered on the Western Slope.

Doherty said the group is also planning other fundraisers with hopes of raising the money needed to expand the facility and said that anyone wishing to offer their support can contact Audrey Small at assmall@aol.com

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966