Breckenridge NTRP underway |

Breckenridge NTRP underway

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc

BRECKENRIDGE – They came from North Carolina, Boulder and other Colorado towns, just to knock around a fuzzy yellow ball. A tennis tournament sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association began Friday at the tennis courts by the recreation center in Breckenridge. The tournament, called the Breckenridge NTRP, allows players to compete with similar competition from around the state, said John O’Connor, tournament organizer and director of tennis for the rec center. While players from Castle Rock, Boulder and Colorado Springs signed up, tournament organizers hope that local athletes will have an edge. Playing at 10,000 feet all the time should be an advantage for the Summit County competitors, said Tim Wyatt, assistant director for tennis at the Breckenridge Rec Center. Steve Lakowske, who traveled from Boulder for the tournament, said he noticed a difference in his game when he played at altitude.

“I was hitting balls out all day,” Lakowske said. While the thin air may affect the way the ball travels, one local competitor didn’t see any difference in energy from the low-altitude players. “These women are in such great shape,” said Marla Meadows-Gaspard of Blue River. Meadows-Gaspard won her first match of the tournament 6-1, 6-3. Her opponent hailed from North Carolina. Meadows-Gaspard played the game in her school days, but only started playing again eight weeks ago. She credits the clinics put on by tennis director John O’Connor for her success.

Local players are excited to be playing against some “different faces,” Wyatt said. Summit County tennis players compete indoors against each other all winter, so the influx of different competition in the summer is refreshing for the players, Wyatt added. One Summit County athlete agreed with Wyatt. Getting to play new opponents “makes it great,” said Shelley Gothard. Gothard and Marla Meadows-Gaspard are in the tournament as a doubles team. Their first match together is this morning. Tournament Details

• NTRP stands for national tennis rating program. Ninety-two people signed up for the tournament, but organizer John O’Connor said he expects around 70 players to show up over the course of the three-day tournament. • Under the United States Tennis Association rating system used for the tournament, a player can be rated from 1.0 to 7.0. O’Connor said that a 1.0 represents a complete novice, someone who had never picked up a racket before. 7.0 is the ranking for a professional champion like Roger Federer. The United States Tennis Association sponsors these local and statewide tournaments, and also governs the national U.S. Open tournament, held annually in New York City. • This weekend’s tournament will feature players rated 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0. That range includes some “very nice club players,” O’Connor said. • Matches will be played between players who share the same ranking. O’Connor said that 15 matches were scheduled for Friday, with 42 planned for today. To handle the overflow of matches, some tournament contests will be played out at the courts at Carter Park in Breckenridge.

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