Close bonds highlighted in doubles divisions

Carrie Thornton watches as Jeff Thornton returns a high ball during their 7.5 mixed double match against Jim and Nancy Paregian during the Western Slope Open tennis tournament Monday at CMU’s Elliott Tennis Center.

Jim Paregien, right, chases down the ball as Nancy Paregien moves in to back him up during their 7.5 mixed doubles match against Carrie and Jeff Thornton at the Western Slope Open tennis tournament Monday at the Elliott Tennis Center.

There was frustration on one side of the court and satisfaction on the other, and that changed from point to point.

Typical in the world of doubles tennis.

But it’s always a little different when the partner is also the spouse.

“I think it’s easier to get mad at your spouse than you would with a regular person, so you do have just realize that it’s just for fun,” said Jim Paregien.

His wife Nancy smiled and agreed.

It was the battle of the spouses at Monday’s Western Slope Open with the Paregiens battling Jeff and Carrie Thornton.

Jeff is a bit of a newcomer to the game, taking it up about 
18 months ago, while Carrie has been playing for eight years.

Jeff, 50, and Carrie, 47, have only played a handful of times together and this is their first tournament together.

“I really thought we’d have a tough time playing together because everyone I talked to said ‘don’t play with your wife, that’s a bad idea,’ ” Jeff said.

The couples laughed at the description.

“But it’s worked out great. We’ve had a good time playing together,” Jeff said.

The Paregiens have been married for 25 years and have played the game for 10 years, starting at the same time.

“I started with beginner lessons with a series of six lessons and loved it so much that I made him come with,” Nancy said. “We kinda learned together.”

As the two couples battled back and fourth in a competitive but cordial match at 7.5 mixed doubles, there was the typical mix of frustration and excitement, just like in all the doubles matches.

As the more experienced player, Carrie makes sure she doesn’t put too much pressure on her husband of 21 years.

“At first it was a challenge, because he’d get really nervous playing with me,” she said. “So I’d try not to do anything to get him rattled.

“It’s just for fun. We know all of our opponents here in town, so it’s not as nerve-wracking as it would be if we were playing people we didn’t know,” she said.

The couples shared their thoughts on playing together as doubles partners before their first-round match, which turned into a nerve-wracking affair.

The Thorntons pulled out the ultra-close match, winning 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 to advance to the semifinals.

Nancy, 60, and Jim, 63, enjoy good competition, but those competitive juices can sometimes cause a little bit of trouble. They both agree that they never take those irritated feelings home with them.

But the car ride home can be another story.

“We have taken it to the car before,” Nancy said and they both laughed.

Jim agreed: “We’ve had a few very quiet car rides home.”

Nancy said they’ve learned to move on quickly.

“We usually work it out by the time we get home,” she said.

Carrie said she was playing 3-4 times a week and Jeff’s job made it tough for him to find time any time to take up the game. The couple moved to Houston for a short time, but when they returned to Grand Junction Jeff’s work schedule was more suitable to jump into tennis.

Nancy said one of the keys is to take care of your own game.

“All you can do is do your best on your side of the court, and we try not to coach each other much,” she said.

Brother-brother team

Finding compatibility on the tennis court with a family member isn’t just for spouses.

Daniel and Matthew Ness teamed up to play in the men’s open doubles competition on Monday.

In their first tournament together, the brothers, who are Palisade graduates, played well at times and not so well at other times.

“It’s different than playing with anyone else, you have a lot more emotions than you normally would,” 21-year-old Daniel said. “When you play with your brother, you’re a little more amped with each other. When it goes well, it goes really well, and when it goes poorly, it goes very poorly.”

The Ness brothers took a 5-4 lead in the first set against Matt Miller and Jonathan Blair, but that’s when the wheels on the Ness bus started to get loose.

After losing the first set, 7-5, the second set started to crumble for the brothers, and the brotherly cordiality also started to erode.

Miller and Blair went on to take the match with a 6-3 victory in the second set.

The brothers smile about the frustrations of their match but they both agreed that it was still fun.

“If we were younger, it wouldn’t have worked out so well,” Matthew said with a chuckle. “But it’s nice to be able to play together now.”

Matthew, 20, agreed that it gets tougher when things go bad.

“I think it’s more frustrating at times but it’s also good, especially when we’re doing well, but when we’re going bad, it can be very frustrating.”

As the two brothers left the court and walked to their cars, any bad feelings from the match had vanished.

Daniel, who plays on the Colorado Mesa tennis team, was happy to play in a tournament with his brother.

“We’re still having fun out there. Sure there are some struggles but for the most part, its pretty fun,” he said.


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