David, Kathy Elliott bring new approach to Central tennis

During a break in play, Central High School coach Kathy Elliott raises her hands for a high five from her #1 doubles team of Matt Champlin, left, and Kurt Faller after giving them direction in their game against Montrose.

David and Kathy Elliott aren’t ready to start any sibling rivalries on the tennis courts just yet.

The siblings, whose younger sister is Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott, made their coaching debut Saturday with Central High School’s tennis team as the Warriors fell to Montrose 4-3.

“Our goal is to get these kids to improve,” David Elliott said. “The winning part will take care of itself.”

The two bring the type of experience to the Central program one would expect from an Elliott who lives in Grand Junction. Both are instructors in the Mesa County Tennis Program, and Kathy spent 17 years as the girls coach at Greeley West.

Kathy said she hadn’t planned on getting back into coaching high school tennis after she retired from teaching and moved back to Grand Junction, but when previous Central coach Steve Tyler moved to Iowa for a college tennis coaching job, she gave it more thought.

“Central called us and said they needed help, so Dave and I said ‘Let’s go do it,’ ” said Kathy Elliott, a former two-time state champion for the Tigers. “We are having a blast, and I’ve had more fun than I thought I would.”

Both said Tyler had put a good system in place, but they’re excited to try to expand the program. David Elliott said they spent the first two weeks of practice implementing their style and philosophy.

“Steve Tyler did a wonderful job of getting the kids to come out,” David Elliott said. “So now the kids are adjusting to our style, and have been very receptive to that.”

Tyler Zimmerman, who lost his match Saturday to Tyler Betz 6-4, 6-2, is in his first year at No. 1 singles. He said the Elliotts’ approach has helped him early in the season.

“They bring a lot of experience, and they know how to teach us,” Zimmerman said. “I’m learning things I never knew, and it’s not necessarily better, but it’s a different approach and I think it works.”

David is working with the singles and Kathy is in charge of the doubles teams. Saturday it was the singles that had a better day, as Austin Krebill defeated Aaron Arellano 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2, and James D’Annible defeated Zach Decker 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3.

At No. 1 doubles, Central’s Kurt Faller and Matt Champlin defeated Joe and Wean Nunez 6-7, 6-2, 6-2. Montrose went onto win the next three matches and clinch the dual.

Kathy said a big part of the doubles teams’ success will be changing their approach.

“My goal is to teach the boys how to play real doubles, not staying on the back and wailing on the ball. We are going to get to the net,” Kathy Elliott said. “I have to bust down a few walls but I’m going to do it, because we have great kids who are willing to learn.”

Another purpose of taking the coaching spot at Central was so the two could help continue to build high school tennis in the Grand Valley and make Central more competitive with their sister’s team.

David said he believes that can happen.

“We are looking forward to competing with (Grand Junction),” David Elliott said. “They have quality players that play so much. That’s why Kathy and I took this program, because we can do the same thing in this part of the valley. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”

Carol Elliott hopes her brother David lives up to his word.

“I think it’s great for Central,” Carol Elliott said. “We are a close family and we are excited for them, but we’ll still be trying to kick their butts.”

The Tigers have another competitive team this season despite adding four freshmen to the varsity roster, including Spencer Weinberg at No. 1 singles. Last year’s No. 1 singles player, Owen Gartner, moved to No. 3 singles and Parker Hegstrom bumped up to No. 2 singles.

The doubles teams are led by the No. 1 team of Charlie Reicks and Sam Morgan, who are in their third year of playing doubles together.

The Elliott family coaching contest begins Thursday at Grand Junction, but first the Warriors play Tuesday against Fruita Monument.


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