Everyone at Taco Bell spreading word about voting for GJ as best tennis town

As Lena Elliott watches, Charlie Monfort gives a thumbs up sign after voting for Grand Junction as the best tennis town Thursday at Saunders Fieldhouse.

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The timing was perfect — voting for the USTA’s Best Tennis Town fell right smack in the middle of the Taco Bell Western Slope Open in Grand Junction.

Hundreds of tennis players and their families and friends are filing through Brownson Arena this week to check in for matches and report scores.

Between those two areas sit two long tables, each with two computers hooked up and logged on to the Web page to vote. The video that touts Grand Junction plays nonstop on a large screen next to the tables.

Even the Colorado Rockies owner was stopping by to cast his vote.

One problem: The wireless Internet server on campus was upgraded Wednesday night and there was a glitch. No Internet access in the gym. People from the Information Technology department were working on it feverishly to get a connection reestablished.

Then, Rockies owner Charlie Monfort stepped into the gym. Poof! The World Wide Web was back.

Monfort, a trustee at the college, joked that he noticed the internet was unplugged outside, so he stopped and reconnected it.

He and a friend traveling with him to check out the campus expansion and the nearly completed Monfort Family Human Performance Lab sat down and logged in. Monfort popped a sucker in his mouth — a little thank-you treat for voters — and tried to submit his vote. It kicked back that he’d already voted.

“Wait, I’ve got another e-mail address,” he said, using a completely legal tactic — you may vote once per e-mail address.

“I’ve voted twice, my wife has voted, my kids have voted, the 17- and 16-year-olds, my 5-year-olds don’t have e-mail addresses,” Monfort said.

And the Rockies have voted — the front office, at least.

“I don’t have the players’ e-mail addresses, but I can guarantee there are a lot of e-mails coming out of Coors Field,” he said. “Greeley (where Monfort lives) is a pretty good tennis town itself, and Greeley’s supporting Grand Junction; they’re all over it.”

Monfort was the first of several people to cast their vote Thursday. Mary Arellano helped her children, 12-year-old Alyssa and 16-year-old Aaron, get logged in. The Arellanos are from Montrose, and Aaron has been a frequent visitor to the courts in Grand Junction this summer, playing in the Elam Junior a couple of weeks ago.

“This is a great tennis tournament they have here,” Mary said. “That would really be neat (to win).”

Ed Andrews, a fixture in the tennis community, showed up Thursday to vote, but he didn’t have an e-mail address. He got some help to register for a free e-mail account and within minutes had added his vote for Grand Junction.

Two months ago, Lena Elliott, one of the people spearheading Grand Junction’s campaign, didn’t have her own e-mail account, either. Now she’s sending blanket e-mails to everyone she knows, urging them to vote.

“I sent one to the college board, ‘Help, help, help.’ I told them the deal and that ‘I need you to vote, I need your family to vote, your friends to vote and even your enemies,’ ” she said, laughing. “I don’t care who votes, just get the vote out.”

Players who would benefit from upgraded and expanded facilities are urging everyone they know to vote, even if they’ve never picked up a racket.

Ben Steele, a 16-year-old student at Fruita Monument, stopped by the tournament to watch a couple of buddies play.

As they were waiting for court assignments, Cody Iden and Ryan Hautzinger sat Steele down and made him vote.

Hautzinger and Iden said they’ve each gotten the word out.

“Double digits,” Iden said.

“Definitely double digits,” Hautzinger said. And yes, he instructed his father, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, to spread the word at the Mesa County Courthouse.

“We are competing with big cities, but I have a feeling that a community like us that’s small, we probably get more people excited about it,” Elliott said.

“Everywhere I go, ‘I voted, I voted!’ People who know nothing about tennis. It’s really caught on in the community. We’ve got a lot going for us.”


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