Pond brothers advance to men’s 4.5 doubles championship at Taco Bell
The first match didn’t start out well for brothers Dick and David Pond.
They were disagreeing and lost the first set in their Taco Bell Western Slope Open men’s 4.5 doubles match.
“The first set I was wondering why I’m out here,” Dick, 56, said jokingly. “David kept telling me to get up to the net. I was watching David play with (his son) Kellen and he was easy on him. He wants you to play the way he plays.
“The pressure’s not playing against the opponent, it’s playing with him.”
The match turned around as the Ponds defeated Craig Burdette and Brian Wright 4-6, 6-1, 10-4 on Friday to advance to the championship in the Ponds’ first Western Slope Open in five years.
“He’s like the most nice, social guy there could be, and I’m like the exact opposite,” David, 50, said of his older brother. “When I get out on the court, I’m very intense. That’s why I have a hard time coming back here. I can’t really dial myself down. The competitive juices start flowing.
“It’s very strained. He knows that going into it, so it’s no surprise when I start chewing on him. He’s got this whole social thing going and I’m all about real estate at the net and smell blood.”
The Ponds grew up in Grand Junction and have played in the annual tournament for several years. David has won the men’s open singles title and the mixed open doubles title with Sandra Elliott back in the day.
David Pond remembers getting discouraged and frustrated playing basketball, so he was encouraged to try tennis or golf. With the Elliotts in town, it was an easy choice.
“These guys had a tennis court and I’d show up with a racket in my hand,” David said. “Carter would yell, ‘Pond’s here, someone go play with him!’ Everybody would be sitting on the couch, so Carter would go play with me. That’s literally the only coaching I’ve had in my life. He’s such a nice man.
“By osmosis hanging out over there, Sandra was eventually forced into playing with me. We got to be pretty good together. We played a lot of mixed doubles together.”
The Ponds have since moved to the Front Range, but occasionally come back to visit their mother and another brother in town, in addition to playing in the tournament.
They entered this year’s tournament for the first time in five years.
David is playing with his son, Kellen, and Dick is playing with his son, Jarred, in addition to playing with each other.
David and Kellen played immediately after David and Dick did, on the very same court, winning 4-6, 7-5, 10-8 in the father/son 18-under division.
Dick, who played in his first Taco Bell Western Slope Open in 1975, and Jarred played their first match Saturday morning.
Dick’s daughter, Lindsey, has played in the tournament before and planned to this summer until an ankle injury forced her to watch with her mother, aunt and grandmother.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch all your family members play, even if I can’t play,” Lindsey said. “My cousin played five matches the other day. It’s a combination of family time and tennis. It’s fun.”
Lindsey, 17, is a two-time doubles state champion at Cherry Creek High School.
David’s wife, Jennifer, hasn’t played a match, but has been there to watch every one of David’s.
“I remember sitting here when we were single and thinking I’m going to be with the open champion here,” Jennifer said. “Now, I’m watching him play with Kellen.”
David tried to talk Sandra Elliott into playing mixed doubles this year, but she declined because of the physical toll it takes. She has a history of back trouble, and instead is helping her family run the tournament and watching her old doubles partner.
David admitted he shouldn’t play competitively after having his knee ‘scoped in the winter, but couldn’t pass up one more run with his brother and son.
“It’s a great history in my family, especially in my tennis life,” David said. “I don’t come back that often, so it’s very rewarding to come back and see the whole (Elliott) family.”