Growing up, whenever relatives were in town for the Western Slope Open, the Hughes household was a tad over capacity.

"We didn't even have enough beds," said Grand Junction High School junior varsity tennis coach Tracy Hughes. "I slept underneath the ping-pong table. My sister slept in the closet. It was pretty cozy … but I wouldn't change a thing about it."

The Hughes family has long been involved in the local tennis community, with Tracy's father, Tom, once serving as the tennis coach at Central High School. All of the Hughes children played the sport.

"I've known the Hughes family for 25 years," said Colorado Mesa tennis coach Dan MacDonald. "Tracy and I taught tennis together. Heather (Hughes) and I taught tennis together in college at Lincoln Park. Tracy is big in the tennis community."

The Western Slope Open saw the Hughes welcome their relatives from California, including Tracy's cousin, Kevin Harris, a 39-year-old from Chico, California, which is 90 miles north of Sacramento and a mere 14.5-hour drive from the Grand Valley.

Harris and other members of the Hughes' California clan don't make that drive as often as they used to, but he made it this time around.

"I've been doing this tournament since I was kid, possibly 30 years," Harris said. "It was just a fun tournament. It's well-run, the people are nice and it's nice to come back and visit my relatives."

True to the family's tennis roots, Harris works for his mother's tennis clinic in Chico, so he doesn't exactly have to make the trek to Colorado to get his tennis fix.

However, he does generally receive more of a challenge in the Western Slope Open than he does in his local competitions.

"I think it's hard once you get rated high enough, there's nobody else in town to compete with, so it's hard to maintain that," Hughes said. "So he plays in Sacramento some and against college guys whenever he's home."

For Harris, home isn't far off from Grand Junction in terms of size and lifestyle, despite the obvious geographical distance.

"It's not that different," Harris said. "Chico is a smaller town, a college town (California State-Chico), so they're actually pretty similar."

On Monday at the Elliott Tennis Center, Harris beat Cameron Weckerly 6-1, 6-0 to advance to a showdown with MacDonald at 9:30 this morning the men's open singles semifinal.

It isn't the first time the two have met on this stage in these circumstances.

"We played each other about 10 years ago and he beat me in a semifinal in the Western Slope Open," MacDonald said. "We used to have a money tournament called the Elam Classic and we played in that, too."

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