Throughout the years, Ron Elliott's tennis tournament for young players has had numerous identities.

In honor of the company that helped the Mesa County tennis program come into existence, it started as the Elam Tennis Tournament in the early 1990s. It later became the Community Hospital Tennis Tournament, but now, it has the simple title of the Mesa County Team Tennis Tournament.

The names have changed, but the point has always remained the same: giving young athletes an opportunity to compete in the heat of the summer.

"I started this whole thing in 1986, and it's a long, long story," Elliott said. "Orchard Mesa had those four tennis courts that were worn down. The nets were chain-link nets. So Elam Construction resurfaced the courts, fixed up the nets, then we started our tennis program giving lessons for about 12 kids and eight parents.

"Since then, it's grown.... It's been a really long time."

The 2019 iteration of the tournament, the 27th Elliott has overseen, took place Friday and Saturday at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Elliott compared the format of the competition to the Davis Cup, the premier team event in professional men's tennis. There are three divisions, each with four-player teams that play round-robin matches against each other.

Each division is named after a modern tennis legend.

"The Nadal division is our high schoolers, the Djokovic division is sort of middle level high school players, and the Federer division is middle schoolers," Elliott said.

The Federer Division's Serves You Right oin all their games and Alley Gators went 2-1. In the Djokovic division, Double Trouble held off Sweet Shots, and in the Nadal division, the Fuzz Slappers went home victorious and the Terminetters won two of three matches.

Of course, the point of the competition isn't just to win. It's about having another avenue to compete in an environment that doesn't feel like practice.

Take the Hanks sisters, members of the team Baby Got Backhand along with Callie Witt and Erin Burger.

Kylie and Natalie Hanks both play tennis for Grand Junction High School. Kylie is a rising junior and Natalie is a rising sophomore. Both qualified for the Class 4A state tournament in Pueblo in May.

Neither of them have been playing tennis for more than a few years, but Elliott's tournament has become a staple of their summers since.

"When we started, we got into these kinds of tournaments," Natalie said.

Each has played tennis for about three years, but their turn toward tennis didn't come out of nowhere.

"Our mom played, so we definitely wanted to try it and see if we liked it, which we did," Kylie said.

Speaking of athletics in family lineage, Kylie and Natalie are the daughters of longtime Colorado Mesa baseball coach Chris Hanks. Hanks has led the Mavericks for 21 years, making the Division II College World Series four times with national championship game berths in 2014 and this past season.

"He influenced us a lot," Natalie said.

"Being around baseball and a lot of athletics, we kind of picked it up, too," added Kylie.

Kylie also made it to state in 2018, but this season was her first chance to shine on that stage. She competed in  No. 1 doubles with Lauren Lewis.

"It was a fun experience," Kylie said. "I went last year, but I wasn't able to actually play in it, so it was a much different experience."

This time, her sister tagged along, too. Natalie competed with Burger in No. 3 doubles.

"I think we stayed locked in and stayed focused," Natalie said about her and her sister's early prep success. "It was all about keeping a good mindset."

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