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The Border War – A Colorado Tradition Is Born
FEBRUARY 15, 2011
Defeated ATC Captain Dan Magee (left) surrenders the Sapporo Cup to Winning Boulder Captain John Stegner (right)
Boulder MVPs Tom Houlihan and Brock Borman
½ of the Boulder team. the guys from the North Boulder Rec League, (l-r) Steve Filmer, Brian MacMillan, John Stegner, Brock Borman
It was a dark and starry night, 5280 feet above sea level at the Arapahoe Tennis Club (ATC). You could hear the yelping of nearby coyote’s and the hum of the court lights as players began to filter out onto the courts. Before long, the thin air had balls flying summer fast in spite of the below freezing temperatures. This was not just another night of paddle; this was the beginning of the Colorado Border War.
The term “war” may seem strong and know that it had started as an innocent enough idea. A group of players in Boulder were sitting around the table at a favorite watering hole after an evening of league play. No one remembers who uttered the words, but the phrase “Hey, we should play a match against those Arapahoe guys” was spoken. A rookie player at the table, John Stegner, quickly jumped in as organizer and self proclaimed captain, knowing this would be the only way he could make the team if the idea did become reality. All it took was one e-mail to Cary Hodges, head pro at the ATC and the word was out, Boulder vs. ATC would happen.
Before long, the date for this friendly match had been set for Friday February 11th, 2011. Since there had never been a league vs. league event in Colorado, or in this case really a city vs. city (Denver vs. Boulder), the format had to be developed from scratch. The haggling regarding a point system, team size and such was again good natured enough. Even the initial proposed name in honor of the events generous sponsor, “The Sapporo Cup”, had a genteel air about it. However, as soon as the team rosters began circulating, old grudges on both sides began to surface. At the Colorado Men’s Open tournament, things degraded further as you began to hear phrases such as “You aren’t going to come into our house” and “We are going to bring it”. By the end of the weekend tournament, it was clear that the upcoming event had taken on a life of its own and that testosterone levels were on the rise. “The Sapporo Cup” was relegated to the name of the trophy and the “Colorado Border War” had been born.
When the fateful Friday night finally arrived, it was Team Boulder from the North that quickly jumped into a commanding lead. By the time the second round of matches hit the courts, the Denver ATC Team’s best attempts at staying fired up involved discussing the fact that they had not yet been mathematically beaten. The onslaught continued in the second round, led by strong performances by Boulder’s MVP’s, Tom Houlihan and Brock Borman. At approximately 10 p.m., ATC’s team captain Dan Magee, surrendered the Sapporo Cup trophy; however he made it clear to Boulder that although they had drawn first blood, they had merely won a battle and not the war. It was clear in the clubhouse that evening that the Border War would in fact escalate and rage on for years to come. However, grudges were set aside over some extremely tasty, frothy cold beverages and a unanimous consensus was achieved that Sapporo USA should be approached each year as a sponsor.
In the final analysis, this event was yet another sign of the growth of platform tennis in Colorado. Courts that once stood empty in Boulder are now filled with league play nearly every night. The Arapahoe Tennis Club has to turn more and more players away from their leagues. With player interest at an all time high and the quality of play in Colorado on the rise, it is only a matter of time before more courts start going in.
Everyone is invited to come check out the Colorado Platform Tennis scene at the upcoming Arapahoe Invitational and stay tuned for future updates on the Border War.
(l-r) DENVER: Dan Magee, Chuck Roosevelt, Riley Meyer, Brad Talbot, Buck Dominick, Dan Washburne, Kent Lemon, Ed Hays, Randy Swenson. BOULDER: Bob Ziegenhagen, Tom Houlihan, Curt Corrigan, Steve Filmer, Pete Walters, Brock Borman, Brian MacMillan, John Stegner
Photos courtesy of John Stegner