MISSOULA — With an enticing blend of high school champions and accomplished adult players, the Western Montana Open tennis tourney promises to be a summer treat at Playfair Park.
A total of 118 competitors have signed up to take part in the junior and adult brackets. The juniors will start Thursday and finish Friday and adult competition will be held Friday through Sunday.
Of particular interest to local fans is the men's open singles bracket.
The top seed is 2018 finalist Devon Sikora, an assistant coach for the Loyola Sacred Heart squad this past spring. He will be tested by the likes of Cody Curtis, a state doubles champion for Missoula Sentinel in May, and Dillon's Bradley Rakich, who won State A singles titles the past two years.
Others expected to challenge are Missoula Big Sky senior-to-be Liam Johnson, who reached the State AA singles final two years ago, and Kalispell's Rory Smith, who finished second in State AA singles for Glacier two months ago. NBC Montana Sports Director Kevin Levine, who played his high school tennis in southern Florida, is also expected to make some noise.
"It's an exciting opportunity for some of those junior players to get to see what the adult divisions are like, playing against more experienced players," tourney director and participant Gordon Terpe said.
The finals for the adult competition are slated for Sunday. The junior finals are Friday.
Corvallis standout Caleb Warnken is the top seed for boys 18 singles. He took third in the State A tourney this past spring. The list of players pushing him for the title includes Missoula's Henry Stahl, Nash Sauter and Aiden Watson.
The girls 18 singles bracket features several out-of-state players who are expected to challenge for top honors.
Madelyn Dibble of Spokane is the top seed. Madeline Del Castillo of Longview, Washington, will challenge for a spot in the finals on Dibble's side of the bracket along with Madeline De Leo and Holly Mahon of Corvallis.
On the other side, second-seeded Pilar Santos of Helena will be tested by the likes of Annalee George of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Giovanna Horner of Missoula.
"In all of those divisions, the men's open and the boys and girls 18s, we've got some pretty good talent," noted Terpe.