Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

DU talent dominates City Open tennis tournament

Talk about a sweet treat for DU. When the last ball was struck on June 21 at the 93rd Denver City Open tennis tournament, DU was on the winner’s platform in four of the five top events.

The surge of Pioneers was lead by Mallory Voelker, this year’s women’s team No. 1, who captured the singles crown, then teamed with Scott Warner of Greeley to win mixed doubles.

Men’s head coach Danny Westerman and assistant coach Chris Lam won the men’s doubles open event. And former women’s head coach Amy Jensen grabbed the women’s doubles title with Alexandra Leatu of Littleton.

“I hope this shows the high level of coaching and athletes we have here,” Westerman says. “And our guys are better than the coaches!”

So might be the DU women, who were well represented by the dominating play of Voelker. The spring 2009 graduate crushed all comers in the singles competition, giving up only 10 games in four matches.

Voelker, coming off a 20-2 season record at DU and a national singles ranking of 59, entered the Denver tournament as the No. 1 seed. She made quick work of a variety of strong collegiate players, a pro from Steamboat Springs and 2006 city open champion Rhona Kaczmarczyk. Voelker then breezed through the finals, defeating Marie Matarka 6-1; 6-2.

Voelker’s mixed doubles victory with Warner was over a tough team composed of 2009 singles champion Cory Ross and his partner, USC standout Elizabeth Marsico of Englewood. Voelker and Warner dropped the first set 6-3, then roared back to take the next two, 6-3; 6-2.

The women’s doubles crown was a three-set slugfest won by Jensen and Leatu, 7-6; 2-6; 6-1. Over the past three seasons, Jensen coached the Pioneers to a 53-18 record, earning Sun Belt Conference coach-of-the-year honors in 2008 and 2009. She resigned in May.

The men’s doubles victory for Westerman and Lam ended up as a bit of retribution for a tough outcome in singles. The luck of the draw had pitted head coach Westerman against Lam, who edged past his boss in a close match. The next day Lam suffered a hard-fought semifinal loss to eventual runner-up Clancy Shields, 7-5; 6-4.

Winning the doubles title took some of the sting out of the singles losses, though it was at the expense of Lewis Miller and Willie Dann, who served DU this season a volunteer assistant. Westerman says Dann was “a huge contributor to our program.”

“We were down 4-1 in the first (set) but we felt we were in every return game,” Westerman recalls. “I hit a lucky shot off the frame at 4-4 in the tie-breaker. We won that 8-6. Doubles can turn on a dime.” Westerman and Lam then jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second set and held on for the victory, 7-6 (8-6); 6-3.

“It was fun. We were hoping to do well,” says Westerman, noting that the strong showing by DU in the tournament should advance DU in the eyes of the regional tennis community. “A lot of people come out and watch these events. It’s part of the process of growing the program, creating some buzz.”

Next up is the Colorado State Open in September, which will see not only the coaches enter, but also four returning DU varsity players from the men’s team. Women’s team players are expected to enter as well, though that may be at the discretion of whoever is named the new women’s head coach.

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