A local tennis academy aims to improve our state’s lagging game.
Colorado’s trophy case is bursting with gold medals and world championship titles—skiing, swimming, boarding, running, you name it. But there’s a noticeable lack of hardware for one sport that typically thrives in sunny climes: tennis. While California boasts more than 500 players who rate among the top 200 in their divisions, Colorado claims only 26. Even when you account for the Golden State’s larger population (seven times ours), the numbers seem to be out of whack.
Ryan Segelke is determined to change that. Three years ago, the 31-year-old tennis pro from Eaton opened High Altitude Tennis (HAT) in Parker. So far, he appears to be accomplishing his goal: HAT students (local juniors to pros) have already won 22 championships this year, and since 2010, 22 junior players have earned scholarships to the likes of Stanford, Tufts, and the University of Denver. International junior players who completed the HAT program moved up an average of 908 (!) places in the world rankings, and top-rated Chinese players have traveled to Parker to train.
Modeled after foreign training facilities like Spartak (the Russian tennis center that spawned the careers of Maria Sharapova and other top players), HAT offers small-group instruction—three students per coach—to talented young tennis players over an intensive nine-week program.
Segelke, who played on the pro circuit for about three years, is selective when it comes to his players; HAT only enrolls around 60 six- to 18-year-olds at any given time, and last month, he launched a full-time training course for juniors between ages 12 and 15. The intense residential program allows students to train year-round while taking accredited online high school classes. It’s a move that Segelke hopes will help bring a few more tennis cups home to the Centennial State. highaltitudetennis.com