Denver City Open tennis titles defended by Dann, Bardina
Posted: 06/24/2012 02:57:15 PM MDTBy Ros Dumlao
The Denver Post
Updated: 06/25/2012 02:47:07 PM MDT
Whispers floated among the crowd, asking: "Do you think he can do it? He's only 15 years old."
David Mitchell, who just finished his freshman year at Kent Denver High School, was building a name for himself at the 96th Denver City Open
Advancing as the No. 13 seed, Mitchell upset two NCAA Division I players and a world-ranked player to earn his spot in the men's open singles final. His opponent was the tournament's defending champion and No. 1 seed — Willie Dann, a 40-year-old who didn't shy away from his age.
Dann defeated Mitchell 6-1, 6-4 and repeated as a Denver City Open champion.
In the women's open championship match, the No. 1 seed also defeated a teenager. Vasilisa Bardina swept 17-year-old Erin Gebes 6-4, 6-4 and won her second consecutive Denver City Open title.
Gebes was a standout at D'Evelyn High School and will play college tennis at Marquette.
Dann awknowledged the big age difference in the men's title match.
"It's a different situation, being 25 years older," said Dann, who made his eighth appearance at the tournament and his fourth trip to the final. "There's definitely more pressure on me, because I'm supposed to win."
Dann cruised in the first set, winning 6-1, and Mitchell didn't hide his frustration. Mitchell threw his racquet as he headed toward the bench. He sat down, elbows on his knees, hands folded and head faced down.
"I just knew that I needed to take care of my own serve," Mitchell said. "He was going to hold his serve. I just needed to take care of my serve, and I didn't do that very well
in the first set. I did that better in the second set, obviously, because I won four games."With the afternoon sun blaring down and the temperature near 100 degrees, the fans had reasons to cheer as Mitchell rallied in the second set.
His father, Victor, was a hidden face in the crowd but sometimes was seen walking from one end of the spectator area to another.
"Right now," he said between serves. "Right now. You got this."
"I knew he was going to come back in the second set," Mitchell's father said. "I always believe he's going to win."
Though Mitchell lost the second set 6-4, he and Dann received a standing ovation.
After the title match, when Dann and Mitchell were awarded glass-bowl trophies, Dann said to the crowd, "I got him today, but I have a feeling it's not for much longer."
At 14 years old, Mitchell made a surprise run to last year's Denver City Open semifinals. But his name isn't a surprise at the junior national level.
He captured the 2011 Class 4A championship and was ranked No. 7 in the USTA standings for the 14-year-old division
"My dad got me in when I was 4," Mitchell said. "I started hitting agianst the wall a lot, played in a lot of little kid groups and stuck to it."
Next up, he hopes to qualify for the Junior U.S. Open.
"He's more than a tennis player. He's a great kid," said Mitchell's coach, Peter Richman. "When you have a great kid, and he's willing to learn and willing to work hard every day, great results will happen."
Ros Dumlao: 303-954-1295 or firstname.lastname@example.org