CHEYENNE – Josh Cossitt wasn’t sure he was going to be able to hold a tennis tournament until two weeks ago.
That was the day the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department signed off on Cossitt’s plan to stage the Level 5 District Cup here starting Friday at Holliday Park. The high-level junior event is in its seventh year, and features ranked players from the United States Tennis Association’s Intermountain section. That section includes Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Idaho.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cossitt reduced the number of entrants, did away with the doubles divisions, and got grant money to cover safety measures like touchless hand sanitizer stations. The tournament also will be held exclusively at Holliday Park, as Laramie County School District 1 isn’t opening its tennis courts until next week.
“We waited until the last minute to see what was going to happen,” Cossitt said. “It’s not ideal to run the tournament all out of one location, but we’re just happy to have something for the kids this summer.”
The Intermountain states have different public health orders when it comes to what activities are allowed, and how many people are permitted to be in a space at one time. Compounding matters is that many private clubs are only allowing members on the premises. Many tennis tournaments have had to be canceled for those reasons.
The lack of tournaments makes the District Cup a hot ticket, and helped increase the quality of the field. Cossitt decided to limit each bracket to eight players, and to give preference to players based on their spot in the Intermountain rankings.
“Other than our first year, this is the highest demand for spots we’ve had,” Cossitt said. “The first year, we attracted a lot of elite players, and then we attracted a lot more players from the area. This year, we’re back to getting a lot of the best kids in the Intermountain because they’re all looking for a place to play.
“The level of play in this tournament is going to be really high, especially in the (under)-12 and -14 divisions. Every kid in those draws is ranked in the top 40 in the section.”
The tournament features five players from Cheyenne, including Cheyenne South graduate Brendan Lock. Lock won three consecutive No. 1 singles state championships at the high school level, and finished his prep career on a 55-match winning streak. Lock has signed a letter of intent to be part of the first NCAA Division I team at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah.
Cheyenne Central senior-to-be Emily Needham also is in the field. She won the No. 1 singles state title last fall.
Cossitt kept a handful of wild card spots open for local players, but only used one for Central grad Elijah Norgauer.
“He is at the skill level of the players in this tournament, he just doesn’t have enough ranking points,” Cossitt said. “The rest of the local kids in the tournament got in based on where they’re ranked.”
Touchless hand sanitizer stations will be available at the courts. There also will be no communal sources of drinking water. Only the eight players are going to be allowed on the four-court spread at Holliday Park at any time.
“Tennis is in a really good place compared to some other sports because people realize it’s one of the safest sports you could do during this pandemic,” Cossitt said. “In a tournament like this, you’re really only going to have exposure to the three or four people you play against.”