– “You can have tennis courts, but if you want to have a tennis community, you have to have a tennis program,” says local tennis guru Mike Theile of the summertime sport that had all but overlooked Telluride – until now. The Telluride area indeed boasts its fair share of tennis courts, but there never was much of a tennis community; that is, until Theile and a small group of local tennis buffs put their heads together in an effort to ramp up the local tennis scene. What they came up with is the Peaks Tennis Program, a local tennis program that offers instruction, tournaments, and now tennis camps headquartered at the Mountain Village tennis courts adjacent to the Peaks Hotel. As Thiele explains, the Mountain Village tennis courts have been around for some time, (they are currently managed by the Peaks Hotel,) but a few local tennis enthusiasts “wanted to have a little more fun with it,” he says. “And fun is playing, so we started just by trying to encourage anybody who has ever, or has never, picked up a tennis racket to come out and enjoy the sport with us,” he says of the Tennis Program’s beginnings. So grew the Peaks Tennis Program, which boasts a summer calendar long on activities and events designed for every level tennis player. There are tournaments, round robins, and private instruction, as well as Sunday morning drop-in doubles matches, Friday night double matches, and even free Tuesday evening employees’ clinics open to any area employee, taught by the program’s head pro Bill Austin. New to the local tennis scene are this summer’s Tennis Camps, which have brought a flurry of activity, and interest, to the Mountain Village’s five tennis courts. Thiele and the Peaks Tennis Program brought two groups of visiting players to Telluride for camps last summer, and the response was positive enough that tennis camps have sprung up throughout the summer event calendar this year. There were two camps in June, and there are three camps scheduled for July, with groups of up to 50 players coming from out-of-state to attend. Locals are invited to attend any camp, space permitting, for a cost of $75 per day. According to the Peaks Hotel’s Marketing Director Mike Hess, the burgeoning local tennis program has brought more than just interest in the sport. “It’s really become a great driver of business,” he says, noting that Telluride had never been considered a destination market for tennis players. Yet last year, the Peaks Tennis Program’s camps brought nearly 500 room nights to the Peaks Hotel, and is expected to bring more than 1,000 room nights this summer. “People aren’t necessarily coming to Telluride specifically for a golf vacation, however people are now coming to Telluride specifically to play tennis,” Hess says. For Theile, the local pied piper of Telluride tennis, more people coming to Telluride to play tennis means, simply put, more fun. “Over the years, I’ve always been called upon to play with visitors who just wanted to go out and play tennis,” Theile says. “It’s such a nice, social way of meeting people.” For more information about the Peaks Tennis program, contact head pro Bill Austin at 602/ 570-8778 or Mike Theile at 970/708-0761.