It was just another chat between Eric Christensen and Dow Christenson, the respective Dixie and Desert Hills tennis coaches, during a match between the two teams around seven years ago.
They both wanted to start hosting a tennis tournament.
“(We) thought we could do it better than some of the other tournaments we’ve seen around and have it be fun for kids and try to have it all in one location,” Thunder coach Dow Christenson said.
And so the St. George Invitational Tennis Tournament began.
The first time they hosted the tournament, only four other teams came.
Nowadays, it’s blossomed to where Dixie and Desert Hills joint-host two tennis tournaments in both the boys and girls seasons.
The two upcoming girls tournaments in the fall are already sold out, according to Flyer’s coach Eric Christensen.
“We have people that love to come to our tournaments and we even turn teams away,” Dow Christenson said.
Teams from around the state, including 5A and 4A tennis powers from up north, come down to St. George two weekends every season for tournaments.
Two weeks ago was the first of the two boys tournaments in the spring, which featured 12-time state champion Park City, Davis and Maple Mountain were among the field.
Eric Christensen said it was probably the most competitive tournament field they’ve ever had for one of their tournaments.
“It was all the who’s who of tennis, we took our lumps pretty good, us and desert hills,” he said.
Desert Hills and Dixie finished eighth and ninth out of 12 teams, respectively, in that tournament.
This weekend’s tournament, starting Friday at 8 a.m. at Tonaquint Park, is a step down in overall competition level from very high to high.
Among some 5A and 4A schools, such as Clearfield, Spanish Fork, Wasatch and Payson, there are some familiar 3A teams from Region 12 who are playing, including Richfield, Carbon and North Sanpete.
One benefit is players, like Flyers’ No. 1 singles player Tanner Boyer, don’t have to brace for a demoralizing gauntlet of top players with state title expectations.
Boyer finished 11th out of 12 in the No. 1 singles bracket in the previous tournament.
Austin Hardy, the Thunder’s No. 1 singles player, might also have a chance at a high finish.
Both coaches are hopeful they can finish higher than eighth and ninth this time around.
When the coaches decided to host a tournament, it came with a somewhat acrimonious split from Bloomington Country Club, where Dixie, Desert Hills and the other Region 9 schools all played tournaments beforehand.
Christensen and Christenson wanted to do something different and it’s becoming successful, albeit with some minor regrets.
“We probably went about it the wrong way. We just kind of dropped an email out to all the coaches and said we’re going to start our own tournament. Some coaches around the state weren’t happy with us,” Eric Christensen said.
The idea could’ve flamed out after the first tournament they held, which had just four teams come.
But it’s since turned into an event that coaches from around the state clamber to participate in.