King of the Mountain Open hits Vail | VailDaily.com
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King of the Mountain Open hits Vail

Mitch Painovich, left, of Dillon spikes the ball as Carey Jones, of Denver, jumps for a block during a men's master's playoff game at the King of the Mountain Open volleyball tournamen in Vail. The tournament has run every Father's Day weekend since 1972 with divisions of play for all levels.
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado – Volleyball in Vail is scenic.

The fields and games unfold at the foot of the mountains – tall, majestic, strong and solid.

The mountains look good, too.

The 39th annual King of the Mountain volleyball tournament is back in town for the weekend. More than 500 two-person teams are playing at the Vail athletic fields, Ford Park and other fields around Vail.

That’s a record field for King of the Mountain. It’s the oldest in Colorado and the second largest beach doubles tournament in the United States.

It’s always been one of the best adult tournaments in the Rockies, and is becoming a popular family affair, says tournament director Leon Fell.

Fell runs the tournament and has for years. He paces around the Vail Athletic Fields like an expectant father, seeing to this, checking on that. He has a Bluetooth in his ear, so the staff isn’t always sure if he’s talking to them or someone on the phone.

It’s both, it turns out.

They started playing at 8:30 a.m. Friday. They’ll play through Sunday until they run out of volleys.

“We play rain or shine. Maybe not if it’s snowing,” Fell said.

It’s competitive; these players are in it to win it. But it’s not nasty.

The most serious argument Friday was over whose sunscreen was whose after the sun popped out.

The co-ed and masters divisions started playing Friday.

The men’s and women’s open divisions begin today. Basically, they’re some of the nation’s best players, and they’ll be making a volleyball do things that should require a firearms permit.

For the Fathers Day weekend tournament, there are even father/son and father/daughter divisions.

Around here, Fell runs tournaments in Vail and Aspen. He just smiles and won’t come right out and say he likes Vail better than Aspen, because we’re supposed to love all our children the same.

Speaking of children, people are in from all over the country for this Fathers Day weekend tournament. For example, the Aschenbrenner clan came up from Denver.

Dads and Moms will spend Fathers Day weekend in Vail watching their kids play. In the Aschenbrenners’ case that’s Emma, 17, and Jimmy, 14. Mike is Emma’s and Jimmy’s dad, and no matter what else he might have going on in his life, that tops the list this Fathers Day weekend. Mike’s kids play year-round club volleyball, but it’s their first time playing together and Jimmy’s first time in a doubles tournament. They were winning and Mike was beaming when we saw them.

Haley Carty is a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School, so she didn’t have to come far.

“I love it. It’s a chance to get some more touches on the ball,” Carty said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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