BROOMFIELD — Yannik James has had a brilliant run over the last 10 months on the tennis court.

In his final season at the University of Denver, the native of St Lucia in the Caribbean who makes his current home on the island of Grenada, was named the Summit League Player of the Year and recently the Mountain Region's Most Improved Player.

On Friday night at the Broomfield Swim and Tennis Club, the recently graduated Pioneer added Broomfield Open champion to his list of accomplishments. In an epic three set final against reigning Class 5A high school champion Ethan Hillis of Cherry Creek High School, James prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (14).

"Never had one go that deep into a tiebreak," said James, who fought off three match points in the third set tiebreaker. "This is a good win and it feels good to come out on top."

James, who beat Hillis in last years Denver City Open in three sets, looked early on like he might run away with the match after jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first set. But Hillis, who dominated the high school scene in the fall and has played well throughout the winter and into the summer, rallied to win the second and force deciding third.

Hillis was content to be a wall, getting everything back and pouncing on winners when the chances arose, but was more content to let his opponent make the errors.


It wasn't until the ninth game of the final set that either player faced a break point and James, whose big serve bailed him out time and again in crucial points, twice served aces to eventually pull out the game and stay on serve.

"My serve is my strongest point and when it is off, it is not too good," said James, who recorded 15 aces during the match. "They came at the right time, and I am grateful for that."

Hillis, bound for Amherst College in Massachusetts, was not to be outdone — especially in the tiebreak — kept James off balance with two big aces of his own to make things interesting.

James, who will play in next weeks Boulder Open, has not ruled out a career in tennis and if things break right, he'd love to continue to pursue a dream of doing it for a living.

"It is certainly a dream of mine," he said. "I'm probably going to try and see how I do on the tour and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, but I'm willing to give it a try."

Jon Yunt: or