Zilm fetches top state honors
GSPI Sports Editor
Despite being more than 20 years removed from her days as a Division I player, Phyllis Zilm hasn’t lost any of her competitive fire on the tennis court.
Actually, judging by her performance in 2003, it may be growing.
“It’s always been playing and competing,” Zilm said of her passion for tennis. “It’s definitely the battle I love. I can’t say I would still be playing if I couldn’t compete.”
And Zilm, the girls tennis coach at Glenwood Springs High School for the past eight years, can certainly still compete.
Zilm, who has seven doubles national titles on her resume, won her first United States Tennis Association singles title at the USTA National Hard Courts in the 45s division in October at Sacramento, Calif. She also notched a second-place finish USTA National Indoors in the 45s singles. Playing with Susan Fisher of Grand Junction, the duo also won the doubles crown at both tournaments.
Zilm finished 2003 with a preliminary 45s USTA national ranking of No. 1 in doubles and No. 2 in singles.
The Colorado Tennis Association also took note of Zilm’s performance in 2003 and will honor her with the Joan Birkland Award, given annually to the state’s outstanding female player, at the Hall of Fame Gala Friday, Feb. 20, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.
“It was kind of hard to believe,” said Zilm of earning the player of the year honor. “I live on the Western Slope, and this doesn’t happen to anyone on the Western Slope. It was very cool and still is very cool.”
Although her home in Glenwood Springs may not afford the exposure of a Front Range base, Zilm does get out of the area to play regularly, despite her admitted fear of flying.
Along with her Mountain Section competitive slate and at least two national tournaments a year, she also tries to play at least one international event each year.
As a member of the U.S. International Lawn Tennis Club team, Zilm was a member of the team that caught the Gengler Cup in Canada in 2002. Last year she competed for the team on clay courts in Uruguay and flew home with the Carreta trophy.
Playing in Uruguay, Zilm said she was probably “the only serve-and-volley (player) in South America,” where clay courts are much more common than in North America.
While Zilm doesn’t get much work on clay in Colorado ” and she obviously doesn’t change her playing style ” she gets almost giddy when talking about her next foray on the clay.
The International Lawn and Tennis Club has chosen her as a member of the team scheduled to play in Paris in July. The event takes place at the legendary Roland Garros, home of the French Open.
She’s also hoping to be selected for a trip to Turkey later in the summer. That trip, however, will depend on her work and family schedule. Zilm has been married for 22 years and has three children.
“I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family,” she said. “They’re the ones who take the brunt of all my jaunts. And my crankiness if I lose.”
If Zilm keeps playing like she did in 2003, the crankiness issue won’t be much of a problem.
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