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Pacific Northwest Open a Federal Way homecoming for Mitch Stewart

It’s not the biggest or most important tournament he’ll play this summer, but Mitch Stewart is still coming to Washington on a mission: winning the Pacific Northwest Open tennis championships.

“I’m all in,” said the Federal Way graduate and University of Washington commit. “I’m taking it very seriously, and I’m going to be playing as hard as I can.”

The 18-year-old will play against over 50 competitors at this week’s Pacific Northwest Open Tennis Championships at the Tacoma Lawn and Tennis Club. Started in 1891, it’s one of the nation’s oldest tennis tournaments.

Players of all ages and from all around the country come to participate in the tournament and compete for the biggest purse in the Northwest – $22,000.

“It’s a great tournament talent-wise,” tournament director Mike Politeo said. “We have high-level players from all over coming to play, and we get some great matches every year of really great tennis.”

With the tournament so close to home, Stewart will have lots of friends and family in attendance. But he said he doesn’t feel any added pressure from playing a tournament in his own backyard — it actually takes the pressure off.

“It’s nice, because I don’t have to go far like for a lot of other tournaments,” he said. “And a lot of these guys are a lot older than me. I don’t feel like an underdog, but there is less expectation on me with so many other good players here.”

Instead, it’s a chance to spend time in Federal Way during a busy summer tournament schedule. It’s also a nice way to prepare for the biggest event he’ll play this summer, the USTA Boys national championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Stewart will leave for Kalamazoo shortly after the conclusion of the PNW.

“That’s my only tournament left this summer,” he said. “It’s a big one — the winner gets a wild card in the U.S. Open, so I’m preparing for that. This will be a good indication of where I’m at heading in.”

The PNW kicks off Monday with men’s and women’s qualifying singles. The semifinals will take place on Saturday, with the finals on Sunday.

All matches are open to the public.

andy.bixler@thenewstribune.com

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