MISSOULA — Don't ever tell Devon Sikora that nice guys finish last.

He's living proof to the contrary on a tennis court.

The amiable 22-year-old from Missoula goes out of his way to make his opponents feel comfortable. Of course the same cannot be said of his big serve and topspin forehand, which made Rory Smith decidedly uncomfortable in the Western Montana Open men's singles final Sunday at Playfair Park.

Sikora, who teamed with Missoula's Kevin Levine to win a men's open doubles title in the morning, completed an impressive sweep with a hard-fought win over Kalispell's Smith in the afternoon, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 10-4. Sikora was simply the best player in the tournament when the pressure was on.

"Literally just going for it was the key for me today," said Sikora, who played for roughly six straight hours between his singles and doubles matches Sunday. "My forearm has been irritating me since this morning. I wasn't going for big, powerful serves, except on certain points where I really needed it.

"But (Smith) was good. He wasn't just a backboard. He was getting there and sending it where I wasn't, moving forward really well."

Sikora, who saved two match points in a semifinal win over Levine, doesn't play many tournaments because he's so busy teaching tennis. He helps at the Peak Racquet Club during the school year and this summer he is serving as head pro for the parks and recreation program in Billings.

In his free time, he works on coordinating tournaments. He will serve as director of the Bitterroot Open next month in Hamilton and he has been talking with well-known tennis buff Jimmy Cripe to bring back a tournament to the Kalispell area.

Because he works with kids so much, you get the impression it's hard for Sikora to turn off his nice-guy approach to tennis, even in the heat of battle. He was quick to compliment the 2019 State AA singles champion Smith on his good shots in Sunday's final. And he was the same way in a doubles final that saw he and Levine dump Stephen Cepeda and Andy Fowler of Helena, 6-2, 6-3.

"I definitely like to have fun," said Sikora, who played his high school tennis in Louisiana and helped coach Loyola Sacred Heart this past spring.

"It really depends on who I'm playing with. If they're fun people, they're fun people. I haven't had many people out here that are not fun to play with. It's always fun to be playing in the Western Montana Open."

In the two-player women's open singles draw, Amy Bellamah-Daniel of Missoula took top honors with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Holly Mahon of Corvallis. In open mixed doubles, Sue Clark of Frenchtown and Mark Odell of Kalispell won a three-team round-robin competition.

Fowler won the men's 4.5 singles title with a hard-fought win over Scott Edman of Stevensville, 6-3, 2-6, 10-4. Bellamah-Daniel won the 4.5 women's singles crown.

Other area champions included: Cheryl Nguyen-Wishneski (3.5 singles); Amy Johnson/Terri Ruthruff (3.5 doubles); Kathleen Bean/Terri Nickless (3.0 doubles); Josh Munro (4.0 singles); Edman/Odell (4.5 doubles); Troy Bean/Ray Nickless (3.5 doubles); Tara Jensen/Munro (mixed 8.0 doubles); Richard/Sheila Schaub (mixed 7.0 doubles); Sherrie Harris/Sarah Miller (women's 4.0 doubles).


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Bill Speltz is the Deputy Sports Editor of the Missoulian. Email him at bill.speltz@406mtsports.com.

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