Summit County Special Olympics Tennis Players Bring Home Medals

The Special Olympics Summit County tennis team at the US Air Force Academy after statewide competition. From left to right: Erikka Abbott, Abbey Dobrota, Caroline Willis, Diane Mikulis and Gabe Duwaik
Diane Mikulis/Courtesy Photo

Last month, three Special Olympics tennis players from Summit County competed in state-level competition at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Erikka Abbott of Dillon, Gabe Duwaik of Silverthorne and Caroline Willis of Frisco all competed against talented Special Olympics athletes from across Colorado.

Gabe Duwaik makes contact with a forehand while competing in the skills event during the statewide Special Olympics tennis competition at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Diane Mikulis/Courtesy Photo

Abbott, Duwaik and Willis trained all summer to prepare for competition in Colorado Springs. They were joined this season by new athletes Abby Sherman and Anders Dayton. Most practice took place on the indoor courts at the Breckenridge Recreation Center due to frequent summer rains.

Abbott and Duwaik competed in the tennis skills event. Each scored well enough to win a silver medal. Both athletes demonstrated their mastery of forehand and backhand groundstrokes, volleys and serves.

Willis and his tennis partner Abbey Dobrota of Frisco competed in Tier 2 of the Unified Doubles competition. Unified Sports pairs a Special Olympics athlete with another player who does not have a disability.

The duo played exceptionally well together after training throughout the summer to hone their communication and tennis skills. Willis and Dobrota won gold in the Tier 2 division.

Abbey Dobrota, left, and Caroline Willis, right, pose with their gold medals after competing in the statewide Special Olympics tennis competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Diane Mikulis/Courtesy Photo

In addition to Dobrota, the athletes were assisted by several other community volunteers including; Joe Balocco, Christi Barry, Cheryl Davidson, Sally DeLong, Amy Heflin, Eileen Kirrane, LeeAnn Lumsden and Kelly Smith.

“We are so pleased with how our program has developed,” said Diane Mikulis, tennis coach and Summit County Special Olympics Program Coordinator. “Not only have we added sports and athletes, but we now have great community support from our volunteers. It really enhances the athlete experience.

The next sport for Summit County Special Olympics athletes is bowling, which will take place on Wednesdays at Elevation Bowl in Dillon. Other athletes are welcome to participate. Registration is mandatory.

Winter sports start in January and include downhill skiing and snowboarding. Abbott, Duwaik and Willis all competed in the Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games last March at the Copper Mountain Resort. The trio managed to win two medals each in alpine competitions.

The Summit County Special Olympics team hopes to add more winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing if coaches and volunteers can be recruited before the season. Both activities are competitive events at the Colorado Winter Games.

For more information contact Diane Mikulis at

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