From Jan. 10-12, players vied for the top spots in the 20th annual tournament.
At the finals of the 20th annual Observer Challenge Tennis Tournament, competitors seemed to admire each other more than the other way around.
As balls ricocheted across the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center’s six tournament courts, encouraging shouts and compliments on well-placed shots were volleyed as well.
Finalists in five divisions hit the courts on Jan. 12 to play in five matches each. Two teams of four (two men and two women) competed in men’s and women’s doubles and singles and a mixed doubles match to duke it out for the title. In Division 4, the champions from the 2019 tournament defended their title.
“We felt very good, and we were on a mission to win again this year,” Joyce Welch said.
Strategy factored in as teams had to consider their players’ strengths in the various modes of play, and the doubles teams conversed often during and between points to get on the same page.
“You got it!” Bob Dreyfus yelled during his doubles match. “No, I got it!”
The crowd, which ebbed and flowed during the many matches, made known which shots they thought were good, too. Oohs and aahs came during key moments of tense points, upping the tournament’s exciting atmosphere.
“I’m leaving now, bye!” Michelle Coates joked after she hit a particularly good shot to win a turning point and the crowd made their awe known.
Even as the afternoon wore on and the sun reminded players just how hot a Floridian January can be, a dedicated cheering squad stuck to the sidelines — specifically for Bryan Goodwin during his singles match. No matter if a team came away with the win or the runner-up position, good-natured handshakes and congratulations were offered to the opponents.