Game, set, match: Pelham Challenge a success
The Pelham Civic Complex was transformed into a tennis arena Wednesday night as the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, teen sensation Melanie Oudin and No. 2 ranked American Sam Querrey were on hand for the Pelham Challenge tennis exhibition.
Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Billy Crandall said the event was a success, estimating 1,200 to 1,500 attended the event.
Pelham was among four cities on the tennis tour, which also included Atlanta, Nashville and Chattanooga.
The “Rick and Bubba Show” was the primary sponsor for the event, with co-host Bill “Bubba” Bussey even playing with tournament director Trevor Short in a tiebreaker against the Bryan brothers.
The Bryan brothers won, 10-7, despite playing the final points as part of a human chain with 17 kids.
“You’ve got the No. 1 doubles team in the world and I’ve been playing tennis for three years. I think it’s a pretty good match up,” said Bussey, as the crowd erupted in laughter.
Oudin and University of Alabama star Courtney McLane began the night with a one-set match, with Oudin winning 6-0.
“I had a blast,” McLane said. “There’s a reason she’s top 50 in the world. She’s legit.”
In the next match, Querrey took on the No. 5 ranked American, John Isner, in a best of three match, with Querrey winning 6-3, 6-4.
However, the highlight of the match occurred following a grueling point in which Querrey turned his racket over to 12-year-old Ben Friedlander.
On his third strike, Friedlander dropped a shot that died just over the net before Isner could get to it to earn the point.
“I was pretty nervous,” Friedlander said. “It was crazy.”
Despite his trouble with Friedlander, Isner had just as much trouble with Querrey.
“This was a great event,” Isner said. “Unfortunately, he was too good tonight.”
Junior Tiebreak Challenge winners Andrew Crum, 16, and Sam Cissell, 16, had the first shot the Bryan brothers, something both kids said was a blast.
“We took it easy on them,” Cissell said.
In the night’s final match, Isner and Querrey took on the Bryans in a best of three doubles match, with the brothers winning 6-1, 6-3.
“It’s good to be here in Pelham and we had a lot of fun tonight,” Mike said.