They are tennis players like no other. No fancy racquets, high-tech shoes, or million dollar endorsements. Their court is not a well-manicured stadium. It’s the Kickin’ Chicken, and they’re playing for bragging rights, tickets to the Family Circle Cup Finals, and a weekend getaway to New York City.

Sixteen virtual athletes competed Monday night at the Mt. Pleasant Kickin’ Chicken for the rights to play in the Wii Tennis Tournament finals during the Family Circle Cup, the third in a series of four events. The crowd was silent as the players slipped the controllers onto their wrists, their eyes focused on the screen. And with the first serve, the Wii tennis match had begun.   

Using a bracket system, the players, from 5-year-olds in cowboy boots to adults in suits, fought it out on the court. Techniques of the competitors varied, from full-body swings and jumping to the more subtle flicks of the wrist. The winner of the best of three matches advanced to the next round, until two competitors were left: Justin Mackie, a return contestant, and Pate Bryant, an elementary school student who advanced further in the tournament than his dad did. It was a heated competition, with Mackie coming out victorious, despite having been knocked out in the first round in the first week of play. Mackie said that two weeks of practice made all the difference. And in a great sign of sportsmanship, Mackie gave part of his winnings to Bryant.

Think you have what it takes to win at Wii Tennis? There’s one more round left before the finals, next Monday at 6 p.m. at the West Ashley Kickin’ Chicken. Expect to see a few repeat competitors with their game faces on, as well as some rookies.

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