It all came down to these two gentlemen today at the Wii Tennis Virtual Open - Benjamin "Smelonzhay" Melinger (left), a player who had initially signed up for the tournament by chance while visiting a friend at Rockefeller Center, and Peter Reyes (right), who after winning his semi-final match, attempted to job-search the crowd by asking "Are there any principals here? I'm a fully qualified Special Ed Teacher!"
The final match was intense, and was decided only after several deuces. Hit that jump for total coverage and to see who won tickets to the Men's Final of the US Open and a 1-Year Lease on a Lexus IS F...
Melinger takes the gold! Ah, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Don't feel too sorry for Peter, whose smile never wavered throughout the heat of battle. He won tickets to the US Open Semi-Finals, although he admitted, "The car would have been nice." You said it, brother!
As corporate PR events go, this was a pretty sweet setup. The playing field was reportedly a scaled down replica of the actual US Open Tennis Court. Some fair sized crowds formed around the event, although the miniature stands on either side of the court never quite filled to capacity.
Upon first glance, it looked like the players might actually compete on separate sides of the court, but sadly game technology has not yet reached that level of realism - both players in a match faced the same screen, as per the usual.
Color commentary was provided by former professional tennis player Luke Jensen. At first he seemed to be a bit at a loss on how seriously to take the proceedings, but by the time the final four matches rolled around, he seemed comfortable using Wii tennis terms such as "fire serve" and "unreturnable return". In the above photo, Jensen confers with Nintendo's touring Wii Tennis Pro, El Diablo (not there to formally compete, just to showboat).
"How did the Virtual Open compare to Wiimbledon?", loyal G-Nerd fans may be asking. The biggest difference I could see, other than the considerable bankroll behind the Lexus-Sponsored Open, was the pageantry of Wiimbledon versus the more business casual attitude of the Open. No bear costumes or country club attire here. And no, the Rockefeller Center Guard uniform doesn't count as a costume.
It should be noted, however, that grand prize winner Melinger was wearing appropriate tennis attire, which may have given him just the edge he needed.
Here's a handful of other photos from the event, if you just can't get enough.
Related: Geekanerd's Coverage of The Virtual Open
Geekanerd's Coverage of Wiimbledon (including video)