The king's reign has finally ended.
For the first time in seven years, someone other than Andres Cobos took the title in the Fort Wayne City Tennis Championships' men's open singles division.
Cobos, who had won the previous five crowns before the 2020 event was canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, was upended by former Homestead standout Daniel Gilbert in a championship match Monday at Swinney Tennis Center that was much closer than its 6-2, 6-2 score.
“It feels amazing,” said Gilbert, who will be a sophomore at Hillsdale College in the fall. “This is like my fourth year trying, and I finally got it done.”
Though the match lasted only two sets, it took nearly two hours to play as Gilbert, a three-time All-State performer at Homestead, battled with the former IPFW tennis player. In the fading late-afternoon light, they battled for sometimes 20-30 shots in a single point, Gilbert pumping his fist and shouting “Come on!” after winners, and the Guatemalan Cobos muttering to himself in Spanish when he made mistakes.
It was eventually a war of attrition, and Gilbert was prepared.
“It was really physically exhausting,” he said. “That's what I do, that's my game plan. I've played a lot this summer and so just executing the game plan tonight was huge.”
Gilbert picked up an early service break and went ahead 3-0 in the opening set. After the pair traded four games, the eighth game of the set was a marathon that seesawed for more than 10 minutes before Gilbert finally ripped a backhand smash down the baseline and out of Cobos' reach to capture the set.
“It's such a long point, and you just want to finish the point eventually,” Gilbert said. “I was really confident on the backhand today, and I saw an opening and I went for it.”
Gilbert's momentum momentarily stalled when he developed a nose-bleed between sets. He recovered, and Cobos broke his serve in the first game of the second set. Gilbert bounced back, breaking Cobos in the second game and then winning four straight games after the set was tied at 2 to take the title.
“He's very consistent, so I have to try to win the ball,” Cobos said. “It's really hard for him to miss with unforced errors, so I have to risk it and try to go for the winners and I wasn't sharp enough today, so that made the difference.”
Gilbert felt “elation” when he captured the final point and he pumped his fist one more time before striding to the net to shake Cobos' hand.
Monday also saw the doubles competitions get underway. Gilbert will play with Canterbury star Kush Anand in the doubles tournament before heading back to Hillsdale.
As for Cobos, he plans to be back to try to recapture his title next year.
“That was probably the toughest tournament in the last few years,” he said. “That's good, we need more people playing in the tournament, make it more interesting.”