Great Finish for Men’s Pro Am Tourney

Posted: October 23, 2019

The NorthBay Healthcare Men’s Pro Championship wrapped up seven days of exciting tennis on Sunday, Oct. 13 with a pair of competitive finals, a large enthusiastic crowd, and viewership from a worldwide cable television audience.

The tournament went off without a hitch, even though the PG&E-mandated power outage in the middle of the week cut off electricity to the host Solano Community College campus in Fairfield for a day and a half. A large generator was brought in to keep the tournament going strong.

Nothing seems to stop this tournament, not the rains of 2016, the nearby fires of 2017, nor the outage of 2019.

“This event is great because it brings people to Solano College who might not otherwise know what a great institution it is,” tournament director Phil Cello said. “It also allows people in the community to see world class tennis from just 10 feet away.”

Tournament festivities got under way Sunday night with a pro-am event on the host Solano courts. Sponsors had the opportunity to play alongside many of the competing pros. Chris Matthews, NorthBay’s director of real estate, and Tim Kang, a NorthBay respiratory care practitioner II, got to participate.

Keiko Sargent, director of Musculoskeletal Health Services, represented NorthBay at the Wednesday night Sponsors Mixer along with Neil Pathare, M.D., orthopedics and sports medicine.

Matches began Monday morning in what became a 48-man singles draw, and there was a field of 16 teams in doubles.

The NorthBay tournament is an annual ATP Challenger event, meaning it’s full of talent that this year came in ranked from No. 99 in the world and beyond, playing for a total purse of more than $100,000.

Christopher O’Connell of Sydney, Australia, was crowned as this year’s singles champion after a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach. Christopher, 29,  came in ranked 192nd in the world and with a blistering one-handed backhand took down the top-seed for the $14,400 in prize money and enough coveted ATP rankings points to move him to 149th.

Steve, 29, is one of the most decorated collegiate players of all times, winning two individual NCAA titles at USC and helping the Trojans to four consecutive team titles. Steve also has four titles on the ATP Tour, five in the Challenger series, numerous appearances in tennis’ majors, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in doubles with Jack Sock. He was 99th and moved up to 86th in the world.

The doubles title went to Peter Polansky of Canada and Darian King of Barbados. They beat Andre Goransson of Sweden and Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands 6-4, 3-6, 12-10. It was the second title for the pair of Polansky-King.

All the matches were streamed online through the ATP and USTA. Weekend matches were broadcast live on the Tennis Channel. During those broadcasts Celia Esposito-Noy, superintendent and president of Solano Community College, and Steve Huddleston, NorthBay’s vice president of Public Affairs, were able to discuss their organizations and the relationship they each have with the tournament.

“The weather has been great and the level of tennis has been the best it has ever been,” Steve said to the television audience. “Phil Cello came to us three years ago with the tournament and said he wanted it to benefit the foundation and bring tennis to kids in the community, so to us, it was a perfect match.”

NorthBay became the title sponsor of the tournament in 2017. Having the title sponsorship has many benefits, but none are more important than helping the tournament support the Dr. Chris Cammisa Tennis and Education Foundation. The nonprofit helped bring men’s and women’s tennis to Solano Community College, and also introduces tennis and a related educational program to underserved youth throughout Solano County.

Dr. Cammisa was a past chairman of NorthBay’s department of family practice and also an active advocate for young athletes throughout Solano County. Shortly after his passing in 2014, the foundation was named in his honor.


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