Until last year Gil Brown, 61, hadn’t played tennis in 24 years except when he occasionally picked up a racket while on vacation.

But then, last summer, he learned the annual Pritchett-Moore Men’s City Invitational at Indian Hills Country Club was adding an Over-55 division. He couldn’t resist the urge to sign up, and on Friday he competed in the Over-55 doubles for the second consecutive year.

Brown’s partner, Russell Johnson, 58, had also sat out the tournament for over a decade, but the new division brought him back.

“It’s short matches, with it as hot as it is this time of year,” Johnson said. “For us that aren’t in shape, it’s the perfect format. Win or lose, it doesn’t take long.”

Indeed, Brown and Johnson’s 3-4, 4-0, 0-1 (4-10) loss to Clay Wilson and Ben Thurman in the quarterfinals took less than 75 minutes.

The Over-55 divisions use the FAST4 format, in which sets are played to four games instead of six and a 3-3 tie in a set leads to a seven-point tiebreak.

Wilson has known Brown and Johnson for more than 30 years, simply because they’ve been in the local tennis scene for so long. All four are good friends who frequently play recreationally and often chatted and joked in between service games.

Brown’s grandchildren, Ally Brooke and Case, stood on a chair adjacent to the court and took pictures of their granddad, contributing to the close-knit, community feel.

Minutes after the match, though, Wilson, who works at Indian Hills, was quick to emphasize that the Over-55 division is no cakewalk.

“It may be an age group but the competition is really good,” Wilson said. “It’s fierce.”

With a laugh Brown added, “It is competitive. I mean, I’m pretty ill right now. But, you know, the sun comes up tomorrow.”

 

The tournament resumes Saturday morning at 8 a.m.