Cori Gauff of the United States plays a backhand in her Ladies' Singles fourth round match against Simona Halep of Romania during day seven of Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2019 in London, England.

Cori Gauff of the United States plays a backhand in her Ladies' Singles fourth round match against Simona Halep of Romania during day seven of Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2019 in London, England. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images/TNS)

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Let's discuss what Coco Gauff won before replaying how she lost. Her family, for instance, had to arrive an hour early to her match, at 8:30 a.m. Monday, to her father's Paradise Sports Lounge in Delray Beach.

Brothers. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Grandma Yvonne and Grandpa Eddie came early, too, aware the last time Gauff played at Wimbledon her father's bar was threatened with an overcrowding citation.

"We had to get here in case the doors had to be locked this time," Grandpa Eddie Odom Jr. said. Another family member said Monday, "Say there's 150 people, so we don't get in trouble."

But wait. That's just the start of her hometown's Coco-mania. Food was imported to the party, too. A breakfast burrito bar was set up. A barista served everything from hot espresso to cold coffee.

"What's the plan?" Delray lawyer and family friend Lee Cohen asked on Sunday night.

"The kitchen will be closed it's so early," Coco's aunt, Joy, said.

Cohen ordered the food. There were even Cinnaholic bakery employees wading through the crowd with trays of sweets for Gauff's family and fans.

So she lost her fourth-round match to seventh seed and former No. 1 Simona Halep, 3-6, 3-6. So what? Her magic was made. Her name went up in lights. Her 15-year-old game sends her name across sports like a meteor across the sky.

Even if everyone wanted Coco-mania to continue, by Monday's match, her story had become such it wasn't just local media setting up cameras. ESPN went to live shots of the scene at Paradise Sports Lounge, too.

The sports bar that had 100-200 customers for a weekend night got more than 500 a night this past weekend. And not just black customers that typically came, the bar employees noticed. White patrons also came. The entire community, you see, found a shared passion.

Among all those calling to come for Monday's match was a celebrity the family suggested probably shouldn't come due to, well, the very-real threat of overcrowding.

"Oprah wanted to come," a family member said. "We'd have been shut down for sure if she came and word got out."

As Grandma Yvonne said after Monday's loss, "Look around at what she did. Look what's happened in here. Look at all the people who've come out, come together, to see her."

Sports is always looking for the next sensation, and Gauff announced herself over this past week. At 15, she became the youngest to play at Wimbledon in the qualifying era.

She became the youngest to win a match since 1991 in beating her hero, Venus Williams, in the first round. In the third round, she was down two match points and rallied to win.

As if to conjure up some of that magic, Grandma Yvonne stood up when her granddaughter was down to two match points Monday and started a chant, "Let's go, Coco!"

Halep hit a ball out.

"Let's go, Coco!"

Gauff hit a winner at the net.

"Let's go, Coco!"

When Gauff won that game, and gave a comeback new life, the bar cheered and hugged and even waved white hankies that were passed out because the family is Dolphins fans and the grandparents waved white hankies in 1972.

Halep, who began the tennis year at No. 1, proved too much, though. Down to the final point, Grandma Yvonne stood up from her family table when Halep was a game from winning.

"You're a winner no matter what, Coco!" she said.

When Halep hit the winner, when the match was over and Gauff's great run ended, no one in the family was predicting greatness ahead. The grandparents talked of work. They talked how too many errors were made.

"You can't do that against a player as good as Halep," Grandpa Eddie said. "So she'll come back and learn. She'll get better. I know how hard a worker she is. One match at a time. She'll improve her game."

During ESPN's broadcast there was talk of, "she's just 15" and "room to grow" and "learning experience" as Monday's outcome grew clear.

But what a run it was. What a time. And as Gauff shook hands with Halep, her family stood up at their tables and started a sing-song chant of, "We ... are ... proud ... of you. We are proud of you!"

Soon the chant rang through the sports bar. It spilled out the doors as passersby looked on. It grew loud and loving and, for a 15-year-old whose star is just going up, it comes with the wonderful idea this story is just getting started.

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

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