February marks the 22nd edition of the Observer Challenge tennis tournament at Longboat Key's Public Tennis Center. More than 100 players compete each year.
Tennis center manager Kay Thayer attributes its success to a “unique format.”
Players are divided into four-person teams with two men and two women. They play a six-game pro set within each match. Men and women play doubles. When finished, one man and one woman go straight into singles, and the other players are up next. It’s the best three out of five pro sets. Whoever wins moves onto the next round.
“We’ve kept it the same format because it seems to be that people end up really liking it because it’s something different,” Thayer said.
Play begins Feb. 3 and continues through Feb. 5, but first, a party.
The players party is being held the night before and is included in the $50 entry fee. Non-playing guests can attend for $25. The party is at the Tennis Center and is catered by Harry’s Continental Kitchens.
The public is invited to the party and tournament. While a few players travel over the bridge from Bird Key and Sarasota to attend, most of the players live on Longboat.
“It’s kind of neat because everybody comes and watches their friends, and everybody knows each other,” Thayer said. “So most of the people really enjoy coming out and even watching it. It’s a good community tournament.”
For information, call 316-8367.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Kay Thayer's name.