The tennis tournament hosts the event so players can see their matchups for the weekend.
To get a friendly competition going, you first must tend to the "friendly" part. That's what the organizers of the Observer Challenge aimed to do at the tournament's annual opening cocktail party on Jan. 6 at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.
Attendees wandered the grounds of the tennis center, catching up with friends and meeting new ones over drinks and snacks. The biggest purpose of the party was for players to find out when they'd be playing over the weekend. Each of this year's three divisions ends on Jan. 9.
Partway through the party, tennis center director Kay Thayer welcomed attendees to the weekend ahead and explained the format of the tournament. Each division starts with doubles, then moves into men's and women's singles and mixed doubles, so teams have to think strategically about who's strongest where. The group playing in the tournament this year is smaller than most, but Thayer thanked all the players for coming out.
"This has always been a popular tournament," Thayer said. "It's maybe our toughest but our most fun."
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