Tennis night in Fort Smith brings out the 80s

story and photos by Ruby Dean
rdean@thecitywire.com

Oh WATA Night was totally gnarly.

The 10th annual event benefiting the Western Arkansas Tennis Association was held Saturday (Jan. 26) at Immaculate Conception Parish Hall. The evening featured dinner, live and silent auctions, and music by Red Ambition.

This year's theme was "It's 80's Night." Guests were encouraged to come dressed in their best 1980's outfit. Most were not afraid to dig deep into their closets to pull out their 80's memorabilia and see what still fit. 

The guests were welcomed with a cocktail hour beginning at 6:30 p.m. With a tennis themed silent auction, patrons had more than 100 items to bid on. Items included such things Maria Sharapova's autographed dress and shoes.

"This event raises money to operate Creekmore tennis center and the bulk of WATA's funding for the entire year," said WATA chair Cindy Koenigseder. "It is a good facility for the community and for public use. We hold junior and adult tournaments. This event is a great social event to get tennis people together."

WATA, in its 16th year, operates tennis programs for students, adults and seniors. It supports tennis leagues in Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Sebastian and Scott counties and serves 500 people a week.

Last year's event raised $16,000 with hopes this year to raise $20,000. With six items up for live auction and over 100 items in the silent auction, hopes were high that their goal would be met. Attendance was expected to be over 200. Dinner was catered by Ambiance Catering. This was their seventh year to cater the annual event.

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Red Ambition took to the stage at 8:30 p.m. performing top hits of the 80's and partygoers hit the dance floor. At 9:30 the silent auction ended and the best dressed competition began. Also featured was a 50/50 drawing. Live auction items included "Fun in the Sun" – a vacation in sunny Orlando, Fla., which included a seven-night stay for six people at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek resort.

Another big item was "Tennis with the President” – not the United States President, but the United States Tennis Association president. The USTA donated to WATA two box seats to the 2013 US Open and they were up for bid. The item featured a one day session in the President's Suite on the Club Level of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Access is by invitation only. The pass also included lunch in the President's Dining Room, seats in the USTA President's courtside box, hospitality during the session, and access to courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstands and all other courts.

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