29 July 2018

 The 2018 Citi Open Tournament week kicked off with a special 50th Celebration Party and the Official Citi Open Draw Ceremony. The tournament’s player lounge transformed into an exquisite reception space and was packed throughout the evening.

The evening started with the Official Citi Open Draw Ceremony, hosted by emcees Michael Akin and legendary tournament announcer Charlie Brotman. In addition to the live draw to determine order of play for the week, DC Deputy Mayors Brian Kenner, and Hyesook Chung brought greetings on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd presented a Council Resolution to mark this milestone year.

Tennis Channel broadcaster Brett Haber then hosted a very special 50th Celebration which featured interviews with tournament founders Donald Dell and John Harris, who shared the story of how Arthur Ashe was involved in the tournament’s founding, as well on-stage reflections from Jimmy Connors, Brian Gottfried, and the world champion 1968-69 U.S. Davis Cup team (Bob Lutz, Charlie Pasarell, Dennis Ralston and Stan Smith).

In honor of Harris’ contributions to the founding of the event, tournament director Keely O’Brien presented signage that would forever name Grandstand 1 the “John A. Harris Grandstand.” For Dell, who has continued to be an integral part of the tournament since he co-founded it in 1969, O’Brien unveiled the new Donald Dell Trophy for the tournament champions, a miniature version of John Safer’s “Serve” sculpture that stands at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center courtyard.

The evening’s events featured an extravagant spread of food and drink from local eateries. Guests enjoyed bacon-wrapped lollies from Founding Farmers; filet mignon spears from Ruth’s Chris; sweet hush puppies and tuna bites from Ward 4 restaurant Little Coco’s; sweet and savory goodies from Trade Center Management Associates (TCMA); and cake pops from Baked By Yael. Bubly provided sparkling seltzer, Banfi Wines distributed glasses of red and white, and Founding Distillers poured their creative cocktail, the Farmer Jon.

MGM National Harbor set up a mini-casino on site with roulette and black jack, and DJ Ri5e was spinning tunes for attendees to dance the evening away.

The evening ended on stadium court, where guests raised their glasses to toast 50 years of professional tennis in the District while a spectacular firework display lit up the clear Washington sky.

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