EDWARDSVILLE – One of the most popular community events at the USTA Pro Circuit Edwardsville Futures tennis tournament took place Wednesday night at Sunset Hills Country Club – and this year’s event included a new feature.

The annual VIP Player’s Party, which gives players and officials a chance to mingle and socialize with each other and with host families and others in the community in an informal atmosphere, included a fashion show with tournament staffers, players and even participants in the Tiger Tennis Camps program getting a chance to model athletic apparel from local retailers, including First to the Finish, Forever Tennis and BJ’s Printables.

“It was the first time we’ve done this (the fashion show),” said tournament director Dave Lipe. “We wanted to do something different to reach a different population and get people’s attention in a different way; we made it a little less formal and a lot more fun.

“We had 15 eager models tonight that had some fun wearing (the apparel) out there; we had kids and adults (taking part) and little kids pretending to be models – something that none of us actually are,” Lipe said with a laugh. “We had a great time pretending to be something we’re not – it was fun.”

The party certainly was a great way to relax and get away from the grind of the tournament. “Overall, it was a fun night and something we’re going to build on,” Lipe said. “We had some fun being in the same room together and have a laugh, have a drink but more importantly, have fun.”

First to the Finish’s Austin Viano provided outfits for several of the models on the evening; it was a great way to be involved with the tournament and the community, he felt. “We provided a few outfits for six or seven different athletes and people involved in the tournament,” Viano said, “in different tights and shoes and all kinds of stuff for people to see. It was a lot of fun.

“We’ve done a lot of things and we’ve been involved with (Edwardsville High) and this was one new thing; we’ve never done anything like this. We don’t sell tennis shoes or anything like that, but I met Dave a few months ago and he invited us to be involved, which was really nice; it’s a good way for us to do something extra to help get our name out there.”

Two of the models on the evening were Tiger Tennis Campers of the Year, Riley Farris and Schaefer Bates; Riley wowed the audience with a dance while she was modeling her outfit. “I liked the variety of our models,” Lipe said. “Riley Farris won the Model of the Show; The Goodard School sponsored a $50 cash prize for the model who (did the best job on the night).

“(Riley and Schaefer) did a great job representing Tiger Tennis Camps – two great kids who had a terrific summer.”

Feeney, 56, is a native of Granite City and graduated from Granite City South in 1978. He was a part-time writer for the old Granite City Journal from 1979-84 before attending Eastern Illinois University in Charleston,
from which he earned his BA in journalism in 1988. He has worked for newspapers in Sikeston, Mo., Rocky Mount, N.C., Seneca, S.C. and in Charleston-Mattoon. He also worked for the old St. Clair County Suburban
Journals.

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