Sarasota Open looks to continue building on its success

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SARASOTA, Fla. - With the tennis season under way, the Sarasota Open is gearing up for its 7th season. This year more will be happening on the fringe, but the tennis is always the big draw.

The tennis has gotten better and better at the Sarasota Open each year, and fans have been noticing, and coming out.

And more players are coming out to play. "We're a great place on the calendar. I think 80% of our players were main draw French Open. About 90% U.S. Open main draw. We have the top players in the world here. It’s amazing for the local atmosphere to be able to enjoy that," says tournament director Tony Driscoll.

The tie-in with one of the Grand Slam events is huge for the popularity amongst players, which in turn is great for the fan’s enjoyment. “The winner of this tournament most likely gets a wildcard into the main draw into the French Open. We have a reciprocal agreement with the French Federation. So, we are always going to get the top Americans to come," says Driscoll.

Tennis, as always, is the hook to get you there; but Driscoll plans on keeping you out at the Longboat Key Club with other events during the tournament. “We are always trying to make it more of an event for the community. We are having the Paragon Arts Festival on finals weekend. On the north side of the stadium we are having the ultimate V.I.P. experience to really escalate the level of the tournament. We will have bands in between the day and night session, every single night."

Also, there will be a preview tennis tournament to honor the late Joey Gratton and his foundation.

Joey was a huge tennis enthusiast. "The winner of the doubles, and we will have every level of doubles there, which benefits the charity, The Joey Gratton Foundation. But the winner of the open doubles will get a qualifying bid into the tour doubles as well. So, it's a great chance for a local doubles team to see world class tennis."