Doha 2017: Day-1. Player’s Gala Dinner

The Doha Player’s Gala Dinner returned to the Four Seasons for 2017. It was a fun, loose gathering of sponsors, diplomats, players and distinguished guests. Attendance was lighter than in years past, mostly due to the fact that many of those who played Fed Cup over the weekend had just arrived or were still waiting it out in customs.

That didn’t keep our talented group of mentalists from messing with the likes of Angelique Kerber, Dominika Cibulkova and Sascha Bajin – long-time hitting partner for Serena Williams.

Welcome. The Qatar Total Open Player’s Dinner Gala

The night began with a welcome and my quick take on the WTA Tour right now:

“Like last year, it has been an insanely competitive start to the year on the WTA Tour. Through our first eight events, we have eight different champions and eight unique finalists…while doubles has a new World #1 and new teams achieving impressive results. Every week is perfectly unpredictable – which is beyond exciting for fans like myself, and why the WTA is the most entertaining tour to follow in tennis right now.”

Secretary General of the QTF Tariq Darwish Zainal and the Managing Director of Total Qatar Guillaume Chalman offered their opening remarks, then we dug into the night’s plated meal.

Mind blowing entertainment

During dinner, Britain’s Got Talent winner Richard Jones blew everyone away with his mind-reading and original slight of hand. One of the most unique performers I’ve seen in quite some time, Richardo, demonstrated an uncanny ability to balance absolutely anything and everything. At one point he was balancing a complete glassware set on top of a balloon, on top of a violin’s bow that he held in his teeth. Next thing you know, the dude grabbed a violin and started playing the thing by moving it back and forth across the bow. Original.

The Evasons. Jeff and Tessa are married mentalists from Canada

Jeff and Tessa Evason were our final performers. Tessa was reading minds and “connecting” with anyone and everyone, able to address complete strangers by name and dig into their minds. At one point, they invited Sascha Bajin on stage and told him to write a number on a whiteboard. Without seeing Sascha’s number, Tessa then started scribbling numbers into a grid on another whiteboard. When Tessa revealed her board, they asked if any of those were Sascha’s…none of them matched. However, if you started adding every individual column, row, any four linked squares of numbers – each combination actually added-up to the number Sascha chose. Pretty remarkable.

As always, we concluded the party with trivia, awarding three lucky fans with iPhone 6S’s courtesy of the Qatar Tennis Federation. Can you name the youngest player ever to win the Qatar Total Open? Here are your options: Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova or Martina Hingis. At the party, it took two incorrect answers to finally get a winner…

It’s Sharapova, genius. She was 18 when she won the title in 2005.