The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will host an Outback Champion’s Series tennis tournament in April featuring some of the greatest over-30 tennis legends, including John McEnroe and Jim Courier.
‘It’s really the senior’s tour in tennis,’ said Ritz-Carlton developer Michael Ryan. ‘But unlike the senior’s tour in golf, you can’t get on the legend’s tour without being a legend.’
To qualify for the legend’s tour, a player generally has to have reached a Grand Slam tennis final; been ranked as one of the top five players in the world; or played singles on his country’s Davis Cup team. Mr. Ryan said each event has the right to choose a wild card entrant as well.
Cayman becomes only the seventh stop on the tour, which also includes Naples, Florida, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Newport and Dubai.
‘The tour probably won’t grow much larger,’ Mr. Ryan said, noting that the older players don’t want to be on the road as much as they were earlier in their careers.
Mr. Ryan said the idea is for tournament to be an annual event on Grand Cayman.
‘It’s a real tournament,’ he said. ‘They play for money. They’re also having fun, but they play their best. They’re not just coming here for a hit and giggle with the local guys.’
The Legends Championship events feature $150,000 in prize money, with an undefeated winner earning $54,000. Players also compete for series points, with the year-end leader winning a $100,000 bonus.
In addition to Courier and McEnroe, who has just confirmed his participation, other players already confirmed to come to Cayman for the event include Jimmy Arias and Wayne Ferriera.
The five-day tournament, which takes place 16-20 April, features eight players, which will be split into two groups. Each group plays a round robin inside their group and then there are semi-finals and finals.
The tournament is open to the public, and a variety of ticket options will be available.
To accommodate the expected crowd, a temporary grandstand will be built around the centre court of the Ritz-Carlton tennis facility, Mr. Ryan said.
A variety of television networks around the world carry the Legends tournaments, including ESPN.
‘This is a full-blown media event,’ Mr. Ryan said. ‘That dovetails into one of the more important aspects of the story.
‘This event is another step we are taking to get the Cayman Islands exposure,’ he said. ‘People have to understand Cayman is a world-class destination. This is a tangible way to get Cayman out there.’
Mr. Ryan said hosting the event was expensive.
‘This costs a lot of money and it’s a big risk for us. Hopefully we can get the support of the community.’
In addition to the tournament, the tour also features a tennis clinic for adults and children at the Tennis Club.