World class tennis stars once again clamoured to the Ritz-Carlton court over the weekend for the Cayman Classic Charity tournament.
The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre was once again the sole beneficiary for the sixth year.
Thrilling tennis action and lots of fun was promised from the likes of Jimmy Arias, Johan Kriek, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Ellis Ferreira, Jay Berger, Michael Pernfors and Aaron Krickstein.
They teamed up with local amateurs with the Cayman Crisis Centre emerging as the clear winner.
Ritz-Carlton developer Michael Ryan and his partners are, perhaps, some of the most ardent and active supporters of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.
He said: ‘I believe it is essential that we have a professional organisation and safe place in our community for women and children in crisis.
‘The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre is filling a critical need and we are constantly looking for ways to support it.
‘My commitment to supporting the centre is matched only, perhaps, by my passion for tennis. I truly believe there is no worthier cause.’
For the kids there was a bouncy castle, snow cones and face painting.
The eventual champions were Krickstein and Keith Boheim with the runners up being Kriek and Erik Burgdorf.
Third place went to Berger and Sue Burgdorf.
Len Layman, chairman of the Crisis Centre, was pleased with the $50,000 cheque Ryan handed over. Last year it was over $70,000 but the event had a higher profile and was not done in conjunction with the Cayman Cookout like this time.
Layman said: ‘I think that everybody’s facing tougher times this year but that doesn’t in any way negate the need and I just think that it’s spectacular that the Ritz-Carlton has once again stepped up to the plate.
‘Michael Ryan and his group has once again gone out of his way to help out the Crisis Centre.
‘For all that they do for us, they should be an example for other corporations and businesses on the island to be good corporate citizens. The Crisis Centre is just so thankful for their support.’
Layman is appreciative of this donation because the centre’s budget is around $450,000 but the government only provides about $300,000.
‘The rest we have to raise through the community,’ he said. ‘We spend the majority of our efforts trying to raise funds and things such as this come a long way towards helping us. The Ritz has been here for us year in, year out and we greatly appreciate their support.’
Ryan said: ‘This is really something we love to do and it makes us feel we’re giving a little something back about something we really care about.
‘In the community it’s a real issue which needs addressing and we’re really glad that we can raise awareness in a substantial way so that they can meet their budgets and concentrate on their needs to get things done and not focusing on raising money.
‘With the Cookout going on at the same weekend we thought it we would make it more about having fun. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and had a great time and we still raised a lot of money for them.
‘We’ve actually already done about 30 grand for them this year and our goal for the whole year is to get over 100 grand so we’ll go on until we get it.’
Ritz-Carlton tennis pro Thomas Neuert thoroughly enjoyed it too.
He said: ‘Yesterday was kind of tough because of the hurricane level winds we had but it didn’t rain and we had a great turnout. I think everybody loved it and we had a nice VIP tent.
‘The competition was very good. It always gets a bit tougher on the second day as everybody is moving on to the quarter-finals, semis and finals. It was fantastic to have 12 pros come out and the exhibition from the Jensen brothers.
‘We’re already looking forward to next year’s Cayman Classic, probably the second or third weekend in January with the Cookout.
‘Now we’re looking forward to the Legends tournament, April 24-26. That’s going to be a huge event. Right now confirmed we have Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis, Michael Chang, Jim Courier and Jimmy Arias, plus one other.