Local tennis is gearing up for a
major event to start the New Year. With international participants scheduled to
attend the sport is hoping to start 2011 on the island’s forefront.
The Cayman Islands Tennis Club is
hosting the 2011 PwC Cayman Islands Open Tennis tournament and the 2011 PwC
Men’s Invitational Championships. The events take place within weeks of each
other between 14 January and 5 February. The Open is up first and runs 14-21
January. That tournament is open to residents with competition split up into
men’s and women’s open divisions, including a mens 40 and over category.
The top qualifiers of the men’s
segment will then be invited to participate in the men’s invitational 1-6 February.
Among the international players slated to compete is last year’s champion Tony
Mule. The American claimed the 2010 singles championship by beating 2009 winner
and Puerto Rico’s Davis Cup team captain Juan Rios in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Rios was ranked as high number 261 on the ATP Tour and represented Puerto Rico
at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Mule ended up taking home US$3,000, the
largest purse for first place in the history of the Cayman Open.
Aside from Mule and Rios, last
year’s other visiting competitors included Richard Henry of Barbados and Davian
Burrell of Jamaica (both lost in the semi-finals).
Tennis club manager Rob Seward took
part in last year’s competition. He qualified for the men’s invitational and
lost in the quarter-finals along with the club’s assistant pro Dale Avery.
Seward states the collection of talent seen at the tournament is amazing.
“Last year turned out to be a truly
international affair with a total of 13 international participants coming from
Jamaica, Barbados, United States and Italy,” Seward said. “We had a very
exciting final and some 150 odd spectators were there to watch it in spite of
cold and rainy conditions. Plus we had the top local pros like Eduardo Torres
and Adam Bayley (an assistant pro at the tennis club) and long-time Caymanian
favourites Nigel Mitten and David Berry.
“This year we will field quite
possibly the largest amount of talent the Open has seen in past years. I’m
expecting it to be more exciting and competitive than last year.”
The return of the tournament is the
latest positive for tennis. Last year saw another successful staging of Legends
tournament at the Ritz-Carlton and the sport boosted its appeal by hosting a number
of clinics at local primary schools. Seward states the upcoming competitions
will also encompass the youth.
“At this point I’d like to say that
the tennis club expresses its deepest gratitude to PwC. This will be their
fifth year as main sponsor and without them it would have been impossible to
stage such a successful tournament. We are also very excited to have Scotia
Bank back for a second year sponsoring the junior clinic that will be at the
tennis club on 29 January. The clinic has some of the visiting pros coaching
our local junior and adult players.”