Locals can play with legends

Cayman’s best local tennis players, from juniors to pros, will compete on Saturday for a chance to play with and against some of the world’s best tennis players of all time. 

Grand Slam tournament winners Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Mark Philippoussis, Wayne Ferreira, Chanda Rubin, Jimmy Arias, Stephen Huss and Murphy Jensen will converge in Grand Cayman for the 2011 KPMG Legends Tennis Championships from 16-19 November. 

At the Cayman Islands Tennis Club in South Sound, the Islands’ best players will have a chance to compete to win a coveted spot in the highly-anticipated annual tournament tomorrow.  

First up will be the KPMG Junior Legends tournament, which is open to all junior tennis players. There are three age groups in the junior competition: age 11 and under, age 14 and under, and age 18 and under. The last two players in each age group will get to play during the KPMG Legends Tennis Championships as the opening match of each evening of the tournament. It runs from 8-11am. Registration for the junior competition is $10 and all registration proceeds go directly to the Cayman Islands Tennis Club. To register for the KPMG Junior Legends competition, email [email protected] by noon on Friday 21 October.  

Next on the full day’s schedule at the tennis club are the Amateur Legends play-offs. This competition is open to any adult male or female amateur tennis player resident in the Cayman Islands. The last two players standing in the amateur competition will play in the KPMG Legends Tennis Championships with the unprecedented opportunity to partner with one of the professional celebrity players competing in the tournament.  

The Amateur Legends play-offs are from 12-3pm. Registration for this tournament is $25 with all registration proceeds going directly to the Cayman Islands Tennis Club.  

Finally it will be the Legends Pro Playoffs from 4-7pm. As part of the KPMG Legends Tennis Championships this year, there are slots open for local pros as ‘Cayman Wildcard’ entries. Thus far, Island Games gold medallist Panav Jha has a wildcard spot in the singles competition – potentially playing against Jimmy Arias or Wayne Ferreira.  

Cayman Islands Tennis Federation president David Berry is a wildcard entry in the doubles competition, as is The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s tennis pro Thomas Neuert. This line-up leaves one remaining wild card slot open for a Cayman tennis pro. Matches to determine who wins this coveted spot will be played on Saturday, where the club’s own pro Rob Seward is a favourite to win.  

The inclusion of local junior, amateur and pro players in the KPMG Legends Tennis Championships is an effort on the part of organisers to make the event one that engages more of the local community.  

“An important part of the 2011 KPMG Legends Tennis Championships is to ensure that Cayman’s best juniors, amateurs and pros get a chance to play alongside and on the court with some of the world’s greatest tennis players,” said tournament host Mike Ryan of The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.  

In further support for the development of local tennis, the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands’ Junior Tennis programme will be a recipient charity of the non-profit event’s proceeds along with the tournament’s longstanding charity – the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre which offers assistance to victims of domestic abuse. Last year the 2010 Legends Championships raised over $63,000 to benefit the Centre’s programs.  

Tennis federation secretary Geraldine Duckworth said: “We’re delighted to be involved with this year’s event. Our board members have already started assisting with the arrangements and recruiting volunteers to help out. It is wonderful that we will be able to share in the benefits too, namely funds to help with our tennis development programmes. Some of our juniors will play in the event and many other young players will be able to watch.” 

In addition to over $12,000 worth of tennis equipment being donated to the tennis federation’s government school programme, local junior players will be in the competitive spotlight for the tournament.  

“For the junior players to be able to play in front of all-time greats such as Hingis, Capriati and Philippousis will be a great boost and inspiration to them, and hopefully encourage them to go further in the sport,” said event organiser Dan Kneipp.  

To make the event more inclusive and accessible, organisers have also expanded the seating and reduced match ticket prices. Over 5,500 tickets for the event will be offered, with prices starting at $5. A three-day pass to attend each night of play will cost $45. VIP packages are also available, as is participation in the fund-raising Pro Am portion of the tournament. For Cayman schools there are two free tennis viewing matches with over 2,000 free tickets to encourage as many Cayman schools and juniors to come and watch the pro athletes.  

The 2011 KPMG Legends Tennis Championships will begin with the gala dinner featuring former British PM Tony Blair on Wednesday 16 November followed by the First Round matches on Thursday 17 November, the semi-finals on Friday 18 November and the finals on Saturday 19 November followed by the festive Whites Party at The Ritz-Carlton. All matches will be played at The Courts at The Ritz-Carlton.  

For more information on the Legends Championships 2011 or to reserve tickets, visit www.compasscayman.com/tennis  

 

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