Legends love Cayman experience

Martina Hingis had never played in the Caribbean prior to lacing up in the Cayman Islands.

The former world number one enjoyed a tropical backdrop last week for the first time by taking part in the 2011 KPMG Legends tennis tournament. The Swiss international not only participated but walked away with silverware as she claimed the mixed doubles crown with Mark Philippousis. The duo downed Chanda Rubin and Murphy Jensen 8-5 in the finals on Saturday night.

Hingis, 31, states she hopes to be back for the 2012 edition.

“This is my first trip to the Caribbean and Cayman,” Hingis said. “I’m not sure who’s taking the trophy home. I hope to defend it with Mark next year. I hope to get invited to it next year. It was a fantastic trip and there are some great fans here. Thanks to everyone involved. I’m hoping to really be back next year.”

Philippousis is no stranger to Cayman, having competed in past Legends events with the likes of Jim Courier. The Aussie, who turned 35 earlier this month, states playing in Cayman is like being at home.

“It is a home away from home,” Philippousis said. “It’s a fun tournament with incredible atmosphere. The hospitality here is great, the beaches and water are amazing and it’s just a beautiful place. Unfortunately it’s back to reality on Sunday.”

Rubin and Jensen were an entertaining duo on Saturday, making jokes throughout the match. Both offered some interesting feedback about the tournament after their defeat.

“This is my first time here and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Rubin, 35, who hails from Louisiana. “There are some great people here. As for the loss, I blame it on Jensen.”

“I loved the tournament, I’m speechless,” said Jensen, 43, who is from Michigan. “I got invited to play here back in 1995 and there were only a handful of people then. Now we had a packed house night after night. That just tells you how rich Cayman is, with tennis. This is one of the best weeks of my life and I hope to come back.”

Hingis and Philippousis were among a number of major names here including Jennifer Capriati and Jimmy Arias. By the end of the tournament most were singing Cayman’s praises. Among them is Wayne Ferreira, 40, who emerged the singles division champion on his third trip here for the Legends event.

Ferreira, who hails from South Africa, states Cayman is a special place for him.

“This is my third time here and it’s great,” Ferreira said. “I’ve seen everything including the dolphins and the stingrays. I’ve done as much as I can and the place is lovely. Over the years the tournament has been fantastic. The spectators were sensational and everyone comes to compete.

“I play tennis as much as I can because it’s a wonderful experience. I still play competitively to be with my friends. I’m going back home now and there are no more competitions this year. I’ll vacation with my family before going to the Australian Open at the end of January.”

Ferreira earned his trophy this year by beating Thomas Blake in the final 8-7. The match came down to an exciting 12-point tiebreaker, which Ferreira won 7-1. Though Blake did not come out victorious, the American states he was pleased to be in Cayman also.

“This is my first time here and the Island is great,” Blake, 34, said. “There are not too many locales like this. It’s a beautiful place, everything about it is beautiful.

“I’m originally from New York and my home now is in Florida. I’m going home for Thanksgiving and then I’ll travel on the pro tour with my brother James Blake. He is not in the top 50 (in the world) right now but I’m hoping he works back into the elite.”

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