The Legends Tennis Championship consistently helps Cayman’s efforts to produce the next star on the court.
It is no different for 2012 as the tournament will donate thousands of dollars to youth players in the Cayman Islands. Event director Dan Kneipp states local talent is at the centre of the event.
“There will be a $15,000 equipment donation from Dunlop to the Cayman Islands Tennis Federation Junior Programme,” Kneipp said. “In addition, 1,500 children from local schools are participating in workshops run by the pros during the event and there are free viewing sessions for juniors.”
The Courts at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, will host Legends this week from Tuesday, 30 October, to Saturday, 3 November. The tournament figures to boost local tennis as Cayman players, like Alex Leonard, will take centre stage throughout.
Kneipp states residents should take advantage of the free viewing available at 6pm on the tournament’s first night.
“The final amateur playoff will be held on the first night of Legends Tennis on Tuesday. This night will have free viewing and we encourage the Cayman sporting community to come out and support it.”
Local players will also get added inspiration with the presence of the world’s top Under-14 junior female player in American Ali “Tornado” Black. Event founder Michael Ryan says the competition will benefit from Black’s participation.
“Ali is an extremely exciting addition to this year’s tennis tournament,” Ryan said. “Cayman’s juniors will get a chance to literally watch the best junior in the world.
“We continually work to ensure Legends Tennis is a great asset to the Cayman community. For years, our charity has been the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre and we’re passionate about the amount of support and funding that we’ve been able to give.
“We also focus on working with the tennis federation and that has included donating tennis equipment to their programme and also offering free tennis matches for the schools to watch. On Wednesday, 31 October, we’ll have free viewing where over 1,500 Cayman juniors will get to watch the tournament for free.”
Indeed, the crisis centre is the other big winner for the Legends event. A raffle with more than $15,000 worth of jewellery and prizes will be on offer, with proceeds going to the crisis centre.
According to crisis centre executive director Ania Milanowska-Sedgley, money received from the Legends tournament will fund the daily operations of the organisation. Among the areas that will benefit are the emergency shelter, aftercare and outreach programmes.
Kneipp states the goal is to propel the crisis centre forward with added funding.
“We have over $17,000 worth prizes to be won with 100 per cent of profits from the raffle tickets going to the crisis centre. We hope to be able to donate over $15,000 worth of benefits to this crucial charity.”
No Legends tournament is complete without international celebrities and this year offers more than the norm. Sir Richard Branson, the business tycoon, and Greg Norman, a golf legend on and off the links, will be here. The duo will go head-to-head in the celebrity doubles segment, with Michael Ryan and former tennis greats Jimmy Arias, Stefan Edberg and Martina Hingis in the mix.
During the past 11 years, Legends has attracted some of the greatest tennis players in history. For 2012, there will be six former top-10 world-ranked players, including two former world No.1 players.
Edberg and Hingis have, between them, won 23 singles and doubles grand slam titles. Former world No. 4 Iva Majoli from Croatia will make her debut in Cayman. Majoli caused one of the greatest upsets when she beat Hingis in the 1997 French Open final.
This year’s lineup will also include crowd favourites Murphy Jensen and Arias (both are French Open doubles champions) and Wayne Ferreira. Among the competition categories are men’s singles, mixed doubles, celebrity doubles and a women’s singles exhibition.
Kneipp states most of those greats insisted on a return this year.
“Most of our Legends players are players that have been to Cayman before and request to play again. The players love coming to Cayman and participating in the Legends Tennis and a lot of them describe it as one of their favourite tournaments and favourite destinations.
“Legends Tennis provides spectators with an intimate tournament environment that is unique to this venue. With seating for 1,000 spectators, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.”
Ticket prices start at $25 and can be purchased through Cayman Box Office. Stadium seating allows for up to 1,100 spectators each night. Free viewing is available for schools and the public on Tuesday night and at noon on Wednesday when the Cayman players are in action.
Schools may coordinate a free viewing session for the tournament by contacting the tennis federation at [email protected] For schedule and tickets, visit caycompass.com/tennis or e-mail [email protected]