Fab four want to bounce back

Tennis fans who witnessed the championship game of the 2014 PwC Cayman Men’s Invitational Championships are still talking about the high standard of play displayed in the final matches. 

The final night had a substantial crowd watching what spectators and organizers said was the most competitive singles match between the best two pros that Cayman has ever seen.  

The tournament at the Cayman Islands Tennis Club in South Sound attracted sizeable crowds throughout the weeklong event, and tournament director Rob Seward sees the event becoming more popular, attracting bigger names and boosting sports tourism in the process.  

Robert Kendrick, once No. 69 on the Association of Tennis Professionals tour, won the tournament against fellow American Denis Zivkovic, who was once No. 296 ATP ranked and last year’s runner-up. Kendrick won 6-2, 6-4 against his fellow American.  

Seward said, “Thank you, to all of you, that came out to watch and pay your respects to two great players.  

“The final match went quickly, but it was very exciting for more than 200 spectators that showed up. It boasted the most competitive tennis ever seen here.” 

Seward is pleased that the semifinals generated exciting matches too from two other world-class players who have held rankings in the top 400.  

Italians Stefano Ianni and Adriano Biasella rounded off the fab four. Ianni lost to Zivkovic while Biasella went out to Kendrick. Ianni made his third appearance at this tournament, losing in a tough three-set match to his doubles partner. 

Last year’s doubles champions Zivkovic and Ianni beat Kendrick and Biasella in three sets in the final. 

“It was a very exciting match and was the most competitive doubles we have seen in Cayman,” Seward said.  

“The event proved to be fantastic for sports tourism and all said that they would love to make it down again for next year’s tournament.” 

Seward thanked PwC for their continued sponsorship and added, “It is a great partnership that PwC has with the club because they are supporting the game we all love, supporting tennis on the island and making this great event a regional attraction.”  

He also thanked other sponsors, volunteers and supporters. 

Ianni and Zivkovic have come down before, but Kendrick and Biasella were new to Cayman and like many before them, fell in love with the place.  

“All of them were very happy with the tournament and the increase in sponsors’ money,” Seward said. “They were asking if it would be possible to get more money for next year’s event and maybe there would be about eight fantastic players coming.  

“They are happy here because they don’t play until the evening so they get to do the tourist things like boating, beaching and then they go out for dinner every night. They were on a bit of a budget so that is why we offer them housing.” 

Seward believes sports tourism benefited from the PwC Open tournament a week earlier as well. He reckons that about 40 people arrived for the two events, including 35 Canadians who stayed at the Villas of the Galleon for the week. They rented three vans, all paid airfare from Toronto and went out every evening to restaurants and bars.  

“They also did a Stingray City trip, so I would like to think that they brought in tens of thousands to the island with everything that they have done.”  

Seward also believes the other benefits include them wanting to return, and since they all came without their significant others, maybe they will bring them the next time.  

“A lot of them would like to bring family down and make more of a vacation of it.  

“Also, the fab four look at it as a possible place to train or even do more clinics in the future.” 

Consensus among local fans and kids alike is that this was the highest level ever played. The visitors held a couple of clinics during the club’s after-school program. They would also like to do weekend clinics here next time. 

“To make the event better, I would like to see at least eight players that have held rankings in the top 400 ATP. I think it is possible. We have been very thankful to our sponsors in the past, PwC and Cayman National. And it was because of Mourant Ozannes that we were able to get the better players this time because we were able to increase the prize money.”  

Seward added that he likes to see the kids get excited about it because then they are inspired, which will motivate them to stay in tennis and achieve championship pro level.  

Stefano-Ianni-S

Stefano Ianni is a regular here now.

Denis-Zivkovic-S

Denis Zivkovic showed flashes of brilliance.

Robert-Kendrick-S

Robert Kendrick won the tournament comfortably. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

Satendra Choubey

Adriano Biasella fell in love with Cayman.