Paradise Island, Bahamas – The Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational – On December 3rd a Pro/Am event was held at the Atlantis Tennis Centre.
Pro/Am main draw winners were Jeff Everett of Everkey Global and Xavier Malisse, visiting pro from Belgium. Finalists were Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners and Bahamian pro and event host, Mark Knowles.
Consolation draw went to Aly Zaver of MDC Partners and pro Sabine Lisicki Finalists were David Porzio of MDC Partners and visiting pro Jesse Levine.
That evening the pros and sponsors enjoyed a dinner hosted by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism at Fathom’s restaurant in the Atlantis. The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture for the Bahamas was in attendance and gave remarks. Miles Nadal of MDC Partner, one of this year’s major sponsors of the event and who also hosted the evening’s Cocktail Party, said how pleased he was to be associated with such a great event for such worthy children’s charities.
This year brought Andy Murray, Xavier Malisse, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Olga Savchuk, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Sabine Lisicki, Robert ‘Bobby’ Reynolds, Amer Delic, Alex Kuznetsov, Jesse Levine, Ryan Sweeting, Brent Haygarth, Oliver Marach, Don Johnson, and of course Mark Knowles.
Sponsors include: Atlantis Resort & Casino, MDC-Partners, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch Private Bank & Trust; Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd; Serenity Point, Abaco; The Balmoral; The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism; American Airlines; Everkey Global Fund, Mark Holowesko, Odyssey Aviation, The Bahamas Weekly, and The Ministry of Youth Sports & Culture.
The next day Saturday, a fantastic afternoon of tennis was witnessed by some 300 spectators at the National Tennis Centre.
Events kicked off with a tennis clinic given by Mark Knowles and some of the pros to 30 junior players.
The Pros then went into Exhibition competition amongst themselves playing a World Team tennis format. Team Bahamas consisted of Mark Knowles, Andy Murray, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Sabine Lisicki, Ryan Sweeting, Jesse Levine and Alex Kuznetsov. Team Paradise Island was represented by Xavier Malisse, Bobby Reynolds, Oliver Marach, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Olga Savchuk, Don Johnson, Amer Delic, and Brent Haygarth.
The first match involved Sabine Lisicki playing against Bethanie Mattek-Sands which Bethanie won 5 games to 3. As this match finished, a roar went up from the crowd to greet the arrival of world #4, Andy Murray, who came directly from his British Airways flight from London to the Centre. While he changed into tennis attire, there was a very competitive Mixed Doubles with Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Ryan Sweeting taking on Don Johnson & Olga Savchuk with the latter team triumphing by 5 games to 1.
Then Mark Knowles and Andy Murray played Oliver Marach & Bobby Reynolds and won 5 games to 1. The grand finale had competition between Andy Murray versus Xavier Malisse, with Xavier edging out Andy by 5 games to 4. Xavier said that he wished he could always play Andy immediately after he gets off a 9 hour transatlantic flight!
The final score made Paradise Island team the winners by 16 games to 13 and the organizers presented gifts of Bahamian art to all the pro participants.
In all it was a marvelous experience for tennis fans and the event organizers expressed their great appreciation to all the pros for their participation with particular thanks to Andy Murray for his efforts to reach Nassau in time for the exhibition, despite the severe snowstorms in the U.K. which caused havoc with air, train and car transport.
Mark also thanked his volunteer staff and the various sponsors of the event for their continued support. Estimated figures of the amount raised for the children’s charities promise to exceed last year by a considerable amount.
The Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational is a Charity Event hosted by Mark. It was first held in 2001. The purpose of the event is to raise money for various charities, such as The Sassoon Pediatric Heart Foundation, The Cancer Society, The Association of the Physically Disabled, The Childrens Emergency Hospital, The Boy Scouts of Bahamas, The Special Olympics and scholarships for promising junior tennis players.