NASSAU, Bahamas (Dec. 8, 2011) – Former US Open men’s champion and world No. 14 Andy Roddick headlined a field of tennis stars at the 11th annual Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational that raised $150,000 for local charities this past weekend at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. The event, which entertained a record spectator crowd, has now eclipsed $800,000 in total donations.
Roddick was slated to participate in 2009 but was forced to withdraw due to injury. He was excited to make his debut appearance at the annual event. “It’s for a worthy cause, so I’m just glad to be here,” the American told The Bahamas Tribune.
“There’s a bigger cause to how well we play tennis this week. Most of us are in our off season, so it’s just fun. I had some in-laws and some friends come down too, so it’s been a great getaway for us. We had some fun too.”
The four day invitational ran from Dec. 1-4, and included a Welcome Cocktail Party hosted by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Atlantis Resort & Casino; a Pro-Am doubles tournament; a Welcome Dinner hosted by Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners; and the marquee showcase, the celebrity tennis exhibition. Operating under the World TeamTennis format, the spectacle featured ATP World Tour professionals Roddick, Amer Delic, Jesse Levine, Xavier Malisse and Nicholas Monroe – WTA players Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Vania King, Olga Savchuk and Yasmin Schnack – and the event co-founder, four-time Grand Slam doubles champion Mark Knowles.
A year after bringing fourth-ranked Andy Murray to the event, Knowles was thrilled when Roddick agreed to take part. “It was great to have Andy here. Not only is he one of the best players of his generation but he has established himself as someone who wants to make a difference off the court,” said Knowles.
“He is incredibly philanthropic and dedicated to improving other people’s lives. The Bahamas loved him and looks forward to welcoming him again soon!”
Knowles and Roddick have built a friendship in recent years, having teamed up to reach the China Open final in Beijing two years ago. They joined forces again at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open and Roddick invited the Bahamian to his September charity event in Austin, Texas. “He’s been nice to me from the day I came out as a young kid,” said Roddick. “Our friendship has gotten closer over the years and hopefully we can see him out there a little longer.”
The 40-year-old Knowles is coming off his 20th season on tour and captured his 54th career title with Malisse at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles in July. Malisse, ranked inside the Top 50 of both singles and doubles, was delighted to return. “I am a regular participant as I love coming to the Bahamas,” Malisse said. “I enjoy helping Mark out in the off-season as we get along great when we’re competing together in doubles.”
Knowles was recognized at the Welcome Dinner for his contributions; he was singled out as the largest single donor to the Bahamas Special Olympics, and The Sassoon Heart Foundation made special mention of the financial assistance that has helped save the lives of numerous children. “I was surprised to receive the award from Bahamas Special Olympics as being acknowledged as the individual who has contributed the most to them over the years,” expressed Knowles.
“But I have to thank my peers, as it wouldn’t be possible without their support. It is so gratifying that they take the time out to contribute their time to the event. It is not a very hard sell to get them to visit the Bahamas and the great resort of Atlantis Paradise Island though!”
Several organizations will benefit from 2011 proceeds. The recipients include The Bahamas Association For The Physically Disabled, Bahamas Environmental Steward Association, Bahamas Special Olympics, Blairwood Academy Disability Scholarships, The Chance Foundation, The Cancer Society For Pediatric Care, The Lyford Cay Foundation, The Sassoon Heart Foundation and The Scout Association Of The Bahamas. Scholarships will also be awarded to promising junior tennis players.
The Mark Knowles Management Group would like to thank all involved in making this a celebrated event and give their appreciation to players, sponsors, charities, friends and family, fans, and followers who have supported Knowles’ charitable endeavors since its inception in 2001.