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Knowles looking orward to 11th annual invitational

Preparation for the 11th Annual Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational is well underway. The event, which is less than two weeks from now, will welcome top tennis players from around the world to The Bahamas.

Among the high profile players attending the charity event are Andy Roddick, Xavier Malisse, Sabine Lisicki, Vania King and Jesse Levine. The four-day invitational will swing into action on December 1, at the Atlantis Resort. Bahamian tennis touring pro Mark Knowles is the host.

“I think this is an awesome field that we have,” said Knowles. “It is huge news to have someone with the star power of Andy Roddick. We had a great event last year and we continue to build each year. We try to add little intricacies each year to make it more fun not only for the fans, but for the sponsors and the players as well. I think it is going to be a fantastic event.”

One lucky fan, attending the celebrity event, will get a chance to play with Roddick and other guests in the Pro Am doubles, on the Friday of the invitational. Other activities planned are a cocktail party that Thursday, dinner and exhibition games. The dinner is Friday evening and the games are on Saturday. All proceeds from the invitational will be given to locally based charities. According to Knowles, the collected funds are shared with about four or five organizations every year.

A scholarship will also be awarded to the top junior player in the country, during the four-day invitational. One of the most recent activities launched by Knowles is an Outreach Family Island program. Knowles who has a 17-20 win/loss record, believes the program will assist with the training and development of interested players outside of New Providence and Grand Bahama.

Knowles is the sole Bahamian playing on the professional level. He is ranked 58th this year after a see-saw season. In 2002, he and his partner Daniel Nestor were the number one ranked doubles team in the world.

Knowles said: “It was a tough season, not the best season that I have had. I had some ups and downs, but the good news is, I was fairly healthy for most of the year. My partner, Michael Mertinak, got injured halfway through the year. We seem to be building up some momentum, playing fairly well. He went down at the French Open, and from then on I had to piece together some partners. I was able to get a little bit of success with Xavier, winning in Los Angeles.

“It was a little bit disappointing since I did not have the type of year that I am used to having. I don’t think we will play together next year. He (Mertinak) has just returned from injuries so unfortunately his ranking has really dropped, and he is trying to get healthy. I have a couple of options that I am considering for next year. We will see, or kind of figure out the best situation and who I can have the best results with.”

The last tournament Knowles played in was the BNP Paribas Masters with Xavier Malisse. The duo fell in the first round to Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut.

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