Tennis pros happy to give back

The rain and wind came and tried to dampened the efforts by several current and former professional tennis players, but they were able to leave their mark at the first Baha Mar Cup, a charity event that was done to raise funds towards Hurricane Dorian relief efforts. It was held from Saturday, November 8-10 at the Baha Mar Racquet Club.

The event was led by Bahamian tennis legend and former professional tennis player Mark Knowles. He was joined by Americans Cori “Coco” Gauff, James Blake, Bob Ryan and Andy Roddick; German Tommy Haas and Spain’s Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

“Overall it was a terrific day. We had a great start to the day. We had so many kids, about 60-70 kids. We had all of the pros out here, a great opportunity for the kids. Some of these kids are the same age as “Coco” Gauff and she is a special young lady. She spent so much time with all of the kids. I think any time you get the chance to expose the next generation to those types of players that’s a tremendous impact,” Knowles said.

They were able to get a little exhibition going with the pros despite the inclement weather from mid-morning.

At a press conference on Saturday morning at Baha Mar Racquet Club, Gauff, who is from South Florida said she want to be remembered by how much people she can help.

“When I was younger, my father told me that I can change the world with my racquet. I love tennis and I’d like to use that as a platform to help people because at the end of the day we are all going to die and I don’t want to be remembered by how many tournaments I won. I want to be remembered by how many people I can touch and how many people I can inspire,”

One of the highlights of the weekend was the kids’ clinic, where the pros provided instructions for the kids.

“They wanted to take my head off today. I had a lot of reflex volleys and running today. I haven’t worked out for a couple of days. It is a good start to my preseason.”

Sanchez-Vicario said that it was great to see the passion from the kids and how much they wanted to score a point and added that she had a lot of fun.

Knowles sees a lot of young talent in The Bahamas.

“We have a lot of young kids so I am happy that you guys [pro players] got to see some of the youngsters today. I have been running a junior program for a couple of years. We always had the talent… For us there is no transition from junior to collegiate tennis,” Knowles said.

Ryan was in agreement with Knowles and said that the talent level of the juniors in The Bahamas is extraordinary. He was in The Bahamas 20 years ago and feels that players now are almost twice as good.

There was an auction on Friday, November 8 but Knowles was not able to attend until close to the end of it, due to feeling under the weather. He said it went well with Roddick filling in for him.

Knowles was happy with the turnout on the weekend. He is hoping that the event can be held again next year. This not anything new for Knowles, having put on his own charity event for 13 years.

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