Tourney serves up tennis, support for St. Jude

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (ALSAC)
Monday, 16 February 2004

It takes a lot of passion, hard work and talent to become one of the top tennis players in the world. And this week, those who have worked their way to the pinnacle of their game will help another group that is just as passionate, hard-working and talented: the staff and the families of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

At St. Jude, talent and effort are an everyday expectation as some of the top scientists and doctors in the world take on childhood catastrophic diseases. And they have been doing it for more than 40 years, finding ways to beat diseases that no one thought could be conquered. This success is possible because of the support given to St. Jude through its volunteers, donors, employees and events such as the Kroger St. Jude and Cellular South Cup Tennis Championships.

For more than a decade, the KSJ has been more than a tennis tournament for St. Jude. It has helped spread awareness about the mission of the research hospital and helped to raise more than $2 million since 1993, when the hospital became the tournament's beneficiary.

Since St. Jude has been a part of the tournament, some of tennis's top names have played in the event including Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras (1996 champion); Michael Chang (1997), Mark Philipoussis (1998) and Andy Roddick (2002).

In 1998, the tournament established a $1.25 million chair at the hospital for the Arthur Ashe Chair for Pediatric AIDS Research, in memory of one of tennis' greats.

Following the fulfillment of that pledge, the tournament announced in 1999 that proceeds from the event would create a $2 million endowment fund in memory of Tim Gullickson, former coach of Sampras and tour player, who died of a brain tumor in May 1996. Proceeds from the 2004 tournament will again go toward this fund.

In addition to helping support St. Jude, the tournament attracts some of the world's top tennis players to Memphis where thousands gather to see the tennis matches at the Racquet Club of Memphis.

This year, Roddick, who just recently broke the speed serve record with a blistering 150 mph serve, will return to Memphis to compete against other former champions Todd Martin (1994, 1995), Tommy Haas (1999) and Taylor Dent (2003), and top players Jan-Michael Gambill, James Blake, Robby Ginepri and Wayne Ferreira.

On the ladies' side, Lisa Raymond will be seeking her third consecutive Cellular South Cup championship. Top players Maria Sharapova, Amanda Coetzer, Conchita Martinez-Granados, and Carly Gullickson will be looking to unseat the title from Raymond.

During tournament week, many players will tour St. Jude and visit with the patients undergoing lifesaving treatment here, including Anna Kournikova. Kournikova will also present St. Jude a donation at the tournament.

Other groups that will be presenting donations to St. Jude are the National Auctioneers Association, Allstate Insurance Company and Rose Construction. A number of area schools will also be recognized for their work in the Quest for a Million Pennies campaign, held in conjunction with the tournament. The campaign asks Mid-South residents to raise 1 million pennies for St. Jude, with drop off locations throughout the area. Twenty-eight schools participated last year, raising 4.5 million of the 8.3 million total pennies. This year more than 53 schools have registered to participate in the quest.

Check in at www.krogerstjude.com this weekend for tournament results.

For more information, or to contact St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (ALSAC), see their website at: www.stjude.org

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