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James Blake and Taylor Dent Join Talented American All-star lineup for Swingtime

October 27, 2005 02:20 PM

Currently playing the best tennis of his life, James Blake will showcase his talents along with talented young American Taylor Dent and many other well-known celebrities at the seventh Annual Swingtime-A Pro-Celebrity Pro-Am Tennis & Golf Tournament benefiting the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation at its new venue in Naples, November 19-20. 

Swingtime’s fun-filled weekend activities will feature a Round-Robin Tennis Pro-Am and Tennis Exhibition with world-class professionals at The Players Club & Spa at Lely Resort, a Golf Pro-Am Tournament at the Olde Cypress Golf Course, and “An Evening With the Stars” Swingtime Gala presented by Allen Systems Group at The Registry Resort & Club on Saturday night.

25-year-old Blake’s life story has certainly been the feel-good story of the tennis world the past year as he rebounded from illness, injury and tragedy to come into his own this summer.

In May 2004, Blake suffered a freak accident during practice where he fractured a vertebra in his neck running in to a net post.  He then battled a serious case of shingles that caused temporary paralysis on one side of his face as well as affected his hearing and vision, resulting in his only playing three tournaments from July to the end of the year.

And a year ago in July, Blake’s beloved father, Thomas, passed away due to cancer.  Blake was ranked No. 94 at the beginning of 2005, but after his sensational summer he is now ranked No. 34.  Blake represented the United States in a 4-1 Davis Cup play-off round victory over Belgium. In August, Blake reached the Washington DC final, a tournament he won in 2002. Later in the month, he won his second career title at the New Haven, Conn. tournament, delighting fans that consider Blake, who grew up in nearby Fairfield, a native.

At the US Open, Blake blazed a trail into the quarterfinals where he challenged tennis superstar Andre Agassi before losing a thrilling 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) battle that many consider the match of the tournament.

Taylor Dent, one of the rare serve-and-volley specialists playing on today’s professional tennis tour, joins the All-Star cast.  Dent, 24, is currently ranked No. 28 in the world and has won four career titles. This year, Dent has reached the final at the Adelaide tournament in January and at the Indianapolis tournament in July. Dent is the son of two former tennis players - Australian dad Phil Dent was a Top 20 player who lost to Jimmy Connors in the 1974 Australian Open final and was also a semifinalist at the French Open and quarterfinalist at Wimbledon; American mom Betty Ann Stuart was a Top 10 ranked player who reached the US Open doubles final with Renee Richards in 1977.

When Dent won the first of his four career titles by beating James Blake in the 2002 Newport final, he created tennis history by becoming the first father-son duo to win titles in the Open Era of tennis, which began in 1968.

“I’ve heard great things about Swingtime from my friends on the tour who have taken part in the event in the past, so I’m very happy to play in this year’s tournament,” Dent said. “My dad played tennis at the same time as the Gulliksons so I really feel this will be a special event for me to take part in.”

Swingtime is an event designed to publicize as well as support the efforts of the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation’s aim of assisting brain-tumor patients and their families in managing the physical, emotional and social challenges presented by the illness. World-class tennis pro and coach Tim Gullikson, the twin brother of Swingtime host Tom Gullikson, passed away in 1996, at age 44, after losing his battle with brain cancer.

“I am very exciting about this year’s Swingtime event - we’re going to be at a wonderful new site and have some outstanding players heading to Naples to be a part of all the fun,” said Tom Gullikson, Swingtime host and Chairman of the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation. “We are very pleased that Taylor Dent has decided to join us for this year’s event and it’s great to see how well James Blake and Nicole Vaidisova are playing these days.”

An individual ticket for the Swingtime Gala is $250, while becoming a table sponsor costs $2500 for a table of 10. Tickets for Saturday’s tennis exhibition, which begins at 1:00 pm cost $75 for a Box Seat [$67.50 for USTA members] and $40 for a General Admission Seat [$34 for USTA members]. There are many other package deals available for not only the tennis exhibition, but to take part in the tennis pro-am and/or golf pro-am tournament.

For more information about Swingtime, which will be broadcast statewide in Florida, call C & H Events, Inc. at (239) 649-7171 or (561) 394-9190 or email MLCope@chevents.com. For information on the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation please visit their website: www.gulliksonfoundation.org.

Among the notable celebrities who will join Blake and Dent and Vaidisova play tennis and golf as well as try their hand at the casino tables at the Saturday night gala during the exciting Swingtime weekend in support of the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation are: tennis stars Mardy Fish, Xavier Malisse, Chris Evert, Vince Spadea, Luke Jensen, Johan Kriek, Corina Morariu, Justin Gimelstob, Mary Joe Fernandez, Lori McNeil, Kathy Rinaldi, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Ricardo Acuna, Owen Davidson, Carling Basset-Seguso and Swingtime host Tom Gullikson; former baseball standouts Keith Hernandez, Bill Gullickson, Ivan Murrell, and Danny Ozark; golfers Michelle McGann, Claes Johncke and Peter Johncke; fooball alumni Don Silvestri, Jim “Crash” Jensen, George Mira, and Earl Morrall; Olympic track & field luminary Bob Beamon; Olympic skier Andy Mill; actress Robin Givens and sportscaster Brett Haber.






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