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Memphis is hosting some of the world's top tennis players this week as they take to the court in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Cellular South Cup to benefit St. Jude. Tournament play continues through February 21 at the Racquet Club of Memphis.
Defending champion Andy Roddick, the top American player who is ranked No. 7 in the world, has returned for the 2010 championships, marking his 10th consecutive appearance in the Memphis tournament. Joining him in the competition for $1.1 million in prize money is the No. 12 ranked player, Fernando Verdasco; three-time champion Tommy Haas, and U.S. Open series winner Sam Querry, as well as James Blake, Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent and the Bryan Brothers, the No. 1 U.S. doubles team.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is making her second trip to Memphis to play in the Cellular South Cup, having played at the tournament in 2004. The No. 3 ranked American female player, Melanie Oudin, is making her first visit to Memphis. Other players in the $220,000 competition include Kaia Kanepi, Karolina Sprem, Vania King and Michelle Larcher de Brito.
Sharapova also visited the St. Jude campus for the tournament's draw ceremony, when the matchups of the top seeds were determined. Other players in the tournament toured the hospital Monday, February 15, and met with patients and their families and signed autographs.
St. Jude has been the beneficiary of this event since 1993, when it was known as the Kroger St. Jude, and to date the event has generated more than $3 million for the hospital. The money raised by the tournament has funded the Arthur Ashe Chair of Pediatric AIDS Research at St. Jude and an endowment named for tennis great Tim Gullikson, who died of a brain tumor in 1996.
For more information, call the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships ticket office at (901) 765-4401 or visit the tournament Web site at http://www.rmkchampionships.com/.
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