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Gloria & Emilio Estefan

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MIAMI LIVING 111 Considering the fact that I recently married into a family that personifies tennis immortality, I feel as if I'm the ideal candidate to address Miami's thriving hive of tennis enthusiasts with concerns about the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open. From March 25 through April 5, immediately after Spring's vernal equinox, the Tennis Center at Crandon Park will host a multitude of marquee matches and vivacious volleys. This fifth-largest tennis tournament in the world, founded by Butch Buchholz in 1985 and cooperatively owned by IMG, will be a 12-day sporting spectacle. The Sony Ericsson Open is one out of a possible nine ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Masters Series events. This world-class venue features some of the best players that have ever laced up Adidas soles. With respect to the 2008 men's ATP rankings, such esteemed players include Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Most recently, Rafa (the 22-year-old Spaniard) single-handedly stole the number one ranking directly off the stench of Roger's Swiss-cheese croissanwich. Utterly devastated, all Roger (2) could do in the aftermath was polish his other 13 remarkable Grand Slam titles. Other notable players include the reigning Australian Open winner, Novak Djokovic (3), Andy Roddick (8; aka the "other half" of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition beauty Brooklyn Decker), and that talented kid from Yonkers, James Blake (10). Regarding the 2008 WTA (Women's Tennis Association), the Sony Ericsson Open also showcases superstars such as Jelena Jankovic (coveting the current number one ranking), 18 Grand Slam champion and founder of Aneres clothing line, Serena Williams (2), as well as the smashing Serbian starlet, Ana Ivanovic (5). Additionally, Venus Williams (6; considered the best grass player of our generation and 16 Grand Slam victor), alongside the infamous celebrity, Maria Sharapova (9) will both serve as catalysts to rally our sensational South Florida crowds. And yes, you might even catch a glimpse of Dolce (Maria's Pomeranian) relaxing underneath the tennis umpire's chair. Now, for those of you who missed last year's fantastic finals, Nikolay Davydenko (5) defeated Rafael Nadal, thanks to his tremendous topspin, for his first Sony Ericsson Open title. While on the other racket, Serena Williams captured an unprecedented fifth Sony Ericsson Open trophy. This year, the Open is searching for more than 900 volunteers and 400 ball people of all ages. After dusting off and double- checking my cartography skills, I've come to realize that this is the largest volunteer presence for any tennis tournament on land. The remaining volunteer positions include transportation, guest safety, court ushers, and ticket checkers. Not only is the Sony Ericsson Open identified as an action-packed tennis tournament from start to finish, but it's also acknowledged "one of the most glamorous events on tour." Over the past two decades, the Open has relished the opportunity to expand its colorful reputation as a complete entertainment phenomenon. This year's exhibition will incorporate an assortment of fashion shows, musical entertainment, clusters of dining delicatessens, and an endless parade of shopping possibilities. Styles from Fila, Eleven, and Blumarine will be on hand at both the Sony Ericsson Open and nearby Village of Merrick Park. Last but not least, the Open will also posses the Bombay Sapphire Lounge. The Lounge, hosted by James Moreland (U.S. Master Mixologist) on selected dates, offers an array of spirits and cocktails. (I highly recommend the Screaming Lizard, Tijuana Taxi, and Cherry Picker for those of you salivating over a new favorite drink.) In closing, if you're looking to ace an all- around tennis adventure, then you simply can't miss the sizzling strokes of the Sony Ericsson Open. For more information, visit ML EVENTS What a Racket! Acing The Sony Ericsson Open Words by Matthew Hoyt Weeks

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