Bebeto

McEnroe Stars In Soccer And Tennis In Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, March 12 – Fifty-year-old John McEnroe, inspired by a morning visit to Rio’s famed Maracana soccer stadium, defeated Mikael Pernfors of Sweden 6-2, 6-4 in his opening round-robin match Thursday at the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup. Also registering round-robin wins Thursday were Jim Courier, who defeated Pat Cash of Australia 6-0, 7-6 (5) and Jimmy Arias, who came back to defeat Brazil’s Jaime Oncins 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 (Champions Tie-Break). The Rio Champions Cup is the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players 30 and over.

McEnroe, playing in his first tournament since turning 50 years old on February 16, spent the morning with Courier, Cash, Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni and 1994 Brazilian World Cup soccer star Bebeto touring, kicking soccer balls and posing for pictures in the famed Brazilian soccer stadium.

“I will be able to tell my kids that I came to MaracanĂ£, on the field, because MaracanĂ£ means to soccer, what Wimbledon means to tennis,” said McEnroe. “I had played soccer before in other stadiums, but nothing compares to MaracanĂ£.”

A soccer fan, McEnroe, before leaving the Stadium, asked Bebeto to take a picture with him, as a souvenir. Said McEnroe, “It is an honor to be here with Bebeto, with a guy who has won the soccer World Cup.”

On the tennis courts, Courier jumped on Cash early and held on to win a second-set tie-break on the fast, indoor hard court of the HSBC Arena. Courier’s win avenged his loss to the 1987 Wimbledon champion in the final of the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. last August.

“In a tournament like this where you have to win four matches, you have to start well,” said Courier. “It is an advantage to win the first match, and that is what I did. I started playing very, very well, but Cash raised his level of play in the second set. He started serving better and it got tough.”

Arias came back from a set and a break down to defeat Oncins in a Champions Tie-break.

Round-robin play continues Friday and Saturday with the championship match and third-place matches scheduled for Sunday.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Pete Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end No. 1. The year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus.

Following the Rio Champions Cup, Outback Champions Series events will be played in Los Cabos, Mexico (March 18-22), Grand Cayman (April 23-26), Newport, R.I. (August 20-23), Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

Round Robin Standings
Group Maracana
John McEnroe 1-0
Jimmy Arias 1-0
Mikael Pernfors 0-1
Jaime Oncins 0-1

Group Corovado
Jim Courier 1-0
Pat Cash 0-1
Mark Philippoussis 0-0
Fernando Meligeni 0-0

Results From Thursday – March 12
Jimmy Arias, United States, def. Jaime Oncins, Brazil, 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 (Champions Tie-Break)
Jim Courier, United States, def. Pat Cash, Australia, 6-0, 7-6 (5)
John McEnroe, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 6-2, 6-4

Remaining Event Schedule
Starting at 4:30 pm
Philippoussis vs. Meligeni
Pernfors vs. Oncins
Philippoussis vs. Cash
McEnroe vs. Arias
Courier vs. Meligeni

Saturday – March 14
Starting at 3 pm
Arias vs. Pernfors
Meligeni vs. Cash
Courier vs. Philippoussis
McEnroe vs. Oncins

Sunday – March 15
Starting at noon
3rd Place Match
Starting at 2 pm
Championship Match