USTA.com
   
By Ryan Wolfington
© Sony Ericsson OpenChampions For Chile raised $125,000 for Chilean earrthquake relief efforts.

Fernando Gonzalez, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, and Gustavo Kuerten came together on the purple courts of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami for a fun-filled night of tennis, but with a serious focus. As the doubles match concluded, the 'Champions for Chile' event had raised funds in excess of $125,000 for disaster relief in Chile, with donations still being accepted.

On February 27 a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck the Maule Region of Chile with the epicenter roughly 200 miles southwest of Santiago. The devastation was enormous causing an estimated $30 billion in damage, killing more than 400 and leaving about 800,000 homeless.
A native of Santiago, Gonzalez skipped the BNP Paribas earlier this month to return home, view the damage, and lend support. On his experience in his homeland, Gonzalez reflected, "The people are scared. They have no faith. Some people lost family. Most of the people lost houses, jobs, everything. They have nothing."

I have come in contact with the Chillean culture many times and if there is one thing that means the world to a chillean, it is Chille.

"Chille means everything to me an my family, we get together for any event Chille is a part of," explained Edgardo Ureta who plays tennis on scholarship at the University of Hartford. "My uncle told me Chille was playing USA in David Cup my sophomore year and even though we never watched tennis, we went to cheer on our country." Ed Ureta has been playing tennis ever since and did his own small fundraiser at Gartford walking around the basketball gym collecting dollars and change.

"It's not the big money that Gonzalex can raise but it is something for my country," said Ureta.

During the match, the tennis pros traded volleys and jokes while entertaining the crowd. Tennis great Mary Joe Fernandez was on hand serving as chair umpire, and Spanish television icon Don Francisco participated in the coin toss ceremony before the match.

When Roddick heard of his friend's efforts and that he was thinking of doing a fundraising event in Miami, the idea was born. The two reached out to their friends Jim Courier and Gustavo Kuerten, who were happy to come to Miami to support their friends' cause.
Courier commented, "Tennis is one big family, and we're good about supporting each other. Initiatives like this in a time of crisis, we're lucky we have a platform to raise money and raise awareness."

Kuerten added, "The cause was the most important thing. It motivated me to come out here. I love being involved in causes like this, so for me, it was a great opportunity."

At the conclusion of the event, the players, Fernandez, Francisco, and Sony Ericsson Open Tournament Director Adam Barrett presented a check to Benito Baranda, the Social Director of Hogar de Christo, the charity benefiting from the event.

A special thanks is extended to the ATP World Tour, SAP, Sony Ericsson, LAN, ITAU, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and Citi for their generous donation of time and resources to make this such a sensational event.
 
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