2001 CHRIS EVERT/RAYMOND JAMES PRO-CELEBRITY TENNIS CLASSIC
Alese & Morton Pechter
Chrissie, the darling of the tennis world in her teens, continues to charm the world. With the catastrophe of September 11th we had thought there might be a pall over the annual Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic in December of 2001. However, what we found was that Chris was able to, once again, play the role model ... and show the world that we could all go on and lead our lives ... not let terrorists rule.
Chris and husband, Andy Mill, our hosts, along with all the celebrity guests, professional tennis players, volunteers and spectators were determined that this would be the "best ever" event. And it was! The star-studded lineup for this 12th annual event included former President George Bush and soccer superstar Mia Hamm taking to the courts while music superstar Gloria Estefan entertained at the Black Tie Gala!
The celebrities came from all over the country ... flying in when it was not the most popular mode of transportation ... to join in the festivities. The program this year had a slight change as a Kids Day Tennis Clinic was added on Thursday. Hundreds of kids piled in to the Delray Tennis stadium to get first hand lessons from Chrissie and several other professional coaches. The highlight for the afternoon ... in addition to the tennis and meeting Chris Evert ... was the presence of Tony Hawk.
You have to know that Tony Hawk is an icon in the children’s world. He is the guru of the skateboard, has won almost every major title given for skateboarding maneuvers and even has several video games out centering on his skateboarding skills. The kids idolize him and could not believe that they would be able to be up-close-and-personal to their hero. Tony spoke with the kids and answered their questions. He could not give a full demonstration of his skateboarding as his jumps, twirls and tumbles would damage the surface of the tennis court but he did show Chris Evert a few basic moves....mainly how to stand and roll on the skateboard without falling off! Chris was a real trouper and did conquer the basics ... much to the thrill of the onlookers. After that, Tony signed autographs for every child that was present and posed for photos. It was a fantastic afternoon and a great addition to the event.
Friday afternoon was the day for the Pro-Am which was sponsored by Jaguar Cars, www.jaguar.com ... and once again held at the tennis courts of the Boca Raton Resort & Club. We have stated before that we think this is one of the best "buys" at the event. This year participants had the opportunity to mix and mingle with Chris, Alan Thicke, Dan O’Brien (Decathlon Gold Medalist), James McDaniel (Lt. NYPD Blues), Luke Jensen, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Wendy Turnbull and several other professional tennis coaches. Not only do you get a chance to play tennis with some of the top players, get some personal instruction, match strokes with the celebs but each participant gets to play on the court with Chrissie. It is a round-robin format with lots of running, chasing, laughing and comradery. When everyone is just about exhausted from play all climb the steps to the terrace for a delightful lunch where they are able to relax, enjoy each other’s company and extol the virtues of that "great placement shot."
Friday evening was the elaborate cocktail party at the Boca Raton Hotel and Resort for the sponsors and box holders. Magnificent ice-sculptures decorated the elaborate food tables and all were able to eat, drink, relax and socialize while watching beautiful models from Saks 5th Avenue show off the newest and latest in resort fashion. The highlight for everyone is getting to see all the celebs who will be playing on the courts. Andy Mill, served again as the M.C. and it is always so much fun when he does. He is not only handsome, an Outdoor Sportsman Fishing Expert and TV producer and an Olympic skier, but also a great speaker. Of course, he always adds a few footnotes about Chris and the family that Chris would just as soon not be made so public. It makes for a lot of fun and laughs. The celebrities present this year were: Tom James, CEO of Raymond James Associates, Chevy Chase, news anchor Stone Phillips (NBC Dateline), Alan Thicke, Dan O’Brien, James McDaniel, figure skater Caryn Kadavy, Mia Hamm, Katherine Harris, Tony Hawk and professional tennis stars ... Hana Mandlikova, Luke Jensen, Mark Philippoussis, Carling Bassett-Seguso, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Wendy Turnbull. What a super evening!
Saturday morning the tennis began ... but not that early. The matches began at 11AM so there was plenty of time to get to the Delray Courts and enjoy the midway of booths that attract you with food delicacies and lots of goodies to peruse or purchase....as well as many souvenir give-a-ways.
Andy Roddick, the newest tennis phenom, and Mia Hamm teamed up for an exciting 6-5 win over our host Chris Evert and partner Chevy Chase. Mia also partnered with ATP Tour player, Mark Philippoussis to defeat fellow gold medalist Dan O’Brien and Hana Mandlikova. Roddick won another match teaming with Stone Phillips against James McDaniel and Mark Philippoussis. Never fear though ... Chrissie did win one match when she teamed with Alan Thicke and managed to outplay Luke Jensen and former New York City Mayor, David Dinkins. Also taking to the courts were Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Carling Bassett-Seguso and Robbie Seguso.
Sound like fun? It certainly was. Many of these "celeb" players are excellent on the tennis court but what makes it fun are the comments, strategies and remarks they make while embroiled in the dynamics of winning the game. They all wear mikes while they play so that the spectators are on the "inside" to all the court planning. The amusing part is ... so are their opponents!
Saturday evening was an evening we shall always remember. The Health Foundation of South Florida Gala Black Tie Dinner at the Boca Hotel Resort and Club was awesome. Chairpersons for the evening were H. Wayne & Marti Huizenga and Carole and Richard Siemens. Along with all the other celebrities, golf legend Greg Norman and his beautiful wife, Laura joined in the festivities. A cocktail reception begins the evening. The guests arrive and that in itself is an eyeful. The men look oh-so-handsome in their tuxedos and the women sport the newest and latest in fashion’s evening wear ... spangles, crashing necklines, bare backs, sides, long trails ... magnificent looking shoes, evening bags, accessories ... and jewelry to-die-for! Background music is played, food and drink served as the guests place their bids for some of the exciting auction items that lucky bidders will take home.
On to the main dining room and we just gasped. The theme this year was African Safari. Tablecloths and table decorations were either leopard or zebra motif and animal figures and paintings paraded around the perimeters of the ballroom and hung from balconies and chandeliers. A gourmet’s delight dinner graced the table while soft dance music played in the background. It is one of the few dinners we attend where you can actually talk with your tablemates during dinner. Just before the most eye-catching, scrumptious dessert, Stone Phillips took to the lectern and then Chrissie. With everyone having such a great time partying, Chris wanted to be sure they all remembered why they were there. This was a charity event that has raised more than $9.3 million to fight drug abuse and assist neglected and abused children in South Florida. A short film was shown so that all could see where the monies go and how successful the programs are.
The Live Auction followed dessert and it is here that the numbers fly and the bids go higher and higher. There were several contests among the guests for some of the super items ... an autographed photo of the Bush Family/Former President George Bush & Barbara with President George W. Bush and Laura; a Rolex watch; Super Bowl Tickets; tickets for the French Open; tickets for Wimbledon; but Luke Jensen was determined to win the prize he had set his sights on. He bid bravely and won the invitation to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Party!
After all the excitement of the bidding quieted down ... Gloria Estefan was brought on stage. Much to everyone’s delight, Gloria was not going to perform just one number and walk off ... she did her full show!!! When we first heard that Gloria was to be the performer and that she was going to do a full show ... we envisioned this exquisitely dressed audience sitting in their chairs at their tables listening and watching this fantastic performer.
Were we wrong!!! We were standing right in front of the stage so we could get a few photos and then move off to the side so everyone would have a clear view. To our amazement, even as Ms. Estefan was taking to the stage, the crowds filled the dance floor and crowded the edge of the stage. At first it was pure admiration for this glamorous gal with the glorious voice and stage presence ... then the dancing began and did not stop. As long as Gloria sang, the crowds danced and twirled. Some, with those gorgeous high, spike heels, took off the shoes and danced barefoot. It was exciting, whirling dervish merriment. What a great evening!!
Next day was Super Sunday at the tennis courts as Former President George Bush joined the players ... along with Caryn Kadavy and tennis superstars, Jim Courier and Tommy Haas. They joined with the stars and celebs from Saturday to "play more tennis." The popular rock band "Sister Hazel" started off the festivities for the day with a rousing pre-game concert.
Chris has said that when she plays with President Bush she wins ... guess that was right on again this year. As his partner they won their match and President Bush went on to partner with Mark Philippoussis for the next match ... winning that one also.
A super gal running a super event. Chris also announced that she has earmarked some of the event proceeds to benefit the victims of the Sept. 11th attack.
"Our event is about helping children and their families to have a second chance," she said. "While we will continue to raise funds to help families in South Florida, the events of Sept. 11th are just too big, too tragic not to do all we can to help."
All the celebrities come to help Chris and her charities. They all lead very busy lives and have extraordinarily heavy schedules but they give freely of some of their own "quiet" time to be part of this event. They laugh, they play, they sign autographs and pose for photos with the fans who are present. Even President Bush, surrounded by his security, insisted he wanted to sign autographs and pose for some photos before he left the area.
We must have told you this is a super event that you should not miss. Well, we can repeat that suggestion. It just gets better each year.
Chris Evert Charities partners with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, a public-private partnership administered with Florida to raise money for needy programs which otherwise would not be fully funded by the state. The Ounce of Prevention Fund matches moneys raised through the Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic.
In addition to the title sponsor Raymond James Financial Services ( www.raymondjames.com), Chris Evert Women and Children’s Center at Broward General, the Health Foundation of South Florida, the Boca Raton Resort and Club and the City of Delray Beach also support Chris Evert Charities as sponsors.
We can give you some advance word for the next event. Chris Evert, Andy Mill shall be there ... and you can be sure we will be also. We would not miss this one.
The dates are already set ...
The Pro-Am ... November 22, 2002
Tennis ... November 23, 24th, 2002
The Gala Black Tie ... Saturday evening, November 23, 2002
We suggest you make your plans early. Tickets and information can be obtained by calling....
561-394-2400 Ask for Susan.
And remember ... when there please say hello. We are the ones running around the place loaded with cameras.
See you in Delray Beach next November.
JUST THE FACTS PLEASE .......
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2002
Pro-Am (only for those who have previously signed up)
12:00 PM-2:00 PM. Boca Raton Resort & Club
Champions' Cocktail Reception for Boxholders, Sponsors, Celebrities, and Pros
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM. Boca Raton Resort & Club
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2002
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Delray Beach Tennis Center
Black-Tie Evening ...
Cocktail Reception and Silent Auction
6:30 PM. Boca Raton Resort & Club
Gala Black-Tie Dinner Dance and Live Auction
7:30 PM. Boca Raton Resort & Club
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2002
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Delray Beach Tennis Center