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CHRIS EVERT/TYCO INTERNATIONAL PRO-CELEBRITY TENNIS CLASSIC
Alese & Morton Pechter

Just picture this ... Chris Evert, Regis Philbin, Chevy Chase, Donald Trump, Mike Wallace ... for starters ... all there to help raise monies for worthwhile Florida charities ... and all delightfully warm and charming to the crowds of autograph seekers and instamatic cameras being flashed at them.  That's what it was like at the 10th Annual Chris Evert/Tyco International Pro-Celeb Tennis Classic.

The new time period for the event proved to be a huge success.  Held in December for the first time in its ten year history, the weekend events were extremely well attended.  We are sure that is because so many more have discovered what we have been saying all along .... that this is one of the most exciting events held in Palm Beach County. In association with the Chris Evert Women and Children's Center at Broward General Medical Center monies are raised to fight drug abuse and assist neglected and abused children in South Florida.

 

The weekend starts with an outstanding Pro-Am tennis afternoon at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.  Jaguar, the new official sponsor of the day, hosted the activities.  Professionals, celebrities and tennis playing aficionados played round-robin style ... mixing partners, celebs and professionals on each go-round.  This year had Chris, Regis & Joy Philbin, Keith Hernandez, Luke & Murphy Jensen, Johan Kriek, Vince Spadea, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Wendy Turnbull and Erik Silver of the Boca Hotel playing.  One of the guests playing was Howard Schnellenberger, the well-known football coach. Everyone taking part plays at least one round on the court with Chris.  Memento photos are taken of each round and then of the whole group as well as lots of candid photos as everyone relaxes after the matches and enjoys a sumptuous buffet lunch. Also this year, lovely tennis sweatshirts were given to each participant.  All this and the fun of playing with and socializing with some of the people we usually get to see only via a TV screen.....what a wonderful afternoon for everyone! 

Friday evening the J.P. Morgan Co. hosted an elaborate cocktail party at the Boca Raton Hotel and Resort for the sponsors and box holders.  Many others were also invited.  We are not sure of the categories, but it is a nice sized group that attends.  A towering ice-sculpture of a tennis player (perhaps Chris?) with racquet, sitting in a sleigh highlighted the magnificently displayed food tables filled with all kinds of delectables, and the several bars were serving up whatever you could dream of.  This year, Andy Mill took on the roll of MC and was fantastic.  Besides being Chris' husband and a gold medal ski champion, he is a terrific raconteur and to the delight of everyone present, let us all in on some inside family goings-on.  Those celebs who had arrived for the weekend's activities were introduced.  Regis Philbin and his delightful and talented wife, Joy; Chevy Chase and his beautiful wife, Jayni, Luke & Murphy Jensen, Keith Hernandez, Carling Bassett-Seguso, Brenda Schultz McCarthy, Vince Spadea and dashing across the platform just in the nick of time was Mike Wallace, right in from his plane.  The dress ranges from comfortable to slightly dressy, just no tennis shorts.

A fun-filled evening after a glorious afternoon was enjoyed by all.

Bright and early ... well, not so early ... everyone likes to have a relaxed start on the weekends so the first of the matches begins at 11AM both Saturday and Sunday.  There is plenty of time to get to the Delray Tennis Center and enjoy some coffee with... and browse the booths before heading in to the stadium.  The stadium is a permanent professional stadium that houses some of the top tennis competitions yearly.  Seating is comfortable and there are good sight lines from anyplace. Just bring along a hat, sunglasses and be sure to drink a lot of water as the sun does shine brightly in Florida.

The matches played are just one set (6 games) ... moving everything along nicely.  All the players have microphones attached so everyone in the stands can hear all the little "personal" comments they make to their team-mate or the opponents.  The banter is all in fun as well as the tennis playing.  You would not call this tournament play but it is great to watch people who we know are experts in other areas get out on a court and hit the ball .... like we all do!  There is lots of heckling, applause, cheers and jeers from the players and the crowds in the stands.

Each day there is one match pitting four of the professional tennis players against each other.  This is where you see some "real" tennis being played  ... still only one set ... but each team hits the ball with the abilities they have.  Some great playing here but you would be amazed at the skills of the celebs and how well they can play. 

Some of the "gets" are phenomenal and exciting and some are just lots of fun to watch.  Follow Pres. Bush with his strong concentration, eye always on the ball, purposeful, strong, professional swing and his exuberance when he hits a winner. He returned one of Chris' ground strokes with a behind-the-back volley to Chevy Chase, and then put away Chase's lob with a powerful overhead to win the point.  The crowds jumped to their feet to applaud. Catch Chevy Chase on the court and watch him as he dances and prances before a serve.  See Keith Hernandez hit the tennis ball almost as well as he does that baseball.  Hear Regis' comments as he hits a "killer" down the line.  Hear Chris as she tries to coach Regis.  Watch Mike Wallace run for the ball like a teenager. Take in Eric Braedon, our handsome leading man from the soap The Young and the Restless, always smiling, serving up an ace. Even Andy Mill gets on the court and the banter between husband and wife (Chris and Andy) ... is priceless. And if you think it is only the men out there, you should see the terrific game that Joy Philbin plays.

The professional tennis players, Monica Seles, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jana Novotna, Jennifer Capriati, Mary Joe Fernandez, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Bud Collins, Carling Bassett-Seguso, Robbie Seguso, Johan Kriek, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Pam Shriver, Tracy Austin, Vince Spadea and Wendy Turnbull .... whew!!  Is that a group of top players or what!!

But when you get to see these"greats" here, they are also enjoying themselves.  Jimmy laughs and winces when he thinks he will get hit with the ball in all the wrong places; Johnny Mac throws his racquet down and grimaces when he playfully disputes a line call. Jimmy and Chris play opposite each other and switch for several games ... playing as team-mates ... something that tennis fans waited years to see. Jana Novotna and Chevy Chase teaming up to confuse and bemuse their opponents. Monica Seles, with a twinkle in her eye, being a little mischievous as she gently hits the ball across the net, ... and high fives her partner, Pres. Bush when they win the point. There are smiles, laughs, practical jokes and pure enjoyment on the court.  The crowds in the stands really appreciate this different kind of look at the celebs and professional players.  Each and everyone is here to please the crowds and they autograph and pose for photos.  Even President Bush, with all his security guards around him, insisted on signing autographs before he left the court.

As for who wins and who loses, there are no trophies for the winners but the satisfaction of knowing they won that match. John McEnroe teamed with Chevy Chase to defeat Luke Jensen and Eric Braeden, 5-3.  President Bush had one victory teamed with John McEnroe to defeat Chris and Chevy Chase, then went on to pair with Monica Seles and win the last match of the day against Chris and Bud Collins.

"Last year I played both my matches with President Bush and we won," said Evert.  "This year I played both my matches against him and I lost.  I know who my partner will be next year!"

Saturday evening is the big Health Foundation of South Florida Inc., Gala Black Tie Dinner Dance and Auction.  Chairpersons for the evening were H. Wayne & Marti Huizenga, John H.  O'Neill, Patti Carpenter and Carole and Richard Siemens. This year, because the date had been changed to December for the event, the theme was a winter wonderland setting.  The men were handsome in their tuxedos and the women outdid themselves in glamour.  The long gowns, mini-dresses, mid-calf and short dresses were all present.  The coifs were elegant, the jewelry breathtaking but the atmosphere was relaxed, exciting enjoyment.

A display of the Silent Auction items had long lines during the cocktail hour as all the guests had to study the remarkable array of items up for grabs.  Bids were placed by your own personal number so no one really knows who is getting what and for how much.  However, there is a live auction during the dinner hour and that always turns into hysterics as the guests and the auctioneer and even some of the bidders try to move the bids higher ... knowing all the money goes to the charities.  There were diamonds, pearls, a turn as an "extra" on the TV show The Practice and another on the TV show Walker Texas Ranger; the use of the Huizenga Suite for 32 at a Panthers Game; an FAO Schwartz sleepover; Wimbledon center court; Australian Open odyssey; French Open for 2; Sports Illustrated swimsuit party; VIP seats for a shuttle launch and much, much more.  Lots of money came pouring in. Even with the high bidders, several items are purchased below cost.  Of course, everything is donated so all the money collected goes to the charities to fight drug abuse, child neglect .. and to give former drug dependent mothers a second chance.  Great causes.  What a wonderful feeling for those whose bids were successful, or for that matter, for all who attend who are helping to support these worthwhile efforts.

The dinner is always out of this world 5 Star delectables and the desert this time was a three-dimensional old fashioned sleigh made of chocolate and filled with a passion fruit chiffon of caramelized pineapple and orange mandarin coulis ... and absolutely no calories.... hah!

 

Donald Trump kissed Monica Seles' hand and appeared onstage with  Regis and Chevy Chase trying to answer Chris' Million Dollar Question with the now well-known line ... Are you sure that is your final answer? Mike Wallace was the Master of Ceremonies.  And Mary Wallace and Chris did some bantering before talking about the serious side of the evening ... the charities that benefit from the monies raised during the weekend.

Little Anthony and the Imperials took the stage, sang a few numbers and then it was just too much to sit and listen.  Everyone got to the dance-floor to dance along as the group continued to perform till the wee hours of the morning.  It was obvious that no one wanted the evening to end.

From Friday through Sunday all we heard was extravagant praise and rave reviews about each and every activity.  It has to be so satisfying to Chris to hear all this and know she is doing such a great job. This is one gal who really deserves all our accolades.  As a tennis star she was always a lady and someone who could be admired as a role model.  Today, as the caring mother of three terrific young boys, still as a tennis player and her desire to give something back to the community ... she continues to be that role model.

This year Chris was able to present a check for $1,000,000 to the charities!!!  Everyone had such a good time... and to be able to raise all that money for a good cause ... what a weekend!!.

Over the years over $8.3 million has been raised by this tennis event.  It is really an entertaining time for all, and the ticket prices for the day matches are not high so everyone can attend.

Chris has stated,  AI always get excited when this event rolls around and know that we are all here to help women and children get back into the mainstream of life by getting them off drugs, getting them jobs, getting them an education and getting them off welfare.

Chris Evert Charities partners with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, a public-private partnership in conjunction with the State of Florida to raise money for programs for at-risk children.

You know this is an event we absolutely love.  The dates for next year's event have not been set as yet but it will probably be sometime in December again.  We can tell you, if you do nothing else when you come to Palm Beach, plan to be here.  The Pro-Am fills up early so get your requests in soon. 

 

You can phone the office for any information: 561-394-2400

 

We look forward to seeing you at Chris' Year 2000 event.

.

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