Pro-Am and the Gala

What a rage! Tennis, tennis everywhere and not a free court in sight. That’s what it’s going to be like on Sept. 8, when the Association of Tennis Professionals hosts their First Annual Awards Banquet and Celebrity Pro-Am, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The racquets (or is it rackets?) will be swinging hot and fast out at Bent Tree Country Club, where 16 of the nation’s best tennis players will team up in doubles matches with locals. The locals are paying $500 apiece for the pleasure of being beaten by the experts.

Who’ll be there, you ask? Well, expect to see Wimbledon Winner Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, et al., playing with celebs like Alan King, Dan Rowan, football great Kyle Rote and soccer son Kyle Jr. Also reportedly attending will be Charlton Heston (God’s giving him the day off); Lloyd Bridges, who’s got a new TV series this fall; Barry Newman, the star of NBC-TV’s “Petrocelli”; actor-tennis buff James Franciscus; mad-cap comic Bill Cosby; and -just maybe – Ethel Kennedy. There’s even a rumor around the Pentagon that Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Clements and his wife will be out on the courts (with Secret Servicemen as partners, no doubt).

The Pro-Am will start about noon, and all proceeds from the $500 a head will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We want to point out here, that all, and we mean all, of the ATP players have paid their own way to this event. They’ve even paid for their own tickets to the banquet, and their airline tickets and hotels. It’s all for charity.

Now, to the banquet. It will start with a cocktail party at the Fairmont Hotel and during the sipping, guests will have an opportunity to bid on some tennis equipment and life-size photos of top pros. There’ll be shoes and rackets and tennis balls, and gloves and shirts and lots of other neato stuff to bid on. And you can also get a life-size photo of your favorite pro. Once again, all the proceeds will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

After the sipping and bidding, the guests move on to the Fairmont’s Gold Room for dinner and the awards. All the top tennis professionals (men and women) will be there for honors and to salute fellow players. And there will be awards for the best tennis writer, official, broadcaster and former player. ATP Prexy Arthur Ashe will preside as host, and Alan King will be the emcee. There will also be some entertainment, and maybe a surprise or two. Who knows?

It’s going to be a great night for tennis and for charity, and you know, it’s going to be a great night for Dallas too. See you there.

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