By Andy J. Gordon and Jenny Peters
Stars from tennis and entertainment met for some fun in the desert at the 14th annual Desert Smash event held on March 6, 2017 at the La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in La Quinta, California. The big winners were the fans in attendance and the two charities that received the proceeds from the enjoyable day.
While many big names contributed their time, none shone brighter than 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who hosted the event and played for Yetunde Price Resource Center, a charity she founded with sister Venus to honor their eldest sister who was killed in an act of violence in 2003.
Tennis Channel presented the event and Brett Haber, one of their popular studio hosts, acted as emcee for the matches. Before any of the tennis action took place, Haber introduced the stars on the court. Boris Kodjoe, Colton Haynes, Omar Miller, Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci, Jason Collins, Donna Mills, Lisa Leslie, Dr. Phil McGraw and Luis Guzman were all ready for some fun tennis games.
Things started off with a genuine, high-level exhibition when the Bryan Brothers, the greatest doubles team of all time, faced off against fellow pros Sam Querrey and Hyeon Chung. Comedian and actor, J.B Smoove was on the microphone and in the umpire’s chair for the short match.
Later, Haber introduced Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Both former champions and world number one players are returning to the pro tour after each gave birth to their first child. Actor Boris Kodjoe, currently starring in CBS’ “Code Black,” partnered with Azarenka in doubles. Their opponents were Williams and Colton Haynes, best known for his roles on”Teen Wolf,” “Arrow” and “American Horror Story: Cult.”
The chair umpire and master of heckling was comedian Wanda Sykes. Kodjoe was a competitive juniors player and he founded Sophie’s Voice Foundation, the other charity that benefited from the event. Haynes has some game as well, so the quick mini-set featured some competitive, yet light-hearted action.
The rest of the celebrities got in on the fun as a variety of on-court games took place involving catching a ball in a can and hitting targets across the net. Haber encouraged fans to make donations in exchange for being able to participate in the on-court shenanigans.
The final match was a short singles exhibition between Querrey and Chung. They played a quick tiebreaker and showed off some of the skills that have made them top players in the world.
Later that night, a big party took place in the La Quinta Fiesta Ballroom. The event was hosted by Desert Smash event sponsors Tesla, Tennis Channel and El Tequileño Tequila. Music by Beats by Dre talent DJ Millie, DJ Bob Sinclar and Hundred Handed kept the guests moving. It was an awfully attractive crowd of tennis pros, celebs and entertainment stars at this hugely successful 14th annual Desert Smash, which kept on going well into the night. Seems as if everyone loves to party hearty for a good cause!