By Jenny Peters and Andy J. Gordon
The 13th Annual Desert Smash, “A Charity Celebrity Tennis Event,” smacked a ton of tennis balls on its way toward raising cash for children’s charities on March 7, 2017. Held at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort in Rancho Mirage, California, the annual competition and evening bash drew some of the biggest stars from film and television, along with several professional tennis players for some fun in the desert. The pros – including Bob and Mike Bryan, Sam Querrey, Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau – were available because they are in the desert for the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, taking place from March 7 to 19.
Award-winning actor Jon Hamm hosted and played in a celebrity/pro match benefitting St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Joining Hamm on court and as co-host was actor Boris Kodjoe, currently starring in CBS’ hit show “Code Black.” Kodjoe is a very good tennis player with real ability; he was playing for Sophie’s Voice Foundation. Bob and Mike Bryan, who are the most celebrated doubles team in professional tennis history played with Hamm and Kodjoe. Hamm downplayed his tennis skills before the exhibition, but he played well enough to not embarrass himself. A portion of the event’s ticket sales were donated to the local Palm Beach charity, Variety – Charity of the Desert.
Bob and Mike Bryan have participated in this convivial event every year and really know how to entertain an audience. They also played a short exhibition against fellow pros Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. Other pros on hand for the all-day event included Americans Donald Young and Sam Querrey. Young played singles against fellow pro Malek Jaziri while Querrey faced Dustin Brown. In a highly entertaining doubles match, Querrey was paired with actor Timothy Olyphant and Young played with hip-hop artist Redfoo. The players were all miked and the comical dialogue was better than the tennis.
The crowd enjoyed a sunny afternoon of tennis and mingled with the pro players as well as the celebrities – many of whom did not play tennis – who made the trek to the desert. Spotted in the stands and at the party were Marcia Gay Harden, Ashley Tisdale, Camilla Belle, AnnaLynne McCord, Perry Reeves, Justin Chambers, Jillian Murray, Emily Tyra, Ben McDonnell and hockey great Teemu Salanne. Randy Jackson of “American Idol” fame acted as guest umpire for a couple of the exhibition matches.
Plenty of money was raised for the various charities via auctions held throughout the afternoon, as fans vied for the chance to smack some balls with the stars, act as the umpire during the celebrity/pro matches, get a private lesson from the Bryan brothers or go on a “Code Black” set visit. At the cocktail party and concert that went well into the evening, Jon Hamm and Boris Kodjoe were spotted genially chatting and taking photos with the guests, before Redfoo and the Party Rock Crew put on an entertaining concert.
The 13th Annual Desert Smash Celebrity/Pro-Am Event raised over $100,000 for the charities – a huge success and tons of fun for the tennis lovers who came from near and far for the experience.
Photos courtesy of David Burrows and Andy J. Gordon