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Benjamin Epstein

Heartthrobs Tangle at the Net in Benefit

August 14, 1986|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN

One's been making 'em swoon since before the other was born.

No matter. For many of the women spectators attending the Hartmarx Tennis Classic Pro-Celebrity Doubles Tournament, it was clearly a case of heartthrob vs. heartthrob when Pat Boone and 21-year-old Australian tennis pro Pat Cash faced off at the net at the John Wayne Tennis Club. Theirs was one of a half-dozen matches before a buffet dinner dance at the Newporter Resort, enjoyed by nearly 300 supporters of Children's Home Society.

Cash, you might recall, was the Wimbledon quarterfinalist who threw his used headbands into the crowd between points, to the delight of female fans. Plenty of young women--not necessarily tennis nuts--turned out to watch Friday night.

"We could have gone to the movies," said Kim Emanuel of Costa Mesa, "we could have gone to the bars. But Pat Cash? Oooooh! "

Cash, who went on to win the singles finals of the Hartmarx tourney Sunday, was joined by pros Vitas Gerulaitis, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, John Fitzgerald, Henrik Sundstrom, Leo Lavalle and Butch Walts at the Children's Home Society event.

Celebs included Chad Everett (Dr. Joe Gannon on "Medical Center"), Bruce Jenner (1976 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon), Bob Seagren ("PM Magazine" host and 1968 Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault), Barry Williams ("Brady Bunch"), Christopher Atkins ("The Blue Lagoon"), Alan Campbell ("Three's a Crowd") and Kevin Dobson ("Knots Landing").

If the crowd seemed to enjoy the pro-celebrity games more than the semifinal professional doubles match that began the evening, Cash said it was enjoyment of a different sort.

"If you didn't think (the pro match) was as much fun to watch, you're not a connoisseur," said Cash, whose first celebrity partner was Seagren.

"Obviously if we hit the ball as hard as we can (in the celebrity matches) all the time, there wouldn't be any rallies," Cash said. "We're here tonight to have fun, we're here to entertain. We're hitting solid shots, just hard enough that they get an idea what it's like to play against professionals."

Boone said those "solid shots" seemed to raise his own level of play.

"We amateurs probably play better when we're with the pros than we do when we're playing against fellows of equal ability, because the pros hit the ball back to us steady and level," Boone said. "Playing against other amateurs, we never know where the ball is coming from. They (amateurs) also go for the throat. The pros aren't going to do that. They keep us in the game."

Boone flew in from Dayton, Ohio, for the match, only to face the afternoon traffic from Los Angeles to Newport Beach. He seemed unfazed.

"Children's Home Society has helped 40,000 California kids since 1891," Boone said. "So planes, freeways, whatever, we so-called celebrities gladly come out and make fools of ourselves, because the children are the beneficiaries. And you come out to watch us make fools of ourselves. So everybody wins.

"Just don't break my nose, please!" Boone called out to Cash as Seagren and Lavalle joined them on the court.

Children's Home Society debutantes assisting at the event included Jennifer Busch, Melinda Dalton, Lizette Du, Karen Grundhofer, Lucy Hartford, Laurie Hayde, Margaret Henson, Deanne Jacobs and Donna Newcomb.

Also there were board vice chairman Per Trebler, who reported that the Orange County chapter has merged with the organizations from Riverside and San Bernardino counties--"a streamlining of operations" in response to heightened interest in the children's society's activities, he explained--and state board member Martha Killefer, who said she saw the merger as an attempt "to get the administration closer to the grass roots."

According to Diane Stockton of Laguna Niguel, who has just taken over as president of the Orange County Council of Auxiliaries, the $5,000 raised at the tennis event will be used to provide services of adoption, foster care, expectant parent counseling and child care.

Stephen and Kit Toth opened their home in Big Canyon to 80 of their friends Sunday to introduce them to Hungarian-born Ami Porat, conductor of the Newport Beach-based Mozart Camerata. More than $3,000 was raised for the orchestra.

The orchestra's board members and others contributed dishes for the party that included mounds of pate (Charles Paap), tri-color finger sandwiches (Rosanne Valdes) and "Hungarian cabbage rolls from the backyards of Transylvania" (Porat's mother, Shoshana). Ever the high-brow, Porat likened the pastiche of fare to a "quodlibet"--a musical term that Webster's defines as "a humorously incongruous medley."

The orchestra's season opens Oct. 12 at Newport Harbor High School, when the guest violin and piano soloists will be Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster Sidney Weiss and his wife, Jeanne.

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