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Tennis event 'circa 1952' always a classic

Now in its 12th year, the Wood Racquet Classic raised thousands toward a cancer charity and brought a few stars to the Newport-Mesa.

September 06, 2010|By Joanna Clay, Joanna.clay@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — South Coast Plaza was likely to be out of tennis gear this weekend because practically every player and spectator at the 12th annual Wood Racquet Classic was rocking white shorts, polos and crazy socks. Seriousness was checked at the door, but style was definitely required with the RSVP.

Held at co-founders Clay Peterson and Johnny McCray's adjoining homes on East 20th Street, the yearly event attracted an estimated 1,000 people — more guests than last year by about 30% — to benefit the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

Becca Peterson, Clay Peterson's wife, said every year the day raises $15,000 to $20,000.

Representatives from the John Wayne Cancer Foundation were on hand, even putting a bedazzled racquet up for auction. The racquet is part of the foundation's Children's Healing Project, an art therapy program designed for pediatric cancer patients.

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Film director McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol, a Newport Beach native) and his doubles partner, Kevin Forbes, came back this year to defend their title as reigning champs. However, they faced stiff competition with former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis and his partner, surfer Rob Machado. Both teams almost made it to the end, landing in the final four.

McG and Forbes were beat by Matthew Fletcher and John Rinek, and Philippoussis and Machado lost to Martin Zaccardo and Mark Hansen. In the final set between the two victors, Zaccardo and Hansen won.

However, as all the guests contended, the event was more about the cause than the competition.

McG, who arrived accompanied by actress Bridget Moynahan ("Coyote Ugly," "I, Robot") , goes way back with the founders of the event.

"I have been friends with Johnny McCray, Clay and Shane Baum for a long, long time … since we were all in high school," said McG, who grew up in Corona del Mar and produced "The O.C."

Baum is the owner of Costa Mesa-based Baumvision, co-sponsor of the event, which makes sunglasses for Penguin and Paul Frank.

"We've all had our lives touched by cancer in one way or another and for the community to come together with this much style … is a very, very cool thing," he said. "It's part of what is right in Newport Beach."

McG said he was excited to celebrate the event with other players such as surf pros Kelly Slater and Machado, skate and surf designer Bob Hurley, and Philippoussis.

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