• S. Dani

Zina Garrsion Eat, Play, Love Charity Weekend Recap

The Zina Garrison Tennis Academy, Eat. Play. Love held over the weekend pulled out all the stops and was a huge success for the 501(c) non-profit. On Saturday, March 3, tennis players of all ages showed up to compete in the Urban Craft Invitational Tournament held at 3 beautiful homes in Memorial's Sherwood Forrest on all clay courts. ZGA students were also present to volunteer, welcome guests, help with the tennis tournaments and host donation tables.

Great Tennis Legend, and 9 time Wimbledon champ, Martina Navratilova, joined ZGA for the weekend to help her good friend, Zina Garrison raise money for the ZGA Tennis Academy. Guest were treated to some memorable moments as Martina and Zina bounce a few balls around like in the gold ole days. They also taught a tennis clinic for women and children. The ladies in attendance learned valuable tennis techniques on breathing and movement while on the court with two pros. “The heavier the racquet the less work you have to do. Most elbow injuries in tennis come from having a light racquet,” said Navratilova. Martina and Zina were very hands-on with the ladies. While the clinic was taking place, Chef Michael Gabriel, of Season 12 of Fox’s hit TV show Hell’s Kitchen, cooked up mouthwatering vegan hors-d'oeuvres  as well as shrimp and beef bites. Guest chefs, Bev Lazo and Rich Mancini formerly of Hell's Kitchen also prepared dishes for VIP tents.

Saturday night the racquets went up, and out came the dress shoes and cocktails. The Eat Play Love VIP dinner, hosted by Richard and Marty Finger, was full of laughter and familiar faces. Emcees for the evening, Jerome Gray, and Lisa Malosky kept the program moving and Zina let the audience in on a little story during the Q&A, “When I first met Martina I was walking by and she said ‘Hey Zina’ and I freaked out because I didn’t know she knew who I was.” They have been friends ever since with much love and appreciation for one another. Familiar faces in the crowd included Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Kim Roxie (Owner of Lamik Beauty), Jolanda Jones, Jeremy Horton and his Woodforest Bank Sponsor team, Errol Hughes (Porsche of West Houston Sponsor), Butch Alsandor, Gracie Cavnar (Recipe For Success), Emilian White (Amazing 102.5 FM) Doug and Cathy Reynolds just to name a few.

Food Network’s Chef Jake Smollett, of “Smollett Eats”, prepared the delectable dinner for the evening. It was heard around the room that the lobster, shrimp, and ribeye skewers were an audience favorite. All food was donated by Phoenician Speciality Market. Also, during dinner, ZGA students presented their iconic coaches, John Wilkerson and Zina Garrison, with signed pictures of all the names of the students they've taught. The sounds of the Houston Merlot Band serenaded the crowd. Grace Gibson was on vocals as well as Melvin Jones on trumpet. The audience was treated to "live art" as the talented Brandon “BMike” Odums created a masterpiece of Martina Navratilova and Zina Garrison, that was later auctioned off for $12,000. Martina Navratilova took home the prize piece.

Sunday afternoon it was a packed house as ZGA debuted the Eat Play Love fashion show sponsored by Nan Properties produced by Todd Ramos, also named “Houston’s Fashion Guy” by the Houston Chronicle. The show featured clothing from EleVen by Venus Williams, Dao by Chloe Dao, Lucho, St. Bernard, Lilly Rain. Hair and makeup provided by Lamik Beauty and UpperHand Salon. Nothing Bundt Cakes also provided the desserts. Selmo Wines and Deep Eddy's of Austin kept the bar stocked and Cocacola Southwest provided Dasani and Powerade to all the players.   Sports reporter, Butch Alsandor, was in attendance to enjoy the collaboration of fashion and sports.Notable VIP judges gathered to assist in judging designers presented by 3 students of The Art Institute of Houston. Judges included Chloe Dao (Fashion Designer), Joy Sewing (Houston Chronicle Beauty & Fashion Editor), Phyllis Williams (Houston Chronicle's Hall of Fame Best Dressed), Hector Villarreal and Patty Sturion (co-owners of Lucho Boutique). The Zina Garrison Academy provided a total of $1900 in scholarships to 3 design students from The Art Institute. The fashion show was hosted by ABC 13 morning anchor, Samica Knight. All money raised will benefit students of The Zina Garrison Tennis Academy. Eat Play Love was made possible by many amazing sponsors such as Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Porsche of West Houston, Woodforest Bank, Maxthatcommunications, Lamik Beauty Nan Properties, Urban Craft Homes, and EleVen by Venus Williams!


Photo Cred: Patrick Melon


Zina Garrison, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, & Martina Navratilova at EPL Dinner



Zina Garrison & Martina Navratilova demonstrating proper Tennis techniques to tournament participants


Zina Garrison, Chef Michael Gabriel, & Martina Navratilova at EPL Tennis Tournament


Samica Knight, Todd Ramos & Zina Garrison 


ZGA Model



ZGA Board Members with EPL Tournament winner.

Zina Garrison & Todd Ramos with the scholarship winners of The Art Institute of Houston.

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