What do a dapper tennis star and a laid-back musician have in common? Childhood, if the characters in question are James Blake and John Mayer. “We go way back,” said Blake of the tattooed crooner, with whom he not only attended Fairfield High School in Fairfield, Conn., but also elementary school (Mayer was two grades above).

The unlikely duo had the chance to reunite on Thursday evening at Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel, where Blake co-hosted a fete with Men’s Vogue to mark the upcoming U.S. Open. Proceeds from the event benefitted Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Thomas Blake Sr. Cancer Research fund, which was founded in honor of the tennis player’s late father.

This story first appeared in the August 25, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Blake, who currently ranks 9th in the world, fielded questions as easily as he does tennis balls, deftly offering up such lines as “Comfort is key, and Nike has provided me with great options.” (He is under contract with the sportswear brand). As for off-court wear, he copped to a yen for dressing up, showing off the Hugo Boss suit he’d selected for the evening.

And though the athlete has teamed up with his former classmate at doubles charity tournaments in the past, fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a Blake-Mayer super team on the ATP Tour. “Let’s just say he’s a little better at the guitar,” Blake said with a laugh.

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