Photos and story by Pat Krause
INDIAN WELLS – The Indian Wells Tennis Gardens BNP Paribas Open started on Mar. 4 and continues through Mar. 17. Hundreds of tennis professionals are trying to win the coveted trophy. Tennis matches continue each day with one winner and one loser in each match. There are Men’s singles, Women’s Singles and Men’s and Women’s Doubles matches on the many courts in the Gardens. Top seeds have to beat everyone to get to the finals on Sunday.
The Stadium Court has really the most exciting matches daily and the players have to bring their A game in order to win. The weather has been fantastic for tennis; the wind has not been a factor yet and the rains have held off so no matches have had to be cancelled. Warmer weather is predicted later in the week, which could be a problem for the afternoon matches.
The Tennis Gardens provides entertainment each day in the area with tables and food vendors. Clothing exhibitions, Radio shows and an autograph tent are some of the biggest attended areas. Fans line the practice area in hopes of getting an autograph from a favorite player on a huge or small tennis ball. Vendors selling all kinds of tennis related articles line the grounds and a park with shade trees provide relief from the sun and heat. This is a family event as well as parents can bring their children to see this one of a kind event in the Desert.
Back by popular demand this year is the BNP Paribas tennis ball recycling program. Held on the weekends, the first 1,000 fans, each day, who bring
six or more used tennis balls to the Garden will receive one free can of new Penn tennis balls.
Tennis fans instantly recognize the names of brothers, Bob and Mike Bryan; they are arguably the best doubles team in the history of the game. What is less known is that they also perform as the Bryan Brothers Band, and will do so each night until Friday, March 15 at the Village Stage, a 19,000-square-foot shaded stage erected last year at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Think this tennis venue can’t get any better? We have it on good authority that beginning Monday, March 18, crews will begin work on a $70 million expansion that will include a new, permanent 8,000-seat second stadium, 2,000 additional parking spaces along with two restaurants.
Although the infusion of new money (billionaire Larry Ellison’s) is always helpful, the success of what is now the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells didn’t happen over night, or even over a couple of years.
One of the driving forces behind taking a moribund tournament and turning it into the major success it is today is Charlie Pasarell, the former tournament director, managing partner and owner of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. In recognition of his contributions to the sport of tennis, it has just been announced that Charlie Pasarell has been elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame; another ace by the former UCLA star.