Originally Published: January 29, 2018 7:30 p.m.
"California, I’ve been blue - since I’ve been away from you,” my eyes turn westward knowing it’s time to plan the trek back to the place made famous by the likes of so many great tennis players, a place simply known as the Masters Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells!
Over 40 years the BNP PARIBAS OPEN has been held in the Coachella Valley now in the Tennis Gardens of Indian Wells, March 5th through the 18th, just a hop-skip and jump from the beautiful and historic city of Palm Springs.
The best 192 men and women’s players in the world combined ATP and WTA events in singles, draws of 32 teams each in doubles and qualifying events are the main attractions to watch on one of the two stadium courts of a total of 9 courts set up with Hawk-eye and tournament matches - of a total 29 hard courts at the Gardens.
Around that is name entertainment, fine cuisine with 3 on-site restaurants or grabbing a sandwich, snack and drinks under one of two 19,000 square foot shade structures that are surrounded by large screen monitors high-lighting the matches being played.
Add in 4 acres of exposition space filled with unique vendors and you have to believe you’ve found the Garden of Eden for tennis lovers.
But there’s more.
Do you wonder how the players prepared for their matches on and off the court, there are great viewing areas to watch them from with their court times scheduled so you know in advance when to be ready.
Past and present champions are interviewed each day in the shaded plaza where you have the opportunity to ask them your own personal questions and here and there win prizes if you’re smart enough to answer a question correctly.
Want an autograph and picture with one of the famous players - many are at your disposal to do so at some of the vendor outlets throughout the week.
If you’re in the market for a new racquet, would like to hit with it first and talk with the stringers who string for the pro’s - this also takes place and your racquet will be ready for you to take home before you leave.
Are you a people watcher? Nearly half a million people will walk through the gates before this two week tennis extravaganza ends - see if you can spot some of the A-list celebrities who also like to come watch.
See the likes of Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Simona Halep, Rafa Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray and some of the up and comers; Hyeon Chung, Alexander Zverev - Lauren Davis, Madison Keys. How many more times might you get to see the Byran brothers in person before they retire?
It’s just a short 4-hour plus drive from Northern Arizona, so why in the world would any of us really want to miss this great event ... that’s why I can hardly wait. California, here I come!
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.