BNP Paribas at Indian Wells

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What a great trip to Palm Springs and Indian Wells with my mom! We arrived on Sunday and after getting a tour of our boutique hotel, Hotel California with bikes, a lounge area, pool, fountains, and public kitchen, we toured the streets of Palm Springs. It didn’t take long to find the candy store. I’m not sure why we decided we needed a bunch of salt water taffy and “old-timey” candy, except we were hungry. We were trying to just eat a few pieces to tide us over before a very early dinner at Spencer’s, but that wasn’t enough as we stopped for a snack at one of the restaurants on the strip.

Downtown included an old theatre, a variety of stores (most of them touristy), restaurants, and a sidewalk of stars. I have to say, while enjoyable for an afternoon stroll, I’m not sure what I would do after a day in this town, but that is OK as that is all the time we allotted. The cool art gallery made it worth the visit.

On Trip Advisor, I found Spencer’s, a restaurant off the strip at a hotel and tennis club. It is ranked the #6 overall restaurant in Palm Springs, and if I filtered restaurants for just dinner, it would have ranked even higher. We were very excited about this dinner as it was going to be our only real meal since the next two days and nights we were spending at the tennis tournament. Much to our dismay, we found our dinner to be mediocre at best. Don’t order the seafood platter, white fish, or duck!


The tennis was a different story than dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed the event. Indian Wells Tennis Garden is both compact and gorgeous with trees providing much needed shade in the central area. Temporary restaurants and stores lined the back side of the center.

We had an extremely easy time finding the $20 general parking, passing through the bag check within ten minutes, and finding our way around the center for an hour before we entered stadium 1 to watch the first match at 11am. The ticket takers at the stadium are extremely diligent in making sure we deserved to be in our courtside box seats. They were also extremely strict about only leaving during odd games…a much different experience than the US Open.

The first match in Stadium 1 was between Genie Bouchard and Coco Vandeweghe. Bouchard, a Canadian, has been playing great tennis as of late, and she did not disappoint. The line up only improved as the day continued. So many big names were playing in the main arena, it was hard to leave to see the other fantastic lineups on courts 2 and 3. I have to say, general admission guests were treated to great tennis too on these outside courts.

The second match on the main court featured Andy Murray vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber. Men play the best 2 out of 3 in this tournament, and it took Murray three sets to get the win. While I enjoy the five set matches for the majors, three set matches are great because we got to see more players compete.

It was excruciatingly warm by mid-day. I try not to complain about the heat since I’m stuck in the cold all winter, but Denver was having record highs (mid 70’s and low 80’s) while we were cooking in 95 degrees which felt warmer being so close to the court. I tied my jacket to the railings to block the sun to my left and flattened out a popcorn box to cover my legs. It also became very noticeable that pink and neon are the new colors among players and guests.

I can only imagine how Madison Keys and Jelena Jankovic felt while playing the third match of the day around 3:30. I expected Madison Keys to pull this match out as she played really well as she took the first set 7-5, but Jelena was the ultimate winner in three sets. Getting all these three set matches were such a treat. Personally, I think the 3rd round is a great time to go to the tournament as there is still so much tennis to choose from and there are several upsets as the competition equalizes.

The fourth match of the day was a men’s doubles match. Rafa Nadal and his partner Busta beat Granollers and Lopez. I have been trying to see Nadal play tennis in person for two years. He is may favorite, so it was very exciting to actually see him play doubles as I hadn’t even seen him do that on television. While he and his partner won in straight sets, Nadal didn’t seem like he was quite up on his game. I know he had a wrist injury and his appendix taken out at the end of last season, so perhaps he is still knocking off some rust. I still liked seeing his speed and effort.

The day matches ran into the night session as the matches took longer than the two-hour time slots. We took a quick break for dinner, though were surprised by how fast the stadium is turned for the night session. The night matches featured Sharapova vs Azarenka and Djokovic vs Ramos-Vinolas. Azarenka put up a good fight but lost in straight sets and Ramos-Vinolas gave Djokovic a run for his money in the first set, but Djokovic got his groove going and came away with the win.

I don’t think we got back to our hotel until after 11 pm Monday night. While only 15 miles away or so, I’d probably stay at a hotel closer to the tournament since Palm Springs didn’t excite me too much.

We repeated our process on Tuesday with a few changes. We arrived at 10am like normal but this time we were greeted by a bagpipe player and given green beads in honor of St. Patrick’s day! That was fun. We also figured out late last night that box seats earned entry into the Emirates club which had air conditioning, a nice lunch, and free cushions. We visited there for lunch and in the meantime enjoyed the shade of the trees before we entered the stadium for the 11am match. The day started with Berdych defeating USA’s Steve Johnson who had a very entertaining fan club in the bleachers. I believe he was from the area.

We really enjoyed the second match of the day. Two USA women, Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams, battled it out. Serena was a bit off in the first set losing it 7-6 in a tie-breaker, but took the next two sets. The score would appear that she won the latter sets decisively 6-2 and 6-2, but the tennis played by both women was top-notch. Sloane is fast and could return Serena’s serves! I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

Much to my excitement, I got to see Nadal play again…this time in singles against Donald Young! I suppose I should have rooted for the American, but I just really admire Nadal’s drive, athleticism, and never quit attitude. Admittedly, he still didn’t play his best tennis, but it was fun to watch him and his pre-serve ritual…pick butt, adjust both sleeves on shirt, swipe his forehead, tug on both ears and his nose, bounce the ball 9 times with his racket and 7 times with his hand…then serve. His second serve ritual isn’t quite as involved. He is one energetic guy and I was pleased to see him pull off a two set win.

Since we had already seen Sharapova play multiple time between Indian Wells and the US Open, we decided to go for an early dinner so we wouldn’t miss any of the night session. We only missed the first few games of this match which I thought would be a quick two-setter and boy was I wrong. Sharapova won the first set and then Pennetta, from Italy, played lights out! She is the defending champion and these girls put on a show. It didn’t matter where Sharapova placed the ball, Pennetta returned it and eventually won point after point as she forced Sharapova into errors during the last set. Great, great tennis.

The night matches featured the men’s singles first and then the women’s. I believe the tournament was expecting Wozniaki to play, but she was upset, so the women’s singles were lower ranking players (Lisicki vs. Garcia) who didn’t draw much of a crowd at the end of night despite playing good tennis. I felt a bit sorry for them, and we stayed through most of the match but admittedly made a slightly earlier night. Federer breezed through the men’s match while defeating Seppi 6-4, 6-3.

While it was two long days in a row of nearly 24 hours of tennis, it is the best way to schedule seeing a tournament to ensure seeing all the tennis players. I planned this trip so long ago, I had no idea who would be playing when, but I knew many times players have a day off between matches so two days in a row promises variety. We sure enjoyed our trip. I can’t wait to see the final results this weekend. ETB


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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