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Tennis Anyone?

After a two-year hiatus, the Indian Wells tennis tournament returns with a different feel

 

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden at sunset during the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.

The sun sets at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the 2018 BNP Paribas Open. After a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BNP Paribas Open returns on Monday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

BILL DWYRE

 

The BNP Paribas tennis tournament, like so many things in sports lost to the need for COVID-19-precautions, will have an event for the first time in 19 months, starting this week.

The prestigious event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden canceled its March event in both 2020 and 2021 and successfully and controversially negotiated to move to October so it wouldn’t lose two full years. The October dates partially conflicted with the Shanghai Masters and smaller tournaments in Asia and Europe, but the governing bodies of tennis eventually decided to allow Indian Wells to go ahead Oct. 6-17. Shanghai eventually canceled its Masters 1,000-level event, citing pandemic concerns.

There is a coincidental element at play. In early 2000, when the Indian Wells tournament was struggling financially, Shanghai pushed to purchase it and move it and its dates to China. Tournament founders Charlie Pasarell and Raymond Moore found new investors in the eleventh hour, retained the event for the desert and turned it into one considered the fifth major in the sport.

Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, reacts after defeating Novak Djokovic, of Serbia.

Tournament qualifying will be held Monday and Tuesday, followed by the start of the women’s main draw Wednesday and men’s main draw Thursday.

This 2021 event, while still one of the biggest stops on the pro tours, will have a different feel on several fronts. The men’s star attractions for years — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, each of whom has won 20 major tournaments — will be absent. Federer and Nadal are injured and Djokovic withdrew last week. The women’s star for years, Serena Williams, is also not entered.

But the recent announcement of two wild card entries may have spiced up the field.

Andy Murray, a three-time major champion and once considered a part of the Big Four with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, has recovered from a long spell of injuries and took a wild card into the tournament. Same for crowd favorite Kim Clijsters, who won four Grand Slam events and won twice in the desert.

Andy Murray reaches to return a shot
Andy Murray returns a shot during his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the U.S. Open on Aug. 30.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Men’s defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria will not return. He is still recovering from a wrist injury. But women’s 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada will play. Andreescu came out of nowhere to win at Indian Wells in 2019, then six months later stunned Serena Williams to win the U.S. Open.

Even bigger attractions may be the success stories from this year’s U.S. Open. Daniil Medvedev of Russia spoiled Djokovic’s quest for a calendar-year Grand Slam, the first since Rod Laver’s in 1969, with a stirring five-set victory in the final in New York. And newcomers Leylah Fernandez and Anna Raducanu played an inspiring U.S. Open final and charmed the packed house in Arthur Ashe Stadium with both their tennis and their post-match warmth. Raducanu became the first qualifier to win the event and Fernandez was equally unheralded coming into the Open. Both are teenagers, Fernandez from Canada and Raducana from England.

As large and prestigious as this event has become, there will be many differences from past years.

Tournament officials say they are shooting for 60% capacity attendance, which would be about 300,000 people over the 12-day event. There will be no paper tickets. Spectators will receive tickets through an app and show them on their phones at the entrances. It will also be a cashless event. All entrants must be vaccinated. No spectators under age 12 will be allowed.

There will be a chair umpire and ball kids for each match, but no line-callers, as was the case at the U.S. Open. The electronic Hawkeye cameras, long ago installed on each court at Indian Wells, will be the final word on line calls.

As a nod to potential hot October weather in the desert, there will also be an emphasis on night matches. Official night matches will be held, as usual, on Center Court and Court 1, but on seven other courts with lights, day sessions will be scheduled with later matches not starting before 6 p.m., pushing many matches on those courts well into the evening and the cooler weather.

Those who purchased tickets for the 2020 event, which was canceled one week before it was to begin, have been given three options: a full refund, the ability to apply their purchase to this October event, or the ability to do the same for the March tournament, which will return the BNP Open to its normal spot on the tennis calendar.

BNP Paribas Open – March 9 to March 22, 2020

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“It’s not just the beauty that keeps me coming back. Indian Wells, as the tournament is called by players and fans, has the most alluring atmosphere of any tennis event I’ve attended—and I’ve been to a lot.” - Gerald Marzorati, Bloomberg

Once again Sheri Dettman & Associates is proud to be a partner and Tennis Paradise Ambassador of the BNP Paribas Open. As one of the premier sporting events in the world, we are so excited year after year to be involved in this spectacular event. Follow the links below for more information and tickets.

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2019 BNP Paribas Open is Just Days Away! Join the Fun in Tennis Paradise

INDIAN WELLS

With main draw action less than a week away, now is the time to make sure you have your tickets to the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. Enjoy the show in Stadiums 2-9 with a Grounds Pass for as little as $20 or watch some of the best athletes in the world up close from a Box Seat in Stadium 1. Treat yourself to the full Tennis Paradise experience with a Daily Double ticket and stay into the evening.

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From Sheri Dettman
In Lifestyles & Things To Do, Tennis Anyone?

Pickle People

Pickleball Changes the Recreational Landscape in the Desert

Local pro Marcin Rozpedski provides the lowdown on the pickleball craze and how to play.

JUDD SPICER FEBRUARY 21, 2019 ATTRACTIONS, CURRENT GUIDE, SPORTS

pickleball-2019

Photograph Courtesy Of Marcin Rozpedski

Marcin Rozpedski won the gold medal at the 2016 U. S. Open Pickleball Championship.

A seismic shift has been shaking up the recreational landscape as venues across the Coachella Valley convert their tennis courts for pickleball play. Last year, the USA Pickleball Association signed a multiyear deal to move its decade-old National Championships tournament from Arizona to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The event in November drew more than 2,200 players from 46 states and garnered a massive audience, thanks to an ESPN broadcast and livestream.

Marcin Rozpedski, who won the gold medal at the 2016 U.S. Open Pickleball Championship and is a former Davis Cup tennis member for Team Poland, teaches pickleball lessons daily at The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, where he is the sports director. He also leads beginner, intermediate, and advanced clinics on Mondays from November through May.

“This sport is very social with a lot of fun and a lot of action,” Rozpedski says, “and the learning curve is much easier than, say, tennis or golf. It’s a fairly easy game to learn and be introduced to at an entry level.”

Rozpedski also hosts the country club’s annual Pickleball Spring Fling, the largest local pickleball tournament in Southern California with more than 500 participants. The event returns March 22–24, and admission for spectators is free.

Eager to hit the court? Here, Rozpedski reveals five tips for novice players.

Lace Up

“People often start playing with the incorrect shoes,” Rozpedski says. “They’ll be out there with street shoes or running shoes. Pickleball is played on a tennis court, so, for safety, players need to have a proper tennis or court shoe, allowing for side-to-side movement.”

Prepare Your Paddle

“Start with a composite paddle — something strong and light, with carbon or graphite — for around $50,” he suggests (Rozpedski uses Engage Paddles). “Then, if you like the sport, move up to more advanced paddles where the face or the skin of the paddle provides more spin and feel. But the beginner won’t need this advanced paddle [or] the additional costs.”

Be the Ball

“The ball is made of plastic, so it doesn’t come up high [or] come to you. That means you need to go to the ball: Bend your knees and stay lower. I see a lot of new players swinging at air because they’re waiting for the ball to bounce.”

Don’t Get Caught Cooking In The “Kitchen”

“The ‘kitchen line’ is the nonvolley zone, which means players cannot cross or step on this line while hitting a volley — this is what makes the game so much fun. Players can’t stay back on the baseline, or opponents will hit drop shots. Players need to stay close to the kitchen line and, therefore, close to the net — all of which makes [for a] game based on touch, quick volleys, and a lot of action.”

Your Court Awaits

For the casual player, opportunities abound across the desert. If you seek a game, check out the USA Pickleball Association hub, “Places 2 Play,” at usapa.org.

  • View our VIDEO on pickleball on our YouTube Channel. Click HERE.

From Sheri Dettman
In Lifestyles & Things To Do, Tennis Anyone?

BNP Paribas Open – Experience Tennis Paradise

2018 BNP PARIBAS OPEN

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The 2019 BNP Paribas Open is less than 2 months away! Join us in the desert this March and experience the very best that this sport has to offer, all set against the unmatched backdrop of Tennis Paradise in full bloom. Reserve your seat now and start counting down the days until you experience the incredible tennis, cuisine, desert sunshine, atmosphere, backdrop and talent at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open.

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In a Pickle

Reflecting pickleball’s growing popularity, the 2018 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships step into the limelight at the Indian Well Tennis Garden.

Courtesy of THOMAS MEAGHER OCTOBER 25, 2018

pickleball

The 2018 Margaritaville Usa Pickleball National Championships Will Involve Players From The Valley And Take Place At The Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Nov. 3-11.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVEN SALISBURY

“Interest is off the charts.”

That’s how Justin Maloof, executive director of the USA Pickleball Association, describes the build-up to his fast-growing sport’s 10th annual National Championships, which for the first time will take place in the valley, Nov. 3-11, at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“We’ve got about 2,500 participants registered, which is a remarkable increase from the 1,300 we had last year,” Maloof explains. “It’s our hope that this event will begin to move pickleball more into the national spotlight.”

The time is certainly right for that step up to centerstage: pickleball’s growth has been dramatic. Originating in the 1960s, this ingenious mixture of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton currently boasts about 3.1 million players across the country. Even more indicative of pickleball’s wide-spreading popularity is the fact that the USAPA, the sport’s national governing body, has seen a staggering 620 percent increase in its membership since 2013.

VIDEO: Local playersKim Jagd, Morgan Evans, and Sherri Steinhauer share their start in the game.

But while the numbers are astounding, what fascinates Maloof more right now is the way championship week is going to feel for those involved: he can’t even begin to imagine the dream-come-true thrill players are going to experience as they take to the 45 converted courts at the Tennis Garden.

“We’ve never had an opportunity to play on a world-class venue of this caliber,” he says.

Yet while that’s the case for most of the contenders at the National Championships, who’ll be traveling from all over the country to Indian Wells, the Greater Palm Springs pickleballers already get to enjoy the splendid setting at Indian Wells. Introduced at the facility just over a year ago by far-sighted IWTG Club Director Fred Hartzman, pickleball now occupies a handful of re-purposed courts every Wednesday evening, plus Saturday and Sunday mornings.

“We went from four players that first session,” says Hartzman, disbelievingly, “to about 140, in a couple of weeks. And now the Nationals! It’s just been amazing.”

On a recent Wednesday evening, Cheryl Bowling and Linda Philips were two of the local players on hand. Cheryl, who has been playing a year or so, described the sport as “very addictive.”

“It’s the most fun sport I’ve ever played,” she said. “And most of the country clubs in the Coachella Valley are really getting into it, so there are lots of opportunities to play.”

Phillips, who came to the sport with a tennis-playing background and has also been playing for about a year, described pickleball’s attraction this way: “It’s a little easier on your body, because there isn’t as much running around. And there’s an easier learning curve.”

Both Bowling and Philips, who usually participate in doubles and mixed-doubles matches, advised anyone interested in joining the local ranks to look for an introductory clinic or instruction session, which are available at such venues as the Palm Desert Community Center and Gymnasium, where indoor pickleball is scheduled three days a week from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There were around 30 or so fellow players out on the courts with Bowling and Philips that night, and while the two women acknowledged that their own games aren’t yet ready for nationals-level competition, many others who were in attendance will participate.

The tournament will start early each morning featuring singles, doubles, and mixed-doubles matches, across many skill-graded categories and age-group brackets from teens to the over-80s. Supplementing the on-court competition will be exhibitions and instruction. Best of all for spectators, entry to the IWTG grounds is free, and there will be a variety of dining and entertainment options. There will be a charge for parking and a fee for attending matches on the main championship court.

For news and details about the 2018 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships, visit usapickleballnationalchampionships.com.

Pickleball Basics WHAT IS A PICKLEBALL COURT?

20-feet wide by 44-feet long. Net 34 inches at the center, 36 inches at the sideline posts. The “kitchen” is the seven-foot area immediately in front of the net; if you’re in the kitchen, you can’t volley (that is, no “spiking” from up close). Singles and doubles played on the same lined court – no doubles alley.

WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY

Paddle – there are approximately 80 different models available. Ball – plastic “whiffle” ball, the size of a tennis ball and perforated with 40 holes; indoor and outdoor varieties to choose from.

HOW TO PLAY

Underhand serve across net on tennis-like diagonal. Hit ball after it bounces. After three such bounced strokes, but not before, ball can be volleyed out of the air.

HOW TO SCORE

Only serving player/team can score. Game to 11, must win by two. Two out of three games wins match.

NAME GAME

There are several accounts of how the sport was named. Here’s our favorite: when the founding inventors began playing their first games, in the driveway of a home on an island in Washington State back in the 1960s, they tired of having to retrieve errant shots and enlisted the family dog to do the fetching. Pickles the dog was happy to oblige, and that enthusiastic service to the sport’s beginnings will be remembered for as long as pickleball is played.

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