Bridgeworthy: See the “5th Slam” of Tennis at the BNP Paribas Open

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Rafael “Rafa” Nadal serves the ball on Stadium 1 at the BNP Paribas Open.

Last weekend, The Coronado Times (published by eCoronado.com) was invited to attend the early rounds of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament held at Indian Wells just East of Palm Desert.  We knew that our Coronado readers and of course, our local tennis enthusiasts, would be interested to read about this event and hopefully be encouraged to plan a future trip to the desert to see it firsthand.

Stadium 1 tennis court at Indian Wells.
Stadium 1 tennis court at Indian Wells.

Last year, nearly 500,000 people attended the event making it the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world.  Did you catch that?  Just a few hours from Coronado, the top players (both men and women) come to Indian Wells to participate in this tournament.  This year, highlighted players include:  Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka to name a few.  It offers more than $10 million in prize money and the battle is fierce amongst the remaining competitors – in fact, you can tune in to ESPN2 today, or buy tickets (official site or Stub Hub) to see the championship in person this weekend.

Here are some of the top reasons to attend this event:

#1:  It’s only 135 miles away.  Compare that to 3,000 miles to the US Open (New York) or boarding a plane to French Open (Paris), Wimbledon (London) or the Australian Open (Sydney), the BNP Paribas Open is just a tank of gas away.

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It’s an easy drive from Coronado to Indian Wells.

#2:  You are literally a few feet away from watching the best tennis players on the planet as they are warming up.  You need a ticket to enter the grounds, but once you get into the event, you have full access to all of the practice courts.  They do let you know the practice schedule and location so you can plan your time to get a good spot.  There is even an app you can download to view the practice court schedule as well as other tournament happenings.

Spectators crowd around the practice court to watch #1 player in the word, Novak Djokovic, warm up.
Spectators crowd around the practice court to watch #1 player in the word, Novak Djokovic, warm up.

#3:  Getting close to players means getting autographs – just be sure to make time to watch tennis too.

Kids waiting "patiently" to get autographs from their favorite players. Note, big tennis ball is going to cost $35 plus $1 for a Sharpie.
Kids waiting “patiently” to get autographs from their favorite players. Note, big tennis ball is going to cost $30 plus $1 for a Sharpie. They sell both onsite.

#4:  Enjoy watching top tennis stars playing “pick-up” soccer near the practice courts.  As much as they love tennis, many of the players have said, they wish they were able to play professional soccer.

Many players like to blow off steam, while keeping in shape, playing on the soccer field adjacent to the courts.
Many players like to blow off steam, while keeping in shape, playing on the soccer field adjacent to the practice courts. Watch a video of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic playing soccer from 4 years ago.

#5:  Larry Ellison attracts a cool crowd.  Not only is attendance up since he purchased the tournament in 2009 for a reported $100 million, but we were able to spot a few F.O.L. (Friends of Larry) that were in attendance:  Bill Gates, Hilary Swank and Mike Tyson.  Where else can you see Bill Gates AND Mike Tyson enjoying tennis!

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Larry Ellison (sunglasses) turns around to say hi to someone a few rows away. Photo courtesy of Kirk Steele.

#6:  Recently remodeled Stadium 2 is fantastic for both watching tennis or eating at one of the three restaurants built into the second level of this stadium:  Chop House, NOBU and Piero’s PizzaVino

Just above the seats, you can see the windows to the restaurants that surround the stadium.
Just above the seats, you can see the windows to the restaurants that surround the stadium.

#7:  Beautiful grounds to rest, dine or watch the big screens from the shade.

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You are allowed to bring in outside food and non-alcoholic drinks, however, there are three restaurants for fine dining and many other food options for casual dining.  Additional information on what you can bring inside the grounds.

#8:  Get a guaranteed autograph from players by waiting in line during special signing events.

Tennis Warehouse sponsored a Venus Williams signing.
Tennis Warehouse sponsored a Venus Williams signing.

#9:  Find a new player to cheer for – we adopted 18-year-old Alexander “Sascha” Zverev from Germany this year.  Keep your eye on him to have some big wins in 2016.

Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, Hyeon Chung, Taylor Fritz, Kyle Edmund, Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe are presented as the ATP's Next Generation stars on Tuesday.
Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, Hyeon Chung, Taylor Fritz, Kyle Edmund, Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe are presented as the ATP’s Next Generation stars on Tuesday.

#10:  Family time.

Watching tennis together at this event was a bonding experience for this father-daughter.
Watching tennis together at this event was a bonding experience for this father-daughter.

For more information, and to purchase tickets to remaining sessions, visit www.bnpparibasopen.com, call 800-999-1585 or 760-200-8000, or visit the box office at 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA, 92210.

 About the BNP Paribas Open
The BNP Paribas Open is the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world, and is held annually at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The site underwent a significant expansion in 2014 that included a new permanent Stadium 2 with 8,000 seats and three restaurants, including world-renowned Nobu; practice courts for a total of 20 on-site, public Wi-Fi and more. The tournament is the only event to provide the Hawkeye line challenge system on all match courts, including qualifying rounds. In 2015, more than 456,000 people attended the event. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.bnpparibasopen.com, call 800-999-1585 or visit the Indian Wells Tennis Garden box office at 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA, 92210.

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