A Writer’s Take On Indian Wells Tennis

The BNP Paribas Open has expanded its Spanish-language coverage in 2014 and Rodrigo Azurmendi is reporting from on site. Here, Rodrigo looks at the evolution of the tournament since he first set foot in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2005.

This is definitely not the same Indian Wells Tennis Garden that I saw in 2005, the first time I came to the BNP Paribas Open as a teenager.

Back then, I was still in high school and still adjusting to a new country and how things are around this part of the world.

The tournament felt big, spacious and comfortable. The grounds were welcoming and the stadiums had a vibe I liked. I was quite impressionable, yet from my experience of tennis TV I could tell that this wasn’t just any event.

Fast forward to 2014 – nearly 10 years later – and all those adjectives still apply, only now I can multiply them by 100. That might be only a slight exaggeration.

More practice courts have popped up. Parking has become faster and easier. Even the weather, something impossible to control, has gotten better – at least it feels that way. There’s something to be said about watching a match and the sunset at the same time and having a small breeze cool you after a warm spring day in the desert.

My favorite change around the grounds are the information towers that tell me where and when my favorite players are practicing throughout the day. In years past this allowed my friends and I to plan accordingly, camping out for Roger FedererJustine Heninor David Nalbandian, while discovering players in the early part of their careers whom I would later watch on Stadium 1.

(PHOTO: Wawrinka after practice with fans)

Azurmendi, with Stanislas Wawrinka to his right, attend the Indian Wells tournament in 2009. Photo courtesy Rodrigo Azurmendi

As a writer for the website, the experience in 2014 has been twice as good, and not just because I’m now on the inside.

The mobile app allows people access to practice schedules even before they leave their homes. It’s no longer necessary to show up first thing in the morning for fear of missing your favorite player if it happens to be on a day you know he or she is not scheduled to play a match.

It’s easy to see why players are happy to be here: from the number of practice courts to every match court having Hawk-Eye, those amenities translate into their play and their experiences with the fans, possibly generating an extra autograph signed or another picture taken.

I’d say the brand new Stadium 2, the extra parking spots and all the other little perks — Have you seen the phone charging stations? We writers love them — are enough. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the tournament.