Local Charities Win Big at McEnroe Challenge

©2014 Billie Weiss/BNP Paribas Open

A glistening new Stadium 2 opened Saturday night at the BNP Paribas Open with the McEnroe Challenge for Charity presented by Esurance, featuring four former Grand Slam winners in a night of legendary tennis.

John McEnroe kicked off the historic night with a ceremonious point played with tournament owner Larry Ellison.

The seven-time major champion then faced two-time BNP Paribas Open winner Jim Courier in a singles match, which Courier won 6-4, 5-7, 10-5. Courier’s victory earned $25,000 for the Family YMCA of the Desert.

Later, in doubles, McEnroe paired with former partner Peter Fleming to face Courier and Rick Leach. Courier/Leach won a highly contested battle 8-5 in a pro set.
In total, $80,000 was doled out to the local charities. Courier/Leach won $25,000 for Childhelp while $15,000 was given to both the War Casualty Fund (McEnroe) and Eisenhower Medical Center (Fleming/McEnroe).

Earlier in the evening a mural of McEnroe was unveiled near Stadium Plaza. The piece of art is the work of renowned artist Mike Sullivan and is the first of a series that will include BNP Paribas Open champions and greats of the sport.

Read more about the McEnroe Challenge for Charity and the opening of Stadium 2 AFTER THE JUMP.
“This is a first for me,” McEnroe told the crowd in attendance.

A spirited crowd attended the evening matches in Stadium 2, which was completed in just over 10 months after ground was broken for an expansion project during the 2013 BNP Paribas Open.

The 8,000-seat venue includes three full-service restaurants: Nobu, Chop House and Piero’s PizzaVino. A 19,000-square-foot shade structure was also added in the expansion, which includes a new entry at the East Gate and thousands of parking spaces.

Plenty of that parking was in use Saturday night as Challenge formally opened play in Stadium 2, which will see its first action Monday with the beginning of the women’s qualifying draw.

McEnroe was his usual expressive self on the court, using Hawkeye on his opening serve (against Ellison) and joking with the crowd throughout the night.
“Maybe wait until I hit a pretty good shot!” He joked at one point when the audience applauded a Courier error.

In doubles, he and Fleming – a team that won 52 career doubles titles together, including seven Grand Slams – played toe-to-toe with Courier/Leach only to get broken on a stealth lob winner from Leach.

“I want to savor this moment because if I beat John twice in one night at his own event, I’m not getting invited back again,” ribbed Courier before he and Leach closed the match out.