BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden is every tennis fan’s dream come true. Indian Wells is located 30 minutes from Palm Spring, about 2 hours drive from Los Angeles Airport (LAX). Unlike other tennis tournaments and grand slams, Indian Wells Tennis Garden specifically cater for tennis fan’s need. With over 20 practices courts and the intimate atmosphere, tennis fans can watch their favorite tennis players practise up close and person.
When to Get There:
The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells usually start in early March. You should make up your plan, book flight, car and accommodation no later than November the previous year. When to get there depends on your preference. If you like to see your favorite players on the practice courts, you should come in during the early rounds. There are frequent early round upset, especially on the WTA side, so be sure to come in early to catch all the actions. If you like to sit inside the stadium and watch matches, you should get the mini package. The biggest bang for the buck will be the first weekend, usually the first and 2nd rounds where one ticket in Stadium give you 3 day matches. Night match tickets are sold separately.
You have the option to fly directly to Palm Spring airport(PSP) or LA (LAX). Here are the pros and cons:
If you are planning to fly directly to Palm Spring, make sure your rental car way ahead of time, like a year ahead of time and confirm your car a couple weeks before you arrive. One year, we arrived at Palm Spring and we were told that our rental has been cancelled because the rental company (Hertz) said they can’t confirm the reservation a few weeks before we arrive. We ended up waiting for a rental car return at the rental company. Luckily, one of the renter had some issue with his credit card, we ended up taking that car and had a free upgrade :D.
The moral of the story is, you are better off flying to LA, spend a few days at the tourist attractions like Universal Studio and Disneyland, go watch Lakers game or Clippers game. Then head up to Indian Wells. It’s nice to spend a sunny afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade, and check in at your hotel of choice later the day.
The gate opens at 10:00am at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and most of the big name players like to practice at the 10:00am sessions. The matches in stadium 1 and 2 both start at 11am. The traffic in LA could be unpredictable, it is better to drive up to Indian Wells the day before your ticket date. If you drive up to Indian Wells in the morning, you might miss the top players and the first match.
Rental cars are in short supply in Palm Spring area during the tournament weeks. It is partly due to the tennis tournament and partly because a lot of snow birds fly in from all over the east coast and Canada. They usually stay for weeks or months. Make sure you reserve at least half a year early and call them to confirm your reservation a few week before your arrival time. Otherwise, your best bet is to fly in to LA. There are plenty of rental in LA.
When you in Indian Wells, make sure you check out the La Quanta Resort. This is where the players practise off site and there is na annual charity event where top players and celebrities play exhibition matches. They offers the umpire chair for donors to bid. The highest bidder get to be the chair umpire for a match. You sure will have a fun filled afternoon.
The La Quinta Resort is very nice and so are the Marriott Shadow Ridge Series. But for the biggest bang for you buck, you should co-ordinate with the tennis players at your club to rent a house. Renting a 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms house with pool, outdoor grill area for a week and share among your tennis buddies. If could save you as much as 50% of the accommodation cost while stay at beautiful resort rental.
What to Watch?
If you want to catch the action up close or get your t-shirt signed by your favorite players, your best bet is to camp around practice court 1, 2 and 3. They usually arrange the top seeds to practise on these courts since they can accommodate the most number of spectators.