I was at the Indian Well Tennis Gardens for the BNP Paribas tournament the other day, but this was as close as got to any real tennis. Let me explain.
The BNP Paribas Open is the current incarnation of the tennis tournament that takes place every March in Indian Wells, which is just down the road from La Quinta. I am fortunate that I work in a place that many of our members purchase season tickets for the event, and, if they cannot use a ticket on a certain date, are happy to give it to someone who will appreciate it. That is what happened this week. I was given two tickets to the evening session, plus a valet parking pass.
The evening session is scheduled to start at 7:00 (or as it is phrased “no earlier that 7:00,” and would kick off with Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani. The second match of the evening would be Novak Djokovic vs. Sam Querry, which would start after the first match was completed. The seats were really good, center court, five rows from the front.
Alan and I arrived around 7:30. Because I had come straight from work, we hadn’t eaten, so we discussed our plan when we arrived at the Tennis Gardens. We decided to find our seats, watch the tennis for a while, then figure out something to eat. When we arrived at the entry gate, though, we were turned away. The man told us that we couldn’t enter until 8:30. Huh? We were confused, so we stopped by an information booth to ask what was going on. We were told that the afternoon matches had gone long, and we would not be allowed into the main stadium until the Rafael Nadal/Ernests Gulbis match was complete, as that was part of the early sessions. Okay, change of plan. We decided to eat first, watch the Nadal match on the big screen, and go from there. As we walked toward the food court, we took a peek at the television. It was already about 7:40 and the match was tied 3-3 in the first set.
After walking the length of the food court to see if there was anything that we could eat, I finally ordered a Spring Roll with peanut sauce. The young lady that served us was on the ball, warning me that the dressing on the otherwise vegan Papaya Salad was creamy and might have milk it it. When I thanked her for her awareness of what vegan actually is, she told us that many people had been asking over the past week about vegetarian and vegan options. Do you think that maybe the restaurants might get wise and offer these things next year? Well, I’m not holding my breath.
We found a seat where we could watch Nadal’s match. I feel kind of bad that when he lost the first set I was rooting against him in the second. I like Rafael Nadal, but I just wanted the match to be over so that we could have our turn in the stadium. After we finished eating, we took a walk, checked out the various shops, then, at about 9:00, saw that Nadal had won the second set. The third set had just begun when we decided to give it up and head home. I had to work at 5:30 the next morning, and we were both tired. At least getting the car was easy..just walking to the exit and handing the valet our ticket.
We found out the next day that the match did not finish up until about 9:45. They then had to empty the stadium and bring in the evening ticket holders. I heard it was about 10:30 before the next match started. I was home asleep by then. We guessed that Djokovic’s match must have started after midnight. You’d have to be a better tennis fan that I to stick that one out.
All together, our “free” tickets cost us about $30 for pretty bad food, plus a $5 tip for the valet (and Alan bought a hat, which, like all the clothing at the event was overpriced). On the bright side, it was a beautiful evening, in the 70s even at 9:00 when we left. I understand that it is tennis, and there is really nothing that can be done. It just is what it is. Still, I feel disappointed that we missed seeing some world class tennis being played. Maybe next year.
Do you enjoy watching tennis? Have you been to a professional tournament?