Indian Wells First Week Round Up, by James Handal

          The first week of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells has been an exciting week.  Many of the top tennis players are still in the draw. America’s up and coming Donald Young, a qualifier, defeated Britain’s Andy Murray, ranked # 5 in the world, while last year’s defending champion Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia fell to Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro. Canada’s Milos Raonic upset America’s Mardy Fish, while top players Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, John Isner and local Santa Monica resident Sam Querrey  still compete for the title. On the women’s side, second seed Kim Clijsters is moving ahead and is a crowd favorite.

              Many special events including Kids Day, the National 9/11 Flag Display, and Salute to Heroes occurred during the first week. "Rally, Round-up, Recycle," a new program designed to recycle tennis balls, collected more than 100,000 tennis balls the first weekend. There are still more activities for fans during the final weekend of the tournament, March 19 and March 20.

            Malibu’s Larry Ellison, owner of the BNP Paribas Open and the Malibu Racquet Club, could be spotted courtside in the first row watching Nadal and Federer. This year, he made a lot of great changes to the tournament. In addition to all of the match courts having Hawk-eye replay technology which allows players to challenge line calls, there are electronic boards which show when designated players are practicing, so fans can try to get autographs. Two clay courts were removed to make room for four additional practice courts and a new food and drink area called Plaza de Corona is centered in the middle of the grounds so fans can stop there and watch video displays of live matches.

             The Bryan Brothers, whose recent fundraiser at the Malibu Racquet Club raised money for the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Care Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, are seeded #1 in mens’ doubles and hope to take the title.For more information and tickets, visit www.bnpparibasopen.com

James has been a ball boy at this tournament.

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