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Snapshot

23 Mar 2015
On Wednesday evening, March 18, halfway through the final week of play at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open, storm clouds and gusty desert winds swept across the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. They came and went with minimal impact—much like the highly publicized return of No. 1-ranked Serena Williams to Indian Wells for the first time since 2001. After winning four matches, Williams withdrew from the tournament on Friday, March 20, shortly before her scheduled semifinal meeting with No. 3-ranked Simona Halep, due to a knee injury. When asked how emotional it was for her to withdraw, Williams said, “I was really, really disappointed. I was really down. I was really sad.” Her mood brightening, she continued: “But then I thought, ‘You know what, Serena? This is just an opportunity to be able to come back … and do better next year.’” So she’s already planning to return in 2016? “I…
16 Mar 2015
The first week of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open delivered no major surprises on the courts—but it did deliver sweltering temperatures for fans and players alike, as well as record attendance figures, thanks to the return of Serena Williams to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the first time since 2001. Almost all of the top-seeded players in both the men’s and women’s singles draws are still competing, while four American players made it into the second week of both draws—exciting news for local fans: On the women’s side, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe and Madison Keys are still alive, while on the men’s side, survivors include John Isner, Donald Young, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock. The competition will heat up as the tournament moves into its late rounds this week—and the weather forecast calls for continued high temperatures, which makes staying cool and hydrated a challenge for everyone.…
14 Mar 2015
The last time current world No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, winner of 19 Grand Slam tennis titles, stepped onto the Stadium 1 court at the BNP Paribas Open was in 2001. She was 19 and about to play for the women’s singles championship. “I was looking to take another title. I was ready,” Williams wrote last month in TIME when she announced her decision to return to the BNP Paribas Open after a 14-year self-imposed exile. “As I walked out onto the court, the crowd immediately started jeering and booing. In my last match, the semifinals, I was set to play my sister, but Venus had tendinitis and had to pull out. Apparently, that angered many fans.” After 14 years of healing after that unfortunate, racially tinged incident in 2001, Williams walked back onto that court at 7 p.m., Friday, March 13, with determination and trepidation. Those in the traditionally late-arriving…
11 Mar 2015
The 11th Annual Desert Smash delivered a day full of expected humor and generosity—as well as some unexpected last-minute program changes—on Tuesday, March 10. World No. 1 ATP pro Novak Djokovic, who has contributed to the hilarity and star power in previous years, was a no-show. Instead, No. 20-ranked John Isner stepped into the program, joining No. 31-ranked Fernando Verdasco in the final match of the day. Earlier No. 43-ranked Sam Querrey, a repeat volunteer himself, partnered with pro Mardy Fish to deliver the most entertaining real tennis of the day, as they took on the No. 1-ranked doubles team of Mike and Bob Bryan. On the women’s side, WTA No. 7 Genie Bouchard was unexpectedly joined by No. 47-ranked Daniela Hantuchova in the opening singles match, which offered the most purely competitive tennis display. In the middle two matches, comedy moved to center court at the La Quinta Resort…
10 Mar 2015
Hardcore tennis fans arrived early on Monday, March 9, to take advantage of the free-entry policy in effect during the first and second days of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. While there was a lot of tennis action for them to enjoy, not much of it involved the sport’s big names. Some of the game’s stars—like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Serena Williams—have not yet appeared to prep for the tournament, which begins main-draw play on Wednesday, March 11. The big names who had arrived—including Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantukova—worked out on the main stage of Stadium 1 surrounded by thousands of empty seats, because the doors to that court were locked all day, while thousands of diehard fans roamed the pathways nearby. In an email, the Independent asked J. Fred Sidhu, of the BNP Paribas…
27 Jan 2015
The 2015 Humana Challenge Championship was still up for grabs as the last group, containing the sole leader, Bill Haas, came down the 18th fairway on the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West in La Quinta. Waiting, watching and keeping loose on the driving range were five players, including Idyllwild’s Brendan Steele, who had finished their rounds tied at 21 under par—one shot behind Haas. “The tournament’s definitely not over from my perspective,” Steele said as he waited for more than an hour to see if his 21-under total would get him into a playoff. “With the water on the last couple holes, anybody can make a bad swing at any time, so you just kind of hang out and see what’s happening. I can’t act like, ‘Hey, I did a good job, but it’s not enough, and I’m going to go home.’ I’ve got to be ready, just…
27 Jan 2015
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When the Independent interviewed local professional skateboarder Eddie “El Gato” Elguera about his inaugural El Gato Classic, he said one goal of the event was to “honor the past and champion the future.” That’s exactly the vibe that the event at the Palm Springs Skatepark had last weekend, on Jan. 24 and 25. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, a large crowd gathered around the Nude Bowl replica for the Legends Jam, which lasted into the afternoon and led into the Vert Demo in the Palm Springs High School parking lot. Many legendary names were present, including Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Micke Alba, Jim Gray, Scott Foss and Tony Magnusson. Most of the Legends Jam was announced by Christian Hosoi, who had an injured knee and therefore only skated briefly. Highlights included a shirtless David Hackett landing his trademark “Hackett Slash” in the bowl; Steve Caballero’s numerous attempts (with plenty of…
24 Jan 2015
On Thursday and Friday, Jan. 22 and 23, the crowds grew in size and fervor at the 56th Annual Humana Challenge—and for local fans, there was an unusual bonus, as several local PGA Tour pros were in pursuit of the winner’s payday of $1,026,000. La Quinta resident Scott McCarron and Palm Desert’s Byron Smith were hovering near par after two days, well behind the leaders. However, Brendan Steele of Idyllwild finished Friday’s round at 9 under par, six shots behind leader Matt Kuchar. “I’m happy with how I’ve been playing,” Steele told the Independent after Friday’s solid round. “I was a little disappointed with the last six holes today, but overall, I’m really happy with every part of my game.” Although he and his wife are staying in a condo near the courses this week to cut down the commuting time, he recognized a lot of familiar faces behind the…