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Sports Then and Now

A Decade of Tennis Divas: The Last 10 Lady Champions at Indian Wells 14

Posted on March 05, 2011 by JA Allen

The tournament at Indian Wells gets underway on Monday March 7.

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells gets underway starting March 7.

It is easy to see that the 36-year old tournament has grown into a major attraction for tennis fans in this country as the stands and grounds become packed with spectators each year when March rolls around.

Some tennis aficionados have grown so enamored with the annual event they now call it California’s version of a fifth major.

This year’s Masters Series 1000 Tournament, whose inaugural event took place in 1976, is now held annually at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens after several location changes during its history.

It features both a men’s and a women’s draw with the top players attending, hoping to add this prestigious title to their respective resumes.

For the ladies field, the tournament gradually evolved into a top tier event. In the beginning it was non-sanctioned. It became, however, an official WTA Tour event in 1991.

Initially the women’s tournament preceded the men’s but in 1996 tournament sponsors along with the WTA and ATP decided to hold both competitions concurrently.

Unlike the men, the women have no player who has won this tournament three times.

In the women’s competition, however, seven players have won the tournament twice—Daniela Hantuchova 2002 and 2007, Kim Clijsters 2003 and 2005, Serena Williams 1999 and 2001, Lindsay Davenport 1997 and 2000, Steffi Graf 1994 and 1996, Mary Jo Fernandez 1993 and 1995 and Martina Navratilova 1990-1991.

Who will add to these totals in 2011?

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From Agassi to Ljubicic: The Last 10 Tennis Pros Who Ruled at Indian Wells 3

Posted on March 02, 2011 by JA Allen

BNP Paribas Open Tennis Tournament held annually at Indian Wells.

The BNP Paribas Open, a Masters Series 1000 Tournament held annually, has a rich and storied history.

Staged at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens, the setting is lushly picturesque with its 12 courts bathed in the warm California sun.

The tournament’s roots go back to 1976 with its name changing as often as its sponsors.

The popular tennis event, however, had its beginning at its current Indian Wells locale in 1987.

Boris Becker won the inaugural men’s tournament at Indian Wells defeating Stefan Edberg in the final 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

Since that time this premiere tennis tournament has attracted the top players from the men’s and women’s field.

Following upon the heels of the Australian Open, the one-two punch of Indian Wells and Miami, closes the early American hardcourt season, pressing the players toward the upcoming clay season.

To date, only three players in the tournament’s history have won the event more than twice–Americans Jimmy Connors, pre-Indian Wells, and Michael Chang who won the event in 1992 and then consecutively in 1996-1997.

Roger Federer is the only player to have won the tournament consecutively three times from 2004-2006.

The question looming on the horizon remains–who will win the title in 2011? Perhaps one of the seasoned veterans will reclaim his spot at the top or will one of the new up-and-coming players demand the trophy on the final Sunday?

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Indian Wells Turns into Upset City for Top WTA Players 4

Posted on March 16, 2010 by JA Allen
Maria Sharapova loses to Zheng Jie of China at Indian Wells tournament.

Maria Sharapova loses to Zheng Jie of China at Indian Wells tournament.

Justine Henin goes down to defeat in straight sets in her second round match! Top-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova loses her opening salvo!  Feisty Chinese player Jie Zheng clobbers favored Maria Sharapova!

Kim Clijsters is sent packing by Alisa Kleybanova in a 3rd round thriller!  Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ousts the No. 3 seed Victoria Azarenka!

It is like watching the air burst from a balloon, allowing the deflating latex to spiral around the room once in a final spurt of glory before coming to land limp and lifeless on the turf.

So go the WTA’s top seeds as well as those “come-back” players expected to win at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

To set the proper mood for this much-anticipated Masters Series event, top-ranked Serena and Venus Williams boycotted the tournament for the ninth consecutive year. Dinara Safina pulled out early with a persistent back injury.  That propelled world No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova into the top spot as the No. 1 seed as action got underway.

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The Williams Sister’s Boycott of Indian Wells: Year 9 13

Posted on March 13, 2010 by JA Allen

Tennis Junkie-logoAt the Indian Wells Masters Series Tennis Tournament in 2001, Venus Williams pulled out of a semifinal match against her sister Serena Williams just 4 minutes before the match was scheduled to get underway. The enthusiastic crowd, assembled and anxious to see the dynamic duo take the court, were upset and booed the sisters.

The match was to be televised, carried nationally by ESPN2.  When Venus and her father, Richard Williams, entered the stadium the next day to watch Serena in the final against Kim Clijsters, they were booed, as was Serena all during her match.

Even as Serena held the championship trophy aloft, the crowd voiced their displeasure with the Williams sisters, feeling that Venus’ withdrawal was a contrived way out of a difficult match for the close-knit family.  The crowd felt deceived and let down.  They let everyone know the extent of their displeasure.

To view the subsequent crowd reaction click here.

Was the crowd wrong?  Yes.  Players retire due to injury all the time.  To accuse Venus of this action was unjust.  At the time the Williams sisters were a rarity in the world of professional tennis.  They were both top-notch exciting tennis players capable of beating anyone else on tour.

Venus accepts the runner up trophy while Serena wins the Wimbledon Championship Trophy in 2003

Venus accepts the runner up trophy while Serena wins the Wimbledon Championship Trophy in 2003

But their matches against each other often lacked the fire of their matches against other professionals. Venus seemed far too tender and she rarely defeated Serena in the big finals, except at Wimbledon.  In those days there were often subtle comments made in certain media quarters, hinting that the outcome of their matches was pre-ordained.

It was, of course, all stuff and nonsense with no foundation.  It is not even logical that the sisters would engage in such subterfuge because there was no compelling reason to do so.  Sisters compete. From the day they are born until the day they die, sisters vie for attention and the top spot.  It is human nature.  Most siblings are life-long competitors.

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Federer To Nadal: Indian Wells Delivers the Best From Top to Bottom 2

Posted on March 10, 2010 by JA Allen
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal resume competition in Indian Wells.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal resume competition in Indian Wells.

Finally play gets underway this week for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells with a lineup that includes almost all the usual suspects.  Who will survive the test of time and layoffs to take the title this year?  That is the question lingering on everyone’s lips.

Roger Federer’s Quarter

There are some very intriguing match-ups possible in Federer’s quarter of the draw including a potential 3rd round clash with the No. 27 seed Marcos Baghdatis.  The Cypriot who found his way out of the deep freeze and into the semifinals at Dubai is well on his way to a legitimate comeback after spending much of 2009 on the injured reserve list.

Seeded players hoping to advance to week two of the tournament include Tommy Robredo, seeded No. 18 and the always dangerous Radek Stepanek who has been known to throw wrenches into the plans of many a higher seeded player.  Stepanek lives to wreak havoc with the draw and could meet Federer in the 4th round.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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