I FUCKING LOVE INDIAN WELLS.
It is hands down my favorite tournament of the year to attend, and yes, that includes the two Slams that I've been to. Why do I love it so much? Well there are the non-tennis related reasons. My two best friends in the world come with (Steph, aka @bellyflopz, and Kristin, aka DonkeyGrooming), Steph and I always have a fun time doing the 10+ hour drive (spoiler alert: Celine karaoke is involved), it's the one time a year that I get to have Roscoe's Chicken 'n Waffles, I get to meet up with all of my tennis-related California friends who are based in LA (Maria, Tracey, Victoria, Katie, Uncle Jamie, Aunt Cari, etc.), I get to work on my tan, and basically have 1-2 weeks of absolute vacation paradise in the warm California desert.
As for the actual, you know, tennis, Indian Wells will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first tennis tournament I ever attended and the first year that I went, Ana and Nole won. The next year, Bepa and Rafa won. Um...I'm going to go ahead and pretend last year didn't happen.
Aside from that, I still remember being absolutely flabergasted as to the access you get to the top players. Over time I've obviously come to learn that you can get this access at most non-Slam tournaments, but at the time it was totally shocking and I remember feeling like a kid at a candy store as I sat just 15 feet away from Ana as she practiced and almost got hit by an errant ball.
The city and the venue are so chill and so relaxing, and while I can understand why some players would find it boring, I side with those players who appreciate the chill atmosphere.
And then there's the practice field, which as far as I know, is unrivaled. It has been the scene of some of the more hilarious player observations/interactions of the past three years.
Of course, Indian Wells wouldn't be Indian Wells without Steph's amazing camera skillz. Over the years she's absolutely put Getty to shame. You'd think she was like a spy or trained in taking covert candid pictures or something. She's that good.
I'll be spending the next week counting down to Indian Wells, in the only way I know how. Stay tuned.