By J. Fred Sidhu
Latin tennis stars will be well represented at the upcoming Pacific Life Open, the largest professional tennis event on the West Coast.
The tournament, which is scheduled for March 3-16 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Riverside County’s Coachella Valley, will feature the top men and women in the world including players from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Spain. Argentina, which reached the Davis Cup semifinals last year, will be represented by Jose Acasuso, Agustin Calleri, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Mariano Zabaleta and 2002 Wimbledon finalist, David Nalbandian.
Spaniards have enjoyed past success in Indian Wells as Carlos Moya reached the finals of the 1999 event and Alex Corretja was the 2000 tournament champion.
Both players will return to Indian Wells this year and will be joined by fellow Spaniards, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Vicente, Tommy Robredo, Juan Carlos Ferrero and 2002 French Open champion, Albert Costa.
Other Latin players scheduled to compete in the men’s draw of the 2003 Pacific Life Open include Chileans, Marcelo Rios and Fernando Gonzalez.
Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten and Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador are also expected to play.
The women’s draw will feature Argentina’s Clarisa Fernandez, a surprise semifinalist at the 2002 French Open and Paola Suarez, one of the top doubles players in the world.
Magui Serna, Conchita Martinez, Virginia Ruano Pascual and Cristina Torrens Valero of Spain are entered in this year’s tournament. Martinez, a part-time Encinitas resident, is a former Wimbledon champion.
Colombia’s Fabiola Zuluaga is also expected to compete. She has been ranked as high as 31 in the world.
“The Pacific Life Open will once again be a showcase for the world’s most talented men’s and women’s players,” said Charlie Pasarell, tournament chairman. “Both the men’s and women’s fields have star power at the top as well as a solid base to top-20 players, ensuring exciting, competitive matches from the start all the way through the finals.”