By J. Fred Sidhu
American tennis stars, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, will headline the 2003 Pacific Life Open.
In fact, more than 200 of the world’s top players will make their way to the Coachella Valley in Riverside County to play in the tennis tournament, which has become one of the largest in the United States.
The event, scheduled to begin Monday, will be played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The $75 million facility features a 16,100-seat main tennis stadium as well as two smaller stadiums.
The Pacific Life Open consists of a $2.45 million men’s tournament and a $2.1 million women’s event. In addition to Sampras and Agassi, other Americans scheduled to compete include Andy Roddick and James Blake. Defending champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia is also entered.
Among the entrants in the women’s tournament are Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles of the United States as well as Belgium’s Kim Clijsters and defending champion Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.
“This event provides a tremendous opportunity for sports fans to witness great tennis in one of the premier sporting facilities in the world,” said tournament director Charlie Pasarell.
While spectators will have plenty of tennis to watch on the courts, there will also be lots of action off the courts in the Tennis Garden Village.
A Family Weekend is planned for March 7-9, with ticket discounts for families. Also, a special Tennis Zone with games will be open to kids every day of the tournament.
Fans will have the opportunity to meet and talk with television commentator and tennis journalist Bud Collins at 11 a.m. from March 7 to 15. Collins will discuss the day’s matches and take questions.
Player autograph sessions also will be held throughout the tournament. The daily schedule will vary.
For bargain-hunters, the women’s qualifying rounds, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, will offer free admission.
Pacific Life Open tennis tournament
Monday through March 16
Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78-200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells
Directions to Indian Wells from San Diego: Go north on Interstate 15, north on State Route 215, east on state Route 60, east on Interstate 10 to Palm Springs; continue east on I-10 to the Washington Street exit, go south on Washington Street, go west on Miles Avenue to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden parking lot.
Monday, March 3 to Tuesday, March 4: Women’s qualifying rounds.
Wednesday, March 5 to Sunday, March 16: Women’s main draw.
Saturday, March 8 to Sunday, March 9: Men’s qualifying rounds.
Monday, March 10 to Sunday, March 16, Men’s main draw.
Matches will begin daily at 10 a.m., March 3-14.
Evening Sessions begin at 6:30 p.m., March 10-14.
Saturday’s men’s semifinals begin at 11 a.m. and Sunday’s finals start at 9:30 a.m.