This is a guest post by Ashley Ndebele, who’s covering the BNP Paribas Open for African Tennis Now. I see you enjoyed Ashley’s Friday’s report, now let’s see what her Saturday at Indian Wells was like.
Let me start by saying it’s been scorching hot these past two days here in Indian Wells. Yes, it’s technically winter, but here in Southern California, it’s typical weather. Unfortunately for me, that means dealing with aggressive migraines due to heat exposure. You would think I would be wise enough to bring my migraine medicine with me but, no.
I arrived at the tennis grounds in time for the day kick-off. I was looking forward to player-sighting and snapping some selfies, but the moment I stepped foot on the grounds, my migraine made an announcement that outdoors were prohibited today. So, instead of outdoor hunting, I decided to be a little creative.
The plan was to sneak into the players lounge and ask for selfies. I knew my media credentials (more about that later) didn’t permit me to cross the border, but I took advantage of a busy security guard and sneaked through. Well, I would love to say that it was a great plan, but that would be a lie. I didn’t anticipate to be greeted by another security guard, who told me that I had the wrong color credentials. I gracefully acted innocent and turned around with a tail between my legs.
I then came up with plan B; to sneak into the fitness center. I was immediately stopped by another attentive security guard who informed me that I had the wrong color media credentials.
Speaking of media credentials, I applied for the BNP Paribas Open 2015 credentials and they were gracious enough to grant me a two day media pass—yesterday was my first rodeo attending an event as a member of media. I was happy to find out that the laminated card came with quite a few perks: access to two huge Xerox media rooms (maybe more), unlimited refreshments and snacks, entrance to all stadiums, lockers, $16 a day per diem (maybe more for some), etc.
I did catch some tennis action. First up was a little bit of Serbian Ana Ivanovic‘s match, one of the first matches of the day. She was relegated to Stadium 4. That didn’t affect her as she won the match 6-3, 6-1 against Kazakh qualifier (born in Russia) Yulia Putintseva. Ana is quite a tall girl, but surprisingly not intimidating. It’s probably the permanent smile plastered across her face.
Up next was Danish Caroline Wozniacki‘s match against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on Stadium 3. I caught the last bit of it. This was no walk in the park for Caro. Ons wasn’t in the giving mood, making Caro work extra hard for the ticket to the third round. Caro won it in two tough sets 7-6(3), 6-4.
Russia’s Maria Sharapova also played today; her match was on Stadium 1 against Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer. I watched it from the media room’s balcony, a perfect vantage point—I wanted to take a picture of it, but my iPhone died earlier in the day and since I forgot to bring a charger, I wasn’t able to. This media room is inside Stadium 1. When the announcer introduced the players, I applauded, but was immediately told by one of the staff that media is not allowed to applaud out here. It does make sense, I guess since it might show them being biased. Maria ran away with the first set, but Yanina gave Maria a run for her money in the second set. Maria took the match 6-1, 7-5. I didn’t catch Victoria Azarenka‘s match though, since she and Maria were playing at the same time–I didn’t want to give up my comfortable seat in the balcony.
This was truly an amazing experience for me. Larry Ellison has done a wonderful job transforming this event into an unofficial 5th slam. As I hang up my media credentials, I have two big thank-yous to make:
I would like to thank Marija and Women’s Tennis Blog’s community for joining me in this beautiful adventure. Let’s do this again soon! And please help me support African tennis, which is suffering right now.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Anita Stahl, who I made friends with yesterday while lounging in the media room. Since I had no means of taking pictures today, Anita was kind enough to let me use the pics in this post. I’m giving her the photo credit.