The origins of Indian Wells

The big American event at the beginning of the 70s , in Tucson , Arizona.

In 1976 it moved towards Palm Springs area . It's a super tournament with points and dollars in abundance .

It will change location several times but will remain in the Californian desert .

I would like to add a few articles to remember that time . If I find them on the network .
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The Greatest Moments in Sports
With top-flight golf and tennis events, the eyes of worldwide television audiences have long been fixed on the desert. We tapped the memories of sports enthusiasts who have lived here long enough to have seen it all.
By Sheila Grattan

Arnold Palmer

Photography from Palm Springs Life Archives

The match on a bone-chilling December night at Mission Hills Country Club continued until almost 11 p.m., and more bodies huddled inside the heated press tent than in a cluster high in the stands.

The West Coast’s first Davis Cup final in 1978 still gives Tommy Tucker chuckles and chills of a different sort.

“It was put together in less than five weeks when England won the semifinals,” recalls the club’s tennis pro emeritus. “We had the stands already up from the Colgate Series Championships. We had the support of then Colgate CEO David Foster, club pro Dennis Ralston, and the tennis community.”

The thrill of landing the finals of a worldwide tennis event at the relatively new venue was seismic. The U.S. Davis Cup roster boasted John McEnroe and Brian Gottfried in singles and Stan Smith and Bob Lutz in doubles. Organizers expected high-quality play, but hosting the underdog U.K. crowd was a priceless experience on many fronts.

Barely 100 spectators — mostly fortified and wildly cheering Brits waving Union Jacks — braved the chill of the final match between Gottfried and England’s Buster Mottram.

When Mottram defeated Gottfried in five sets, the roar from the stands was fitting of the fair-weather fans. Most of the Fleet Street sportswriters, in spite of also being well fortified, covered the event in brief sprints to center court. When the match ended, the crowded and already noisy press tent erupted. Scribes from some of the Queen’s most prestigious newspapers stood on press tables, libation in one hand and phone in the other, as they screamed the good news to their press rooms over the pond.

It was a different era in tennis, when top professionals would support the Davis Cup for their country and colorful characters were quintessential to the image of sports media on every continent, Tucker recalls.

Charles Pasarell, co-founder of Indian Wells Tennis Garden, still holds the 1969 Wimbledon record for the longest match: a 112-game, five-hour-and-12-minute marathon that he lost to Pancho Gonzalez. His three top sports moments in the valley, not surprisingly, include two representing years of personal dogged diligence and are measured against world-class tennis achievements.

Nurturing the Pacific Life Open from its 1978 genesis as American Airlines Tennis Games and Congoleum Classic at Mission Hills Country Club through venues at La Quinta Hotel Tennis Club and Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Pasarell — with his partner Ray Moore — risked everything to build the West Coast’s tennis granddaddy of them all: the 16,000-seat Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which opened in 2000.

It was almost 20 years from the time Pasarell began incubating major tennis with the angst of keeping sponsors, top-ranked players, and sanctioning organizations on board when he was able to take his events to an international level.

“It was 1997, when the men and women were combined, making our event at Hyatt Grand Champions only one of six events in the world,” Pasarell recalls. With Michael Chang reigning over the Newsweek Champions Cup and Lindsay Davenport taking the State Farm Evert Cup, Pasarell bridged a sports gender marketing gap with solid business sense.

He could have busted a racquet string last year when the combined events, presented as the Pacific Life Open since 2002, “broke the 300,000 attendance mark, making the event the first Grand Slam tennis event to achieve that,” Pasarell says. The tournament eclipses other desert sporting events by more than half. One match affected Pasarell and other tennis observers on a deeply visceral level.

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi played the Monday night final, a match that took on the air and excitement of a heavyweight prize fight,” Pasarell recalls. Sampras defeated Agassi 7-5, 6-3, 7-5.

Tucker looks at Mission Hills’ tennis history in eras rather than singular events — and with gratitude for his timing. “When Dennis Ralston recruited me to Mission Hills in the 1970s, I had no idea I would experience the golden years of modern tennis and still be able to associate with earlier greats who were still with us at that time,” he says.

Besides the Davis Cup finals, Tucker was a key operative in the American Airlines and Congoleum Classic matches, the Colgate Series Championships, and the Colgate Women’s Masters. He also began his long relationship as director of corporate tennis events for Dinah Shore’s annual golf party.

“Those were the days when players were approachable,” Tucker says. “They didn’t have layers of managers, handlers, and publicists between them and officials, the media, and the fans. They weren’t so packaged. The fans loved their personalities; and for the players, it was more about love of the game than the money.”

Tucker says there will never be a lineup of great tennis personalities like there were in the 1970s and 1980s at Mission Hills. Rod Laver, who twice won the Grand Slam title, was a regular and totally unassuming, as were McEnroe, Gonzalez, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Ilie Nastasi, Ivan Lendl, Jose Higueras, Roscoe Tanner, Ken Rosewall, and Virginia Wade.

During one Congoleum Classic, Tucker suggested a reunion of tennis greats from the golden era, which could be called the platinum era for the gutsy players who kept the sport viable on a shoestring and sheer devotion to the game. Long-retired pioneers, including Alice Marble and Harry Hopman, came from all over and dined as guests of Congoleum one magical night at Le Vallauris in Palm Springs.
Courtship Among the Pros
By Gloria Greer

Paul Newman.

Before Alice Marble won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon, she represented the United States in France in 1934 and collapsed on the tennis court. She was sent to a sanatorium for a few months and told not to play tennis, but she defied orders and went to the Racquet Club in Palm Springs to build her strength. She worked in the club’s tennis shop between practice sessions on the court. When temperatures soared, she remained cool on the court by putting a head of lettuce in her cap. In 1936, she won the national singles and mixed doubles championships. In 1939, she broke world records when she won the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

From the start, junior competition was important to Charlie Farrell, who encouraged and hosted young players every year. As founder, owner, and later managing director of the Racquet Club, Farrell took pride in the fact that, when the club had only two tennis courts, Donald Budge and Marble practiced there. Budge went on to sweep Wimbledon in 1937, winning the singles, men’s doubles with Gene Mako, and mixed doubles crown with Marble. He was the youngest man in history to complete the Grand Slam (four majors in one year) when he won the French Open in 1938, two days before his 23rd birthday and went on to hold the No. 1 spot for five years.

More of the world’s No. 1 tennis players hit balls at the Racquet Club: In addition to Budge and Marble, Ellsworth Vines in the 1930s; Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, and Pancho Segura in the 1940s and ’50s; Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Stan Smith, Bob Lutz, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Pancho Gonzales, Arthur Ashe, and Billie Jean King in the 1960s and ’70s.

“It was so beautiful at the Racquet Club — just a great place to play tennis and give exhibition matches,” says Smith, ranked No. 1 in the world in 1972 and winner of the 1971 U.S. Open and 1972 Wimbledon championships. His son, Ramsey, now tennis coach at Duke University, competed during tournaments that helped junior players increase their tennis rankings.

Abby and Steve Solomon were at the club when Smith, Lutz, Connors, Riggs, and Ashe were there. “It was terrific. All those great players would put on an exhibition match in the morning and then in the afternoon they would play with us,” Steve Solomon says, calling the Racquet Club the finest tennis club he has ever seen “anywhere in the world.”

“Julie Copeland, tennis hostess, had a system no one had,” he says. “You would be booked on the court for an hour and a half. You could play two sets, break for lunch, and then go to another court and play two more sets. When the extra courts were added, they were all around the dining room and pool area. You never had to wait for hours to get on a court, as in other clubs.” The Solomons’ son, Ken, often accompanied his parents at the club and became such an avid tennis fan that he’s now chairman and CEO of the Tennis Channel.

Barbara Sinatra watched Connors, Gonzales, Segura, and Charlie Pasarell on the courts and occasionally played tennis with them. She remains a close friend of Pasarell, a friendship that started on the Racquet Club courts. “You know I was very young,” she says, “and I never really realized how great they were.” Pasarell, a top player in the 1960s and ’70s, opened the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with Raymond Moore in 2000 and, until recently, was tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open.

Connors was a student at UCLA when he came to the club during junior tournaments, but he returned often. “Most of the players who started playing at the club as juniors returned as professional title holders. It was almost as if they grew up with us,” Copeland was fond of saying.

There were four matches played annually at the Racquet Club: the Senior Invitational for members 45 and over and 55 and over, the Charles Farrell Invitational for top players from Southern California colleges who used the results of the tournament toward their national rankings, the Blue Ribbon Tournament, and the Racquet Club Invitational.

The Davis Cup North American preliminary round between the United States and Mexico was played at the Racquet Club in 1975. “There were American and Mexican flags all over and bleachers set up on two courts overlooking the third court where the action was,” Solomon recalls. Smith and his partner, Bob Lutz, represented the Americans and were defeated by the Mexicans. “Despite the disappointment of losing, it still was great tennis and very exciting. I will never forget it,” Solomon says.

Emerson, winner of championships at Wimbledon and the French Open and six-time Australian Open champion, and Rosewall, former No. 1 player in the world and holder of eight Grand Slam titles, competed in the National Tennis League at the Racquet Club, a tournament sponsored by members in 1972. In addition to men’s singles and double matches, members Dinah Shore, Barbara Marx (now Sinatra), Hazel Kunody, and Marge Jackson played in a mixed doubles foursome in the same tournament that included Segura, U.S. Pro Champion for three consecutive years, 1950-1952.

A 10-game round robin at the club found Roscoe Tanner, then No. 1 collegiate player and soon to be No. 4 in the world, beat Grand Slam winner Ashe to win $2,500. “I remember Arthur flew into Palm Springs and the airline lost his luggage,” recalls longtime Racquet Club member Nelda Linsk. “He played in borrowed clothes and a racquet that he borrowed from tennis hostess Julie Copeland. No wonder he didn’t win!”

One of the club’s most colorful players was Riggs. In 1972, he won the 55 and over men’s singles in the Senior Invitational, but lost in the 45 and over division of the same tournament. In 1975, two years after losing the highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” $100,000 exhibition match to Billie Jean King, Riggs returned to the Racquet Club to play in another club tournament. He came in second and happily walked away with $1,000.
Once Upon A Time In The Desert

Autore: Roby Marchesani
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The spectacular scenery of the Californian desert in Palm Springs, southeast of Los Angeles, is home to what has become known as the Fifth Slam. This is, of course, not an official designation, but more of a colloquial one. Still, if there was any tournament worthy of becoming known as the fifth Slam, Indian Wells is it. It is the biggest, most popular and richest tournament outside of the sport’s four premier events.

To drive this point home, the organizers this year put the Hawkeye system on each and every court, even those used for qualifying. That is truly incredible, seeing as many tournaments only have Hawkeye on their showcase courts. This Californian paradise was created by Larry Ellison who, thanks to his fortune estimated to be around $56 billion, has spared no expense in turning the event into one unmatched anywhere else on the Tour. Miami was for a while considered to be the Fifth Slam, from the 1980s to the early 2000s, but since that time the two tournaments have swapped fortunes, thanks in no small part to Mr. Ellison’s lavish spending on the venue.

That being said, even when it was not as prestigious as it is today, Indian Wells was still a very important stop on the tennis calendar. Since the first edition of the event, held in 1976, it has been one of the favorite places for the world’s top players to showcase their talents.

1976-'86: The early years

The Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage played host to the Indian Wells event for the first five years of its existence. The inaugural tournament in 1976 was spectacularly rich, both in terms of prize money and the quality of the players it attracted. Along with the Houston Masters and Dallas WCT, Indian Wells was one of only three tournaments to rival the likes of Roland Garros in terms of the riches it offered. Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe and Bjorn Borg all played that year, lending an air of prestige to proceedings.

Borg and Rod Laver contested a fantastic quarter-final, while three of the top four seeds reached the semi-finals. In the end it was Jimmy Connors who came out on top, beating Roscoe Tanner in the final, 6-4, 6-4. The following year, the event’s status remained high, and another American won the title. This time, it was Brian Gottfried who won in a comeback effort against Guillermo Vilas, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In 1978 and 1979 Roscoe Tanner lifted the trophy, while the last edition at Mission Hills (1980) saw an extremely unusual outcome: a complete rainout. The tournament only got to the semi-final stage when it was called off, with Connors, Fleming, Teacher and Mayer all splitting the remaining prize money evenly.

Our story takes an important turn in 1981, when the event moved to the historic resort of La Quinta, only a few miles from the previous venue. The new location was beautiful, but it was clear that it would only be a temporary home for the tournament, which was growing bigger and more popular every year. Tournament founder Charlie Pasarell had already scouted out some other locations, and construction soon started on the future venue. The first four editions of the Indian Wells tournament in La Quinta, from 1981 to 1984, saw two victories for Jimmy Connors (in 1981 against Ivan Lendl and in 1984 against Yannick Noah) and one each for Noah (1983) and José Higueras (1982). It was a particularly important win for Higueras, since it put an end to a 44-match win streak for Ivan Lendl.

In 1985 the Indian Wells tournament became known as the "Pilot Pen Classic," which also saw it receive a significant increase in the prize pool. Along with the Grand Slams and some other prestigious events, Indian Wells joined the Grand Prix circuit, and was officially regarded as one of the most important tennis tournaments in the world.

1987-present: A new home

Construction of the complex was finally completed in 1986, with the 1987 edition being the first to feature the new venue. Boris Becker won the first two events at the new location, and as the 1990s dawned the tournament was chosen to form part of the Masters series. This was a group of tournaments, nine at the time, which comprised the most important events outside of the Grand Slams. Miami was the crown jewel in this group of tournaments, but plans were already afoot that would allow Indian Wells to overtake Miami as the premier Masters event.

Almost as soon as the new venue was completed in 1987 the tournament directors were looking further afield for the future of the event. A new venue, with vast potential for growth, was soon chosen, and construction finally finished in 2000. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden was a truly modern venue, and featured a Center Court that could hold 26 000 fans. Every year Indian Wells gained ground against Miami until, in 2006, it had finally caught up. 270 000 fans flocked to California that year, while 282 000 went to Miami. The next season saw Indian Wells overtake its east-coast rival as the most popular tennis tournament outside of the Grand Slams. In 2007 the event attracted 300 000 fans, as opposed to the 282 000 fans that descended on Florida.

When Larry Ellison took over the event in 2009, the gap grew ever larger. Large-scale renovations and improvements were undertaken, with the addition of extra courts and other facilities forming the core of the new Garden. In 2012 Indian Wells became the first non-Slam event to guarantee $1 million in prize money to tournament winner, for both the men and the women. Indian Wells had truly become the “Grand Slam of the West.” And with Larry Ellison’s enthusiasm and vast fortune backing up the event, the future seems brighter than ever for this jewel in the Californian desert.

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Published: February 22, 1982
LA QUINTA, Calif., Feb. 21—
Yannick Noah of France ended Ivan Lendl's winning streak at 44 matches today with a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory in the final of the $200,000 Congoleum Classic tennis tournament.

Lendl's streak was six short of the modern record of 50 set by Guillermo Villas of Argentina in 1977. He had not lost since Vitas Gerulaitis beat him in the fourth round of the United States Open last September.

''I just had a horrible day,'' Lendl said. ''You have many bad days but it just depends on when it comes. If it comes in the final when you play a good player, he can take advantage of it. But I'm sure I'm going to lose many more in my career.''

Noah, who like Lendl is 21 years old, felt he had the advantage in being the challenger. ''His streak didn't put any pressure on me,'' he said. ''The pressure was on him.''

Lendl, who had won eight straight tournaments, is ranked third in the world and Noah is 17th. Noah earned $32,000 for winning his first tournament this year.

Although Lendl controlled the first set at the La Quinta Hotel Tennis Club by breaking serve twice, Noah changed the momentum by going to the net more often. He broke serve at the start of the second set and held the upper hand to even the match.

In the third set each held until the 11th game. Noah attacked the net successfully to break at 15. In the 12th game, Noah had to survive two break points. The match ended when Lendl netted his backhand from deep in a corner. Noah threw his racquet high in the air and blew kisses to the crowd.

The two are now even at 4-4 in their career meetings. Bettina Bunge Tops Pam Shriver
I remember when the current facility at Indian Wells was built in 1987, I think. There was an exhibition tournament there to open it featuring Steffi, Hana, Wendy Turnbull, and Kathy Rinaldi. Then there was a mixed doubles match between, I think, Graf/Pasarel and Hana/Fillol.
I remember when the current facility at Indian Wells was built in 1987, I think. There was an exhibition tournament there to open it featuring Steffi, Hana, Wendy Turnbull, and Kathy Rinaldi. Then there was a mixed doubles match between, I think, Graf/Pasarel and Hana/Fillol.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Steffi Graf defeated Wendy Turnbull and Hana Mandlikova beat Kathy Rinaldi Saturday to advance to the final of the $100,000 Newsweek women's tennis tournament.

Graf, a 17-year-old West German ranked No. 3 in the world, powered her way past Australia's Wendy Turnbull, 6-3, 6-1, and Mandlikova defeated Kathy Rinaldi, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

The Graf-Turnbull match began with neither player able to hold service. There were five consecutive services breaks and a total of six in their opening set at Grand Champions resort.

"In the beginning, I had problems with Wendy's low slice and I didn't serve well," Graf said. "In the second set, everything worked pretty well for me."

Turnbull said she was weary from playing four hours the previous day, in both singles and doubles.

Mandlikova, from Czechoslovakia, rebounded from the first-set loss to dominate Rinaldi in their match.

Ranked No. 4 in the world, Mandlikova broke Rinaldi's service six of seven times in the last two sets, and won the match by breaking her serve in a love game.