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At 9:00 o’clock Friday morning, M and I excitedly drove to Indian Wells Tennis Garden with high hopes of watching some of the best players in the world practice; after all, we drove 7 hours just for this tournament. Our anticipation diminished however when told only day ticket holders may enter the grounds. We have evening tickets, which our time of entry is 4:30pm. Duh! It said that on the ticket.

Past 4:30…at last, we have arrived! We immediately hit the practice courts. Many gorgeous and tanned men were practicing, none I recognize. M and I found an area where a swarm of fans was waiting around. This is the place where players enter the grounds to either play soccer or go to the practice courts, which connects to the dining area for players and their families, and the locker rooms. In other words, it is the IT place to be if you want to just get a glimpse of them or to get an autograph.

The first player we saw was Marin Cilic. He did not look too happy when we approached him. I think he lost, but he still stopped for us. (L-R Nicolas Mahut, Cilic, ? don’t know his name, and Richard Gasquet)Pictures above are of Radek Stepanek and Bob Bryan in the white cap and blue jacket. Stepanek said to the crowd who were chanting his name for an autograph, “I go everywhere”. He did. I fought hard to get Bob Bryan’s autograph. I know…M with Vanya King. She just won her match.

Then, we spotted Sam Stosur.Andy Murray signing autographs. Stanislas Wawrinka on the right. The doubles match between Fish/Roddick vs. Nieminem/Mayer went over the 7pm time slot, so we were let in to watch Roddick and Fish lose. Ah, Rafa! At last! The crowd went wild at his introduction. He played a doubles match with fellow Spaniard, Lopez and won.

Just before the next match, we were lucky to take part in honoring the armed forces. A local band played the hymns of each service whereupon those who served our nation past and present, stood up proudly. We clapped our hands in recognition of their service, proud to have brave women and men who sacrificed so much for their country. The flag is a 9/11 flag which was lent for this event. The last match was between Petra Kvitova and Barbara Zahlavova Strycova. Kvitova won but would lose to Christina McHale the next day.

I can’t wait to share with you Day 2 of our journey. This trip was two years in the making. Believe me, I savored every moment. Despite of the 30 minute drive to the tennis garden, the backaches from carrying a loaded backup (camera, food, jacket, and water), traffic and parking headaches, 80 degrees of sunshine, long bathroom lines, unhealthy eating habits, and sleeping past 12am, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!