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Indian Wells is ON

Most of the best tennis players in the world do like getting some time off but when Indian Wells comes around, there is no other place they rather be. The tournament that celebrates its 40th anniversary, runs from March 9 to the 22 at Indian Wells, California.

It is one of the few non-Grand Slam tournaments where the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) collide throughout the year. So it is one of those rare chances to see the best of both genders battle it out on the tennis courts. This year, on the men’s side, 18 out of the top 20 players were registered to play. In the women’s side, only three out of the top 20 are not in the mix.

The weather in not expected to disappoint. California, unlike the east side of the country, is warming up quickly around this time of the year. The weather, the atmosphere and the high level of tennis displayed throughout the two weeks of competition surely invites any tennis lover to stay tuned.


The tournament, that was originally staged in Arizona, made a brief stop in Florida for a few years before coming back to the west coast. It was until 1987 when both men and women were invited to participate. What you could find fascinating about it, is that the complex in which the tournament was played grew around the idea of adequating a La Quinta Hotel to a place for tennis to host its biggest stars. The organizers at that time already envisioned the success it has today.

In 2000, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden opened its doors. Changes to the venue are constantly made, but the essence of the tournament remain the same. Attendance for the event keeps growing every year. In 2014, 431,527 people witnessed what went on. The main stadium seats around 16,100 fans and it is not unusual to see it sell out. The complex has a total of 20 practice courts and nine stadium courts. It was voted as ATP Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year in 2014.

The tournament is scheduled around the halfway point between the Australian Open and the Roland Garros. The ATP follows it with the Irving Classic and the Miami Open which is also in the schedule of the WTA. Players don’t seem to care about the jet lag that comes with trying to make it to California. They all want to be there as it is a great opportunity for developing talent to show what they are made off.

There are many storylines that will be unfolding at this tournament. One that might catch most people’s attention is Rafael Nadal’s return to action after a long injury break. The Spaniard has shown fans, time and time again he can come back from almost everything. Novak Djokovic is the man to beat as he is the reigning champion. Watch out for Kei Nishikori who is Nick Bollettieri’s favorite student at the time. The Japanese player has won 10 out of his last 11 games since the Aussie Open. Roger Federer reached the final last year but is not expected to do so this year. While Andy Murray is also going through at hot streak, experts don’t see him getting past the quarter-finals and give Novak the win before he even plays a game.

On the women’s side things always tend to be a bit more exciting. Serena Williams should not have too many difficulties reaching the final and most likely to win it. She has not played at this Open since her win in 2001. Victoria Azarenka wants to get back to being the #1 player in the world. How bad does she want it will be judged on how she does in this venue. While injuries seem to be her biggest concern, her fighting spirits is her biggest weapon. Based on how the brackets are set up, she could face Maria Sharapova in the third round. That would be a big test for both of them prior to reaching the final stages of the tournament. I believe Sharapova has a clear advantage by the way she’s been playing lately. Watch out and don’t underestimate Caroline Wozniacki, she has talent and just ran the New York City Marathon. Never underestimate a marathoner. She can have one of those weeks where even Willams would not want to be in front of her. It all depends on how she warms up early in the tournament. The women’s side is always more unpredictable that the men’s side.

Last thing I’ve got to say is that you must keep up with what happens at Indian Wells. I can already tell you will like what you see.

When One Call Changes History

Before the season started I was asked during a job interview if the Seattle Seahawks were going to win the Super Bowl after defeating San Francisco for their first league title. My answer was no. I honestly did not see them making it to Glendale, Arizona this time around. I was one call from being wrong.

Other than the Cowboys, I do like the Seahawks when it comes to teams in the NFC. The big names in the team were not selected as big guys in the draft. It was Pete Carroll and his staff the ones that have developed household names in every position. This past Sunday, they were one yard away from achieving greatness and suddenly blew it.

Both teams were at the Super Bowl because of their ability to study their opponents. Seattle came into the big game with the #1 defense in the league, New England was not too far back. The Legion of Boom was dominated by Tom Brady’s short and quick passing. Russell Wilson almost had to wait until the end of the first half to complete one pass.

While the stats suggested that Bill Bellichick’s team could have the lead, the score was tied at 14 before Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot took the stage for the halftime show.

As soon as the third quarter began the Seahawks had the momentum of the game. They scored a touchdown and a field goal to get a ten-point lead. If the numbers really mattered, Brady and his guys could have decided to leave the stadium by then. No team in Super Bowl history had overcome a 10-point deficit in the final quarter of a Super Bowl.

Brady is one of the worst quarterbacks when it comes to throwing passes of 20 or more yards. Throwing short passes and running the ball via his running backs are his specialty. At 37, he barely moves out of the pocket. His precision lead the way and in two consecutive possessions they got a three point lead (28-24).

With just over two-minutes to go they turned the pressure onto the Seahawks. Wilson went with long passes and a few rushing plays. It was a pass to Jermaine Kearse on the four-yard-line that gave the Seahawks a reason to believe they would earn a second consecutive Super Bowl win. A play that the rookie Malcolm Butler from the Patriots had not been able to break.

At that point there was no reason to believe destiny was on the Seahawks side. They were destined to win the game and destroy my prediction. Beast Mode carried the ball to the one-yard line. With 26 seconds on the clock, one time out left for Seattle and just a second and goal opportunity almost everyone around the world knew what to do next.

Pete Carroll had other plans decided Wilson should throw a slant instead of running the ball. Wilson executed the play but the ball ended in Butler’s hands. The Patriots won the game and the Super Bowl for a fourth time in franchise history. Tom Brady, earned his fourth championship ring in seven league finals. Those four titles set him in the same list as Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with the most SB wins.

The man is not planning to retire for as long as he thinks he can still play. The Patriots can keep dreaming of titles with Bill and Brady in the team. By the way, Super Bowl XLIX set a record tv audience of almost half the population of the United States tuning in to watch the big game.