The best time of year has officially arrived for tennis fans in the Coachella Valley. Tennis lovers from across the globe will descend upon the desert over the next few weeks, just in time to witness the natural beauty and world-class events of Tennis Paradise. While the BNP Paribas Open is unmistakably Tennis Season’s marquee tournament, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden will host another can’t-miss event for fans in the area early: the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells.
For those who can’t wait until March 4th to get their fill of tennis action, the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells will provide an exciting preview to the world-class play set to culminate at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. Coming to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden from February 25 – March 3, 2019, the week before the BNP Paribas Open, the tournament is free and open to the public and will feature some of the brightest young stars in the sport.
Launched in late 2017, the Oracle Challenger Series was established to support up-and-coming American tennis players secure both ranking points and prize money. The Series’ 2018-2019 season has already visited three cities; Chicago, Houston and Newport Beach; before making its final stop in Indian Wells. While the tournament is a WTA 125 and ATP World Tour Challenger event paying equal prize money at $150,000 per Tour per event, the players are vying for something much more valuable. The two American men and two American women who accumulate the most points over the course of the four events in the Series will receive wild cards into the main draw at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. The chance for entry into the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world is a priceless accolade, and one that has encouraged rising American players from across the country to participate in the Series.
Last year, Danielle Collins, Amanda Anisimova, Bradley Klahn and Reilly Opelka earned the wild cards. Collins and Anisimova made the most of their opportunity as they each reached the Round of 16, the best performances of their professional careers at that point. In January, Collins continued her rapid ascent up the tennis world rankings with a semifinal appearance in the Australian Open. This year, there are several up-and-coming Americans who will look to replicate Collins’ success following the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells.
On the women’s side, a draw of nine Americans is highlighted by Jessica Pegula, who has had impressive showings throughout the 2018-2019 Oracle Challenger Series. Pegula, who cracked the WTA Top 100 for the first time in her career after reaching the finals in Newport Beach, currently sits in the second spot on the Road to Indian Wells Leaderboard. The leaderboard keeps track of the current Series standings and will determine who receives wild card entry into the BNP Paribas Open at the conclusion of the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells. Alison Riske, who at No. 52 is the highest ranked woman in the field, will be joined by other Americans including Sachia Vickery, Varvara Lepchenko, Taylor Townsend and more.
The men’s draw includes seven Americans and is headlined by Reilly Opelka, one of last year’s wild card recipients. Opelka is playing the best tennis of his career, having recently defeated No. 10 John Isner in the first round of the Australian Open and captured his first career ATP Tour title at the New York Open earlier this month. Along with him, Oracle Challenger Series veteran Donald Young Jr., two-time Series quarterfinalist Noah Rubin and 2018 Oracle US Tennis Award recipient Christopher Eubanks will join the fray among others.
While the focus of the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells will understandably be on the American contingent, there are notable international names also set to compete. 2011 US Open Champion Samantha Stosur will challenge the group of American women, along with WTA No. 3 ranked doubles player Kristina Mladenovic, who has won two Grand Slams in doubles and has a career high singles ranking of No. 10 in 2017. On the men’s side, No. 72 Serbian Filip Krajinovic is the highest ranked player in the field. Andrey Rublev, the 2017 ATP Next Gen Finals runner-up also joins the competition in Indian Wells.
With the incredible depth of talent and the future of American tennis on display, fans who arrive early to the Coachella Valley will have the perfect opportunity to get in the tennis spirit before the start of the 2019 BNP Paribas Open.
All Oracle Challenger Series events are free and open to the public. For more information about the Oracle Challenger Series, please visit oraclechallengerseries.com.