The tournament made great strides in the ATP this year when it was designated as one of the elite events on the ATP Tour in the category now known as the ATP Masters 1000 Series. Stefan Edberg defeated Andre Agassi in four sets: 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4). In the WTA, Virginia Slims of Indian Wells was upgraded to a tier II tournament. Martina Navratilova won the title, beating Helena Suková in three sets: 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
In partnership with IMG, the tournament became a sanctioned WTA tier III tournament this year, known as Virginia Slims of Indian Wells. Manuela Maleeva was the first female champion after defeating Jenny Byrne in straight sets: 6-4, 6-1. Miloslav Mečiř took home the men’s prize, beating Yannick Noah in five sets: 3-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
With Boris Becker’s second tournament win, this time over Emilio Sanchez in four sets (7-5, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4) the event gained international attention. It also gained a new name: Newsweek Champions Cup.
With the tournament growing in popularity, it outgrew the facilities at the La Quinta Hotel. The newly completed 350-room Grand Champions Hotel (now the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa) served as an ideal next home for the tournament, thus bringing it to Indian Wells. The sophisticated tennis facility boasted 12 courts, including a 10,000-seat tennis stadium, 3,000-seat clubhouse court, two grass courts and two clay courts. This was also the first year that a top women’s professional competition (featuring now Hall of Famer Stephanie Graf) was held in conjunction with the men’s, though not concurrently. Boris Becker defeated Stefan Edberg in straight sets: 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Though 1985’s runner up David Pate beat reigning champion, Larry Stefanki in the second round, it was Joakim Nyström’s year. He defeated Yannick Noah in the championship in straight sets: 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.
The tournament became known as the Pilot Pen Classic this year. Wild Card player and local resident of La Quinta, Larry Stefanki, stunned the tennis world when he defeated David Pate in four sets for the title: 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
After beating defending champion José Higueras in the semifinals, Jimmy Connors defeated Yannick Noah: 6-2, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3 for his third tournament win.
While Eliot Teltscher was able to stop defending champion Yannick Noah in the semifinals, it was José Higueras who prevailed in the finals. He beat Teltscher in straight sets: 6-4, 6-2.
Again known as the Congoleum Classic, the tournament enjoyed its second year at the La Quinta Hotel. France’s Yannick Noah made history this year by defeating Ivan Lendl in three sets: 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, thereby ending his winning streak of 44 matches.
Thanks to passion and persuasion from tennis great Charles Pasarell, the tournament remained in the Coachella Valley despite ATP plans to move it to Florida. The tournament, now known as the Grand Marnier/ATP Tennis Games, was moved to a newly opened 7,500-seat stadium at the La Quinta Hotel. Pasarell accepted the role of tournament director. Jimmy Connors won for the second time when he defeated Ivan Lendl in straight sets: 6-3, 7-6.