WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Playing a handful of matches as part of a Spring Break trip to southern California is nothing new for the Whitman College men's tennis team. Come this March, however, the Missionaries and their fans are marking their calendars and travel schedules for one match in particular.
On Thursday, March 18, Whitman plays Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on the courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which is home to the second largest tennis stadium in the world with a seating capacity of 16,100.
Many of those seats will be filled on the day Whitman and CMS do battle, although the primary attraction will be Pacific Life Open, one of the largest and most prestigious professional tournaments in the world. Indian Hills is hosting the Pacific Life tournament from March 8 through March 21.
By the time Whitman and CMS play on March 18 on the facility's outer courts, the tournament will be staging its men's and women's quarterfinal matches in the main stadium. Whitman's match starts at 9:30 a.m. Indian Wells, which spreads over 189 acres, has a total of 20 world-class courts and two smaller stadiums with seating for 8,000 spectators.
Reduced price tickets are available to any and all Whitman supporters, according to Jeff Northam, coach of the men's tennis team. Ticket prices for March 18 are $29 per session, which is reduced from a face value of $40. There are day and night sessions daily.
Tickets are for assigned grandstand seating in the main stadium. Ticket-holders are also free to walk throughout the facility. Seating around the outer courts is first come, first served.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for alumni, students and friends of Whitman tennis to support this year's team and also see some of the top players in the world," Northam said.
Whitman's opponent, CMS, has a formidable men's tennis team this season, Northam notes. The Stags, the defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, have two of the region's top players in senior John Michael Chamakoon and junior Iven Yeh. CMS athletic teams draw students from the Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps colleges in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, players expected to compete in the Pacific Open range from Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer to Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin-Hardenne and the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.
Whitman supporters who want to buy tickets can contact Northam by email at email@example.com.
Reduced price tickets are also available for all day or night sessions beginning March 10 and ending March 18, Northam said. "These grandstand prices range from $18 to $29 and are only available if we purchase a minimum of 20 per session."
The Pacific Life Open and Miami's Nasday-100 Open are the only two tournaments that are similar in nature to the tennis world's four Grand Slam tournaments - Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. opens. As the top six tournaments, each offers a world-class venue, top prize money, and a combined men's and women's format that stretches over two weeks.
Last year, the Pacific Life Open drew more than 200,000 fans. Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Kim Clijsters of Belgium won the men's and women's singles titles.
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org