By Haddon Libby

As has been the case since 1976, all eyes in the tennis world are focused on the Coachella Valley this weekend with the conclusion of the two-week BNP Paribas Open.  It is expected that more than 400,000 will attend the tournament this year.

Dubbed the fifth Slam event, only the U.S. Open draws more attendees than our local tournament.  We are home to the second largest tennis-only venue in the world with 16,100 seats; second only to the 22,547 seat U.S. Open.  For reference, the top four tennis events are the U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon.  Slams are very Anglo-Franco.

Our current venue debuted in 2000 at a cost of $77 million and was sold six years later to a group of investors that included Pete Sampras, Chris Evert, Billy Jean King, Greg Norman, Tennis Magazine owners George Mackin and Bob Miller and venue founders Charlie Pasarelli and Ray Moore.  Three years later, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison bought the facility and event for $100 million.  Since that purchase, he has invested another $100 million in the facility and bought the 249 acre Porcupine Creek Golf Course, former residence of Tim and Edra Blixseth, for $43 million in 2011.  Porcupine Creek is the private 19-hole course in Rancho Mirage where President Obama regularly plays golf when in the Coachella Valley.

For those of you unfamiliar with Tim and Edra Blixseth, they were a couple who professed to be billionaires despite prior bankruptcies.  They built the ultra-exclusive Yellowstone Club in Montana after which Tim stole around $286 million from the Club homeowners via the fraudulent transfer of proceeds from a loan on the club into his personal account.  While the courts have tried to get Blixseth to disclose where the money went, he has been defiant and spent fourteen months in jail instead of giving the courts an accounting as to where all of the money went.  Meanwhile, Edra got her turn in court for a fraudulent loan from a Colorado bank with her son.  It seems they got a loan from the bank to build furniture for Yellowstone Club homeowners yet never made any furniture.  Whoops!

Meanwhile, the latest former Mrs. Blixseth, Jessica Ferguson, is being ordered by the courts to return $9 million in assets that Tim transferred to her as well as another $600,000 transferred to her mother.

Getting back to tennis, that whole scoring system makes no sense.  First you have to win a bunch of games to win a couple of sets that result in the win of a match.  When scoring a game, if you have no points it is called love. 

Why would zero points be called ‘love’?  No one seems to know. 

Anyhow, when you get your first point, you get a score of 15. Your second point results in a score of 30.  Naturally, the third point means that you have a score of 45, right? 

Au contraire, mon ami. 

The third point is a score of 40 with the next point winning the game unless play ends in a tie of 40-40 a/k/a 3 to 3.  At that point, the new score is deuce meaning that someone needs to win by 2 points with the first point called ‘advantage.’  You have to win six games to win a set and you have to win each set by at least two games unless that set goes to tiebreaker. If a set or match go in to tiebreakers, you have sudden death where no one dies although rules often vary from event to event.

Haddon Libby is an Investment Advisor and Managing Partner of Winslow Drake Investment Management and can be reached at or 760.449.6349.