The Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells has an incredibly strong field featuring some of the best American and international players – but that distinction doesn’t just apply to the singles draws. Doubles is incredibly popular with both players and spectators in the desert, and the teams who are entered are drawing crowds and creating a spectacular atmosphere at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Headlined by ATP singles World No.7 Alexander Zverev and his brother, Mischa, the men’s doubles field also includes Frances Tiafoe/Jannik Sinner, Jack Sock/Michael Mmoh and many more Americans and fan-favorites. On the women’s side, multiple-time doubles Grand Slam Champions Vania King and Vera Zvonareva are hitting the court, singles and doubles Grand Slam Champion Samantha Stosur is teaming up with Yanina Wickmayer and Auckland champs Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad lead the American charge.
Getting their first-round victory on Wednesday was another American duo, Caty McNally and Jessica Pegula. They defeated Hsu Chieh-Yu and Caitlin Whoriskey in a tough 3-6, 7-6(6), (10-5) match. Although this is their first tour-level event at which they’ve partnered, they have seen success in smaller events and know that their games and attitudes complement each other.
Jess hits the ball super hard and flat,” said McNally. Which is really effective for when I’m at the net because a lot of the girls can’t absorb her pace super well. It allows me to poach, and that’s what I like to do – be at the net. We get along really well, which helps also. It keeps everything really chill out there and we’re always pretty happy.”
The 18-year-old McNally has made some noise both in singles, taking Serena Williams to a third set at the 2019 US Open, and in doubles, partnering fellow teen Coco Gauff to win two titles last year. That has impressed Pegula, who knows that McNally complements her game on the doubles court.
I think Caty is a really good doubles player, she’s obviously done really well with Coco (Gauff). She knows how to play doubles really well – probably better than I do. I can rip from the baseline and she’s good at the net. We get along and we’re pretty relaxed. We know how we have to play – which is to be aggressive – so I think even for singles it’s great to go out not to practice, but to compete and work on our games.”
Most importantly, though, their chemistry is undeniable, even focusing through (self-caused) adversity.
“Well I hit her today,” admitted Pegula.
“A nice little stinger in the back of the neck,” confirmed McNally with a wince and a rub.
“But then we won.”
This came at the most inopportune time, tied at 5-5 in the second set tiebreak after dropping the first set, which teed up a match point for their opponents. From there, however, the duo won 13 of the last 18 points to close out the match and advance to the quarterfinals.
“It was like the turning point of the match, honestly. Whenever we’re losing, just hit me in the head,” joked McNally.
McNally and Pegula now face a tough test from a strong international team in Japan’s Misaki Doi and Germany’s Laura Siegemund, who took out the top seed in the first round.
With all the incredible high-quality doubles to take in at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, make sure bring your along your fellow tennis lovers and get some tips by watching the pros in action!