Sports


Gibbs tops Ahn in a battle of former Stanford teammates

It was a showdown between former Stanford teammates at the

USTA Player Development Women's $50,000 Classic in Carson, at the USTA Training Center/West at The StubHub Center on Thursday as six Americans advanced to the quarterfinals.

The key matchup of the day was between former Stanford teammates and friends, Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn. Both Gibbs and Ahn were members of the Stanford team that won the 2013 NCAA Team Championship.

Ahn, who was a finalist at a USTA Pro Circuit event in Carson in 2010, received medical treatment on her left wrist and back throughout the match. In the end, No. 2 seed Gibbs ran away with the match, winning 6-4, 6-3.

"Kristie is one of my best friends in tennis. I have shared more of my tennis history with her than any other player on the tour," said Gibbs, who also won the NCAA individual singles title for Stanford in 2012 and 2013. "It was a unique type of pressure today, playing one of your best friends. I don't know if it was the best tennis from either of us, but I did a good job trying to separate on-the-court from off-the court and keep my mind on playing the tennis that I wanted to play. I am feeling great going into the quarters."

Gibbs will face No. 6 seed An Sophie Mestach of Belgium on Friday.

Carson is the second of three consecutive women's hardcourt tournaments that make up the USTA Pro Circuit's US Open Wild Card Challenge, which will award a men's and women's wild card into the 2014 US Open.

The American woman who earns the most WTA ranking points at two of the three USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events in Sacramento, Carson, and Lexington, Ky., will receive a USTA wild card to compete in the main draw of the US Open, which will be held Sunday, August 25, to Monday, September 8. Only players who did not receive direct entry into the US Open are eligible for the wild cards.

In other tennis news, the annual Bank of the West Classic Draw Ceremony will be held Friday, July 25 at the Stanford Shopping Center.

The ceremony starts at 6 p.m. in the Center Pavilion and it will feature defending champion Dominika Cibulkova.

After the draw is complete, the WTA star will be available for a Q&A session and fans will also have the opportunity to take photos, request autographs, and even have a shot at winning free tickets and tournament merchandise.

Qualifying for the tournament at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center will begin July 26 and is free and open to the public. The longest-running women-only tennis tournament in the world will get under way July 28.

In addition to the No. 12-ranked Cibulkova, the top-flight field includes 17-time Grand Slam champion and World No. 1 Serena Williams, fourth-ranked and reigning Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, plus two-time Australian Open champion and world No. 10 Victoria Azarenka.

Water polo

A total of 18 USA Water Polo Olympians headline a loaded field of competitors for this weekend's US Open of Water Polo, taking place at four locations in Southern California.

The tournament starts on Friday, with the men's third- and first-place matches set for La Mirada Splash while the women's third- and first-place matches will be played at the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center in Commerce.

Villa, a four-time Olympian and 2012 gold medalist from Stanford, will be joined by eight of her teammates from the 2012 London Games along with a host of other high-level competitors including four-time Olympian Tony Azevedo and longtime Men's National Team captain Wolf Wigo, both former Stanford All-Americans.

Other current and former Stanford Olympians competing this weekend include Annika Dries, Melissa Seidemann, Jessica Steffens of the New York Athletic Club, Maggie Steffens of Stanford, Villa of the Olympic Club, and Peter Varellas of the NYAC.

Award recognition

Former Gunn High track coach and graduate, Matt Tompkins, has been selected as one of 25 finalists for the Brooks Most Inspiring Coach of the Year award.

The 1994 Gunn grad, coached track at Gunn from 2004-12 and is currently coaching at The King's Academy in Sunnyvale.

As a finalist, Tompkins has earned his team $5,000 worth of running gear and $500 for travel funds. He will be attending the Brooks award ceremony in early August. Should he win, Tompkins' team would receive an addition $7,500 worth of gear.

"In a nutshell, my team nominated me for this reward for how I kept the team together after a tragedy struck our team," Tompkins said, noting how a brother of two team members committed suicide during the middle of last season's cross-country season.  

"It felt as the cross-country team was a the epicenter of the tragedy as most of the team were very close to all three of the brothers," said Tompkins, who was able to keep the team up and running through the tragedy. 

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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