Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 23, 2010

Bank of the West Classic will have plenty to celebrate

by Rick Eymer

The 2010 Bank of the West Classic certainly will be all about celebration when it makes its annual appearance next week at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

This will be the event's 40th birthday party, so to speak, and will have a field worthy of the celebration during the week-long event that begins Monday and wraps up Sunday, Aug. 1.

Defending champion Marion Bartoli of France returns but will be tested by many of the world's best players. Three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is just one of the many standout players who will battle Bartoli, along with three top-10 players and at least 12 of the top 30 players in the world overall.

Sharapova, who will play in the featured 7 p.m. match on Tuesday, is one of the most popular and successful tennis players in the world. The former World No. 1, and future Hall of Famer, has already won two titles in three finals appearances this year.

In addition to Sharapova, the tournament field includes 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, 2008 Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva, 2010 French Open finalist Samantha Stosur, 2010 Australian Open semifinalist Zheng Jie, 2009 US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer, 2008 Australian Open semifinalist Daniela Hantuchova, two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Kimiko Date Krumm, former No. 1 Dinara Safina and 18th ranked Victoria Azarenka.

And if that wasn't enough, the doubles draw will feature three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport playing with Liezel Huber, the world's No. 1 ranked doubles player.

The Bank of the West also will have its usual handful of past, present or future Stanford players. Stanford's Hilary Barte and two highly rated incoming Cardinal freshmen are among the final list of wild cards.

Barte, who will be entering her senior year at this fall, is already a six-time All-American having earned singles and doubles honors her first three years. This will be her second appearance in the Bank of the West as a wild card in the main draw.

The wild-card selections for the qualifying draw include two future Stanford players, Kristie Ahn and Nicole Gibbs. They have yet to take their first class at Stanford, but both will have the opportunity to play on the courts they will call home over the next four years. Ahn and Gibbs are both currently ranked in the top 500 in the world.

Finalizing the qualifying wild cards are Tamaryn Hendler and Coco Vandeweghe. Hendler, better known as Tammy Hendler, is 18 years of age and a former World Top 5 junior player. Hendler reached the quarterfinals in the 2008 US Open Girls' singles tournament and the semifinals at 2008 Junior Wimbledon.

Vandeweghe, who resides in Rancho Santa Fe (Ca.), defeated Hendler on her way to winning the 2008 US Open Girls' Singles championship. Vandeweghe, currently ranked 200 in the world, is the niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe.

The 2010 Bank of the West Classic will feature a 30-player singles draw and 16-team doubles draw. The official tournament draw, and first-round matchups, will be announced on Saturday.

Tickets for the 2010 can be purchased by calling the box office at 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497) or by logging on to www.BankoftheWestClassic.com.

To help celebrate its 40th anniversary, the tournament will honor "Four Decades of Champions" prior to the 7:30 p.m. semifinal match on Saturday, July 31. The event will feature appearances by some of the tournament's most prestigious winners, including Billie Jean King and Andrea Jaeger.

King won the tournament's inaugural singles title in 1971 and went on to win the event's singles championship three times and the doubles title four times. King was ranked No. 1 in the world for five years, won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King is often considered the founding mother of women's athletics.

Jaeger, who will be representing the decade of the '80s, won the Bank of the West Classic in 1981 and 1982. Jaeger, who achieved a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world, reached the finals of Wimbledon in 1983 and the French Open in 1982. Jaeger's successful tennis career ended prematurely due to rotator cuff injuries in her right shoulder.

Yet another special addition next week will be the first-ever US Open National Playoffs that features 16 women vying for a wild-card entry into the 2010 US Open qualifying.

The US Open National Playoffs began with 16 sectional qualifying tournaments held throughout the country from April through June. In all, 373 women competed in hopes of making it to the final 16 at Stanford.

No player will be entering the 16-player playoff with more professional experience than 33-year-old Alina Jidkova, a Russian immigrant who won the Texas Sectional Qualifying. Jidkova's professional résumé includes appearances in all four grand slams and a win over Serena Williams.

Other favorites will be LSU's only three-time singles All-American Megan Falcon, Southern California's Kaitlyn Christian, and former top-100 local-favorite Romana Tedjakusuma from Tracy.

The Women's Championships will be held July 28-Aug. 1, during the Bank of the West Classic. The final will take place Sunday, Aug. 1 following the women's Bank of the West doubles final.

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