By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford junior tennis player Bradley Klahn tried to look nonchalant sitting up on the dais Friday for the draw ceremony of the SAP Open at San Jose's Fairmont Hotel.
For his debut on such a stage, Klahn handled himself quite nicely, thank you, and managed a what-the-heck shrug when he learned his first round opponent would be the second-seeded Gael Monfils of France.
"I have the advantage of watching him play more often than he's seen me," Klahn said, cracking a grin. "I played him in doubles at the U.S. Open so I've been on the court with him. I expect a good match and to have some fun."
Klahn, who received a wild card to play in the main draw of the $531,000 ATP Tour event, meets Monfils in the second half of the main event Wednesday night at HP Pavilion.
Klahn spent part of his summer vacation traveling around the United States with a group of college players, sponsored by the ITA, and participated in a handful of Challenger and Futures tournament.
"It was fun for me to be around my peers," said Klahn. "Two college coaches traveled with the group and we received a lot of training."
He'll be participating in his second ATP Tour event next week. This may be unfamiliar territory, though he certainly knows the terrain. He follows the tour closely, and grew up playing on the junior circuit with some of the top Americans.
"I played Tim (Smyczek) in the qualifier last year and I know Milos (Raonic) from juniors," said Klahn, who also played, and won a set from, American Sam Querrey, the SAP Open's third seed. Smyczek and Raonic are also in the main draw.
Klahn, who won the NCAA singles title last year, defended his Sherwood Cup title this season. He's helped eighth-ranked Stanford win its first four dual matches, most recently a 5-2 win over No. 15 Texas Tech on Wednesday.
"I think the team is improving with every match," Klahn said. "I thought the guys came ready to play against Texas Tech. We were fired up and it was a good test for us."
Klahn will also be playing doubles, with Stanford teammate Ryan Thacher, at the SAP Open. This will be their first pairing outside of the college atmosphere.
"We've been good friends for a long time," Klahn said. "We knew each other growing up in Los Angeles and we get along."
Klahn also said senior Alex Clayton, the former ITA Newcomer of the Year beset by injuries, will play an important role for the Cardinal.
"He is off to a good start and playing better," Klahn said. "He's more confident and as a senior leader will play a big part in how far we go."
Stanford freshman Nicole Gibbs reached the quarterfinals of the Del Mar Financial Partners Inc. Open, an ITF event, at the Morgan Rub Club and Resort in Rancho Santa Fe.
Gibbs upset fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-3, in the first round and USC grad Amanda Fink, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round. Gibbs reached the main draw out of the qualifying tournament.
Gibbs lost to Slovakia's Lenka Wienerova, 6-4, 6-2, on Friday.