Solid first-round matches on tap at Stanford


Friday's draw for the Bank of the West Classic, which gets into full swing Monday at the Taube Family Tennis Center at Stanford, did No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova no favors.

Sharapova, who earned a bye into the second round, could meet Daniela Hantuchova as her first opponent. While Sharapova has won seven of eight meetings with the Slovak, Hantuchova has won four career WTA titles and was ranked as high as No. 5.

Sharapova plays the feature match on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Should she somehow survive that match, former world No. 1 Serena Williams might be her next opponent.

Williams, coming off an injury, plays Anastasia Rodionova in Tuesday's feature match at 7 p.m. She would then have to survive the winner of a match between Maria Kirilenko and No. 6 seed Julia Goerges.

In any case, the draw assures the Classic of interesting matchups throughout the week-long event. How about a first-round match between seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic and Ayumi Morita? Or Stanford grad Hilary Barte returning to familiar surroundings as a pro and meeting Kai-Chen Chang?

Sharapova, top-seeded and defending champion Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 seed Marion Bartoli and fourth-seeded Samantha Stosur each received a bye into the second round.

Four other Stanford players could join Barte in the main draw, though it would mean surviving a tough qualifying tournament that gets underway Saturday.

Stacey Tan, the NCAA singles finalist, Nicole Gibbs, who reached the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, and Kristie Ahn, who missed the NCAAs with an injury, are all playing over the weekend. They are all unseeded. Incoming freshman Ellen Tsay is also entered.

Tsay plays Sheng-Nan Sun at 10 a.m. in the stadium. Ahn follows with her match against Abigail Spears.

Gibbs plays Ahsha Rolle in the fourth match of the day in the stadium and Tan ends the evening with a match against Heidi El Tabakh.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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