Sports

Gibbs draws fellow Stanford product in first round

 

Nicole Gibbs was scheduled to practice with fellow Stanford product Carol Zhao on Saturday in preparation for the Bank of the West Classic, which begins Monday, July 18. She'll have to re-think that after drawing Zhao as her first-round opponent.

"It's definitely a bummer," Gibbs said after Friday's draw ceremony at the Stanford Shopping Center. "Especially for Stanford fans. I'm sure they'd rather seen us both play deep into the tournament. At the same time it's a good opportunity for the both of us."

Atherton resident CiCi Bellis also drew a tough first-round opponent in sixth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko. The 19-year-old Latvian ranks No. 37 in the world and has seven ITF singles titles to her name along with eight ITF doubles titles.

Ostapenko has reached the finals of Quebec City last year and of Doha this season. She's 131-62 in her pro career, which began in 2012.

Bellis, who plays in the semifinals of the $50,000 Stockton Challenger on Saturday, is 59-30 in her career, including a 21-11 mark this season. She's ranked No. 220 and is 12-2 over her last 14 matches heading into Saturday's semifinal.

Gibbs and Zhao are also playing as a doubles team next week, complicating matters.

"It's a little weird to being practicing with a player two days out," Gibbs said. "We'll have to feel it out. She's absolutely a talented player and it will be an entertaining match."

Gibbs, who called Stanford "like a first home for me," was eliminated in the second round of the Stockton Challenger and isn't necessarily disappointed about it.

"I went there for fitness and to get some matches in," Gibbs said. "I was working on some on things. It was hot there. I'd much prefer to be here."

Ranked No. 72 in the world, one off her career-best (April of 2016), Gibbs went from having to qualify for last year's event to making the main draw due to her ranking.

She credits the coaching of Roger Smith, whom she added following the US Open for part of her success.

"Overall I've had a good season on hardcourts," Gibbs said. "Adding a coach was an immediate spark."

Despite being a different surface and a different alignment, Gibbs feels right at home on the Taube Family Tennis Stadium floor.

"I'm so familiar with it, they can put any surface on it and I'd feel comfortable," she said. "I've won so many great matches there. I don't want want to sound arrogant but I was fairly dominant there."

When you are a two-time NCAA singles champion, like Gibbs, it's not arrogance.

Stanford sophomores Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl will play in the qualifying tournament that begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Lord is scheduled for her first match at approximately 11 a.m. on the stadium court. Lampl will follow.

A video from the draw ceremony can be found here.

Lord will face Olga Govortsova in the second match inside the stadium. Lampl will square off against Asia Muhammad.

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