Stanford's Zhao joins Gibbs in Bank of West Classic main draw


Nicole Gibbs feels at home whenever she steps onto the courts of the Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford. Having a few members of the Stanford tennis community along for the ride just adds to her comfort level.

Carol Zhao, who announced she was turning pro following Stanford's NCAA championship in the spring, was added to the Bank of the West Classic main draw as a wildcard it was announced Friday.

Caroline Lampl

Melissa Lord
In addition, Cardinal sophomores Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl were awarded wildcards into the qualifying draw, which gets underway Saturday and is free and open to the public.

Gibbs, ranked No. 72 in the world, received an automatic entry into the tournament based on her world ranking.

The tournament's main draw begins on Monday, July 18. Tickets for the Bank of the West Classic are on sale now with individual session tickets for the opening round starting at just $34.

The Bank of the West Classic also provides fans with multiple money-saving ticket packages that start as low as $192 for Night Session Packages, $265 for Weekend Packages and $620 for Full Week Packages. Groups of 15 or more can also receive discounts of up to 20 percent.

Go to the event's website or call (866) 982-8497 to secure your tickets.

Zhao helped lead the Cardinal to their 19th NCAA team title. She was an all-Pac-12 first team selection and ended the season ranked No. 25 in the nation.

Following her spectacular sophomore season in which she advanced to the NCAA women's singles final and earned All-American honors in both singles and doubles, she spent most of the fall training with the Canadian Fed Cup team.

This will mark Zhao's third consecutive main draw appearance at the Bank of the West Classic.

Lampl lead the team in wins last season, posting a 30-5 record as a freshman. Playing most of her matches at the No. 5 spot, she finished 21-2 in dual matches, the most dual match wins by a freshman since Gibbs (27-0 in 2010-11). Lampl went 5-0 in the Cardinal's NCAA Championship run earning NCAA All-Tournament Team recognition.

Lord posted a 25-12 record as a freshman, including a 16-7 record in dual matches. She won 10 of her final 11 matches, including a 6-0 mark in NCAA tournament competition, and was named to the NCAA all-tournament team.

Headlined by seven-time Grand Slam Champion and four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Venus Williams, this year's player field boast 12 players ranked among the top-2 in their respective countries and may end up competing at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

Overall, 12 countries are represented in the field, and of the 20 players on the WTA official acceptance list, 12 have won at least one career WTA singles title. The 2016 player field has combined to win 76 career WTA singles titles.

The player field also includes 2013 Bank of the West Classic champion and current World No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova, World No. 18 and 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta, 2012 Bank of the West Classic finalist Coco Vandeweghe and Japanese No. 1 Misaki Doi.

The Bank of the West Classic, a Premier WTA event, features a 28-player singles draw as well as a 16-team doubles draw. The event is owned and operated by IMG and serves as the opening women's event of the Emirates Airline US Open Series.

The list of past champions of the event reads like a Who's Who of women's tennis, including Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.

The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the Emirates Airline US Open Series.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Bank of the West Classic

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