FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. – Atherton resident and Stanford commit Cici Bellis had quite a few “wow” moments at the US Open this year.
Winning three qualifying matches at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center just to get into the main draw got her stoked. Then winning her first two matches and going further than she ever had at a Grand Slam had her literally jumping up and down with excitement.
“It’s the most amazing court I’ve ever played on, the best court on the world,” Bellis said after her defeat over the weekend. “Today was the best experience I’ve ever had in tennis. Her (Kerber) groundstrokes are perfect, and I hope to one day play like her.”
Bellis, who after the US Open will now be ranked a career-high No. 125 in the WTA rankings, committed to play for Stanford’s legendary program earlier in 2016, and through her US Open run that garnered her many new fans, she continued to say that playing for the Cardinal was still on the table.
But her enrollment is not necessarily set in stone.
“Right now I think it’s still definitely an option for me,” she said after the loss to Kerber. “But I’m not going to make any quick decisions right now.”
Bellis’ choice is certainly not an easy one; by not turning pro she’s foregoing a $140,000 payday for reaching the third round, as well as other prize money she’s won this year.
Bellis’ 2016 has been a solid one, as she has improved her forehand and serve and is a much more mature player than she was in 2014, when as a 15-year-old she upset Dominika Cibulkova in the US Open’s first round.
This season has seen Bellis win a small tournament in Sumter, S.C., and reach the finals of another in Surprise, Ariz.
While Bellis considers a Stanford career, Nicole Gibbs completed one and is also slowly moving up the ranks. Gibbs, who played three years at Stanford before turning pro in 2013, entered the US Open ranked No. 69, (her career high is No. 68) and has also had a strong 2016.
She won her first-round singles match at the Open and looked like she would bow out quietly in the second round. But trailing No. 26 seed Laura Siegemund 6-3, 5-2, Gibbs rallied and saved six match points before finally losing, 6-3, 7-5.
“Just knowing that I was about to be out of the US Open made me to start to play better, I think,” Gibbs said. “It’s just frustrating because I put myself back into a position to win that match and make the third round for the first time here.”
Gibbs, who also reached the third round in women’s doubles with partner Nao Hibino, made her first fourth-round appearance at a Grand Slam this season, reaching that level at the Australian Open in January.
She also reached the Round of 16, beating Top 10 player Madison Keys, at Indian Wells in March, and beat Top 30 player Kristina Mladenovic in Miami later that month.
Gibbs has also become known for her vocal stances she’s been taking on Twitter. Under the handle @gibbsyyyy, she has been a loud proponent of equal prize money in tennis, as well as engaged in small political dust-ups with other players like Coco Vandeweghe.
“I think my (Twitter feed) is just an extension of my personality; I don’t intend to be provocative,” Gibbs said. “I just think I stand up for what I believe in, which is important for anyone to do.”