STANFORD, Calif.- Following last year’s 6-2, 6-1 loss to Serena Williams in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic, Nicole Gibbs walked off her home court with a taste of what to expect at the next level.
After Thursday’s 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3 setback to Jamie Hampton under the same circumstances, Gibbs must now feel like she clearly belongs.
Of course, Hampton is not Williams. But the 23-year-old Hampton is recognized as one of the top young players in the game, ranked No. 29 in the world and competing in her first tour event as a seeded player.
For the 20-year-old Gibbs, it would have been the biggest win of her brief pro career, which is barely two months old. Refusing to quit and fighting until the final point, Gibbs provided two hours of exciting drama for the same fans who watched her dominate opponents at the college level inside Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
When it was all said and done, Hampton managed to fend off a late comeback attempt by Gibbs and advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.
Thursday’s contest was much different than last year’s second-round matchup, in which a wide-eyed Gibbs managed only three games combined against the 16-time major champion Williams, who repeatedly pounded serves and painted lines.
The home court advantage was all Gibbs, who had compiled a 56-5 career record at Taube Family Tennis Stadium during her three seasons on The Farm. Meanwhile, Hampton had only played three matches on site, finishing 2-1 at the 2010 Bank of the West Classic. Gibbs was also being supported by a vocal contingent of Cardinal football players, led by quarterback Kevin Hogan.
Gibbs jumped out to an early lead in the first set but could not close out. Trailing 5-4, Hampton ripped off three straight games to wrap up the set 7-5.
Gibbs cruised to a 4-1 lead in the second frame and later moved ahead 5-3 after collecting a service break. After Hampton evened the set at 5-5 and 6-6, Gibbs prevailed in a critical tiebreaker by a 7-5 margin.
Hampton quickly moved in front 4-0 in the deciding set but Gibbs was not done. The three-time All-American and two-time defending NCAA singles champion trimmed the lead to 4-3.
Hampton came through with a break and then held serve en route to winning the final two games, continuing her solid 2013 campaign.
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-by Brian Risso, Athletic Communications/Media Relations
ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: 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. Owned and operated by IMG, the WTA Premier event features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $795,000. Held on Stanford University’s campus at Taube Family Tennis Stadium since 1997, former champions include: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.
ABOUT BANK OF THE WEST: Founded in 1874, $62 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a full range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.
ABOUT IMG: IMG Worldwide is a global sports, entertainment and media business, with nearly 3,000 employees operating in 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging: IMG College; IMG’s Joint Ventures in China, Brazil and India; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academies; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing. More information is available at www.imgworld.com.