By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Nicole Gibbs put on quite a show Thursday in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center.
Gibbs, just two months and four tournaments into her professional career, gave 29th-ranked Jamie Hampton everything she could handle before losing to the tournament's No. 4 seed, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in front of a crowd that included a handful of Stanford football players.
"At the end of the day I was concerned about how I could match up with the Top 30 level," Gibbs said. "I can hang with them. Now I'd like to start winning a few of these matches."
Gibbs earned $10,700 and 60 ranking points, which could move her up to as high as 170 when the rankings are calculated on Monday.
"I want to hold myself to a higher level," Gibbs said. "I need the mindset of playing bigger tennis."
Hampton, who reached her fifth quarterfinal of the season, faces qualifier Vera Dushevina, the Russian who knocked Stanford's Kristie Ahn out of the qualifying draw.
"It was my first match of the hardcourt season and I was shaking off some rust," Hampton said. "I didn't expect to be perfect but she gave me everything I could handle."
Among the Stanford football players spotted in attendance supporting Gibbs were quarterback Kevin Hogan, kicker Jordan Williamson, center Conor McFadden, safety Kyle Olugbode, offensive lineman Cameron Fleming and linebacker Blake Lueders.
"I won't say they were obnoxious but they were tough," Hampton said. "I'm just happy they came out to support their girl. It wasn't but that's OK."
Gibbs said she will try to qualify for the main draw of the Southern California Open in Carlsbad beginning Saturday.
"I know it's a quick turnaround but I am feeling good," Gibbs said. "I want to carry that momentum into that event."
Afterward she hopes to take a couple of weeks off and then ask for a wild card for New Haven, leading up to the U.S. Open.
Gibbs also said she is not surprised former teammate Mallory Burdette is already a Top 80 player.
"I have every confidence in her," Gibbs said. "She is one of the best ball strikers in the world and her success has inspired me."
Stanford coach Lele Forood has been impressed with both of her former players.
"Mallory has a year out there," she said. "I don't think we saw her finest in the first round. But seeing her footwork and what she has done physically, it bodes well for her career."
And Gibbs? "That was a good win for her in the first round," Forood said. "She played strong and she guts it out. She's relentless and fearless."
Burdette has been playing on the WTA Tour almost exclusively this season after dominating Challenger tournaments.
"Sometimes it's good to go play Challengers just to get more match play," Forood said. "If you go through a period where you are losing in the first or second round week after week, you're not playing enough. If you can dominate at that level you can return to tour events with that winning mindset again."
No. 3 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia opened Thursday's proceedings with a 7-6, 7-6 (5) victory over Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele.
Cibulkova survived Voegele's 10 aces and six of her own double faults to gain the victory. She'll meet Urszula Radwanska in Friday's quarterfinal.
Dushevina beat 44th-ranked Madison Keys, 7-6 (0), 6-2 in the late match.
The 154th-ranked Dushevina reached her first quarterfinal since winning her lone WTA Tour title in 2009 at Istanbul. She also earned a victory over her highest ranked opponent in two years.
"I really like hardcourt," Dushevina said. "I feel confident."
Dushevina, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 31 in 2006, beat both Keys and Hampton at Memphis last year, also as a qualifier.