By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Jamie Hampton could have been Nicole Gibb's teammate for a couple of years at Stanford had things gone a little differently.
Hampton was still an amateur when she graduated from Auburn High School in Georgia in 2008. She was recruited by many schools, with Stanford and Florida at the top of the list.
It became academic when she turned pro and never went to school. She got to hear Thursday night what it might have been like it had she played for the Cardinal and Lele Forood. That's when she beat Gibbs in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic.
Hampton had a little more support at Taube Family Tennis Center on Friday when the 23-year-old beat Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina, 6-4, 6-3, in a quarterfinal match.
"Hopefully by the end of the week they'll accept me as an honorary Cardinal," Hampton said. "I always wanted to go to Stanford."
Hampton meets top-seeded and fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in the evening semifinal at 7 p.m.
Radwanska beat No. 6 Varvara Lepchenko, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3.
Hampton actually gave her verbal commitment to Florida because it was closer to her Alabama home. Stanford, though, was always on her mind.
"In the fifth grade I decided I was going to go to Stanford and study medicine," she said. "Me and my best friend just thought it was the best school on the West Coast. We were going to be roomies and be on the tennis team."
She would have entered Stanford as a freshman along with Veronica Li and Logan Hansen. Mallory Burdette came in the next year and Gibbs followed two years later.
Forood said Hampton was "part of the American group who are very talented." Burdette and Hampton are among the 11 American players ranked in the top 100, more than any other country.
(There have been other players in the past who were being recruited by Stanford and eventually decided to turn pro instead, Vania King among them).
Still seeking her first WTA Tour title, Hampton continues to enjoy her finest season to date. Seeded fourth, it's her first tournament as a seeded player. Two years ago she fell to Christina McHale (who fell to Urszula Radwanska in the first round) in the Bank of the West qualifying tournament.
Hampton last hoisted a championship trophy in September of 2010, when she was ranked 164th and her opponent in the final was ranked 361. She earned $2,940 for her efforts in the ITF event.
She reached her first final this season at Eastbourne and she'll be playing in her third semifinal of the year on Saturday. Before this year her best result was a quarterfinal appearance in Osaka last year.
"I think I'm playing good enough to win," Hampton said. "Whether I do or not, I don't know."
This weekend could provide her with the answer.
In other quarterfinal matches, third-seeded Dominka Cibulkova beat Urszula Radwanska, 7-5, 6-3 and fifth-seeded Sorana Cirstea topped Olga Govortsova, 6-3, 6-2.
Cibulkova, who will meet Cirstea in Saturday's 3 p.m. semifinal, has also been impressed with Stanford. She passed up college to turn pro, as well, and had time to explore the campus this week.
"I arrived her six days earlier and I did some runs around the university," she said. "It seems like it would be a nice place to study."
Cibulkova is playing in her sixth consecutive Bank of the West Classic, and reached her third consecutive quarterfinal. She reached the semifinal two years ago, withdrawing with an abdominal injury.