Bank of the West Classic: No Gordon but plenty of Gibbs

Nicole Gibbs plays Wimbledon junior champion Claire Lu at the Bank of the West Classic on Monday night, following Maria Sharapova's match at 7 pm. Photo by Zachary Hoffman

Stanford incoming freshman Michaela Gordon's impressive qualifying run at the Bank of the West Classic came to an end Sunday evening at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Gordon came up short in her bid to reach the 32-player main draw, falling 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) to seventh-seeded Marina Erakovic of New Zealand in the second round of qualifying, a match that went nearly three hours.

Catherine "Cici" Bellis. Photo by Harjanto Sumali.

Melissa Lord. Photo by Harjanto Sumali.
A native of nearby Saratoga, the 18-year-old Gordon joined rising sophomore Emma Higuchi as the two Cardinal competitors in the qualifying field.

On Saturday, Gordon upset former Arizona State All-American Jacqueline Cako 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a match that took two hours and 22 minutes to complete, giving her a total of just over five hours of competitive tennis time on her next home court.

In the opening qualifying match, UCLA sophomore Caroline Dolehide rallied after dropping the opening set, defeating Australian Lizette Cabrera 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The second match saw the top-seeded player in qualifying Veronica Cepede Royg from Paraguay knock off the always-dangerous Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

The final match on stadium between Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) and Gordon was a nip and tuck affair to the very end. Gordon, 24 hours removed from her upset win over Jacqueline Cako, looked in fine form taking the first set 6-3.

The more experienced Erakovic found her form and took the second set 6-3.

The third-set went back and forth with Erakovic jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Gordon battled back and the final set went to a tiebreak. Just like the third set, the tiebreak followed the same script with Erakovic jumping out to a 4-0 lead before Gordon fought back to pull within 6-5. However, Erakovic closed it out to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

With all the excitement on stadium, it was easy to miss the final qualifier of the day, American Danielle Lao upset fellow American Asia Muhammad 7-5, 6-3.

Atherton resident CiCi Bellis, who was all set to play at Stanford before turning pro, makes help turn the first round of play into a neighborhood social.

Stanford will also be represented when the main draw gets underway Monday, with former All-Americans Kristie Ahn and Nicole Gibbs scheduled to compete. Ahn and Gibbs, who will team up in doubles later in the week, were members of Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team.

Gibbs takes the court Monday, facing wildcard and Wimbledon Junior champion Claire Liu in the second match of the night session, which begins at 7 p.m.

Currently ranked No. 125 in the world, Gibbs has been competing on the WTA tour since 2013, months after electing to turn pro following her junior season on The Farm. An All-American in singles during each of her three seasons (2011-13) at Stanford, Gibbs was a two-time NCAA Singles champion (2012, 2013) and teamed with Mallory Burdette to capture the 2012 NCAA Doubles crown.

Gibbs, who helped guide Stanford to a national title in 2013, wrapped up her career with a 111-15 overall record and was 65-6 in duals. One of seven Cardinal players named to the Pac-12 All-Century Team, Gibbs was also a three-time all-conference pick and her 27 dual match wins in 2011 rank third in school history.

The doubles draw will also feature the all-Cardinal pairing of rising junior Melissa Lord and former Stanford All-American Carol Zhao squaring off against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Olga Savchuk.

One year after holding down the No. 6 spot, Lord accelerated her development as a sophomore in 2017 by becoming the 60th All-American in school history. Earning a No. 19 final national ranking, Lord finished 29-6 overall and 19-4 in duals while playing the majority of her matches at the No. 2 position.

Lord further established her reputation as one of Stanford's most clutch players, winning four matches in NCAA team play to improve to 10-0 in her short career. Lord also claimed her first career singles title in January at the Freeman Memorial Championships.

A three-time All-American and 2015 NCAA Singles runner-up, Zhao played a key role in Stanford's 2016 NCAA championship run before foregoing her senior season to turn pro.

Zhao concluded her career on The Farm having compiled a 76-16 overall record and 51-8 dual match mark. Zhao was a three-time all-conference pick and consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 in singles throughout her career, including a career-high No. 1 ranking in the 2016 preseason poll.

— Stanford Athletics/Bank of the West Classic

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