Monday, June 25, 2018

Teen with disability to face Gibbs in Wimbledon qualies

   The most remarkable player at Wimbledon this year won't be Roger Federer or Serena Williams.
   Francesca Jones, who has just a thumb and three fingers on each hand and seven toes, is scheduled to face fifth-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) on Tuesday in the first round of qualifying.
   Jones, a 17-year-old wild card from Great Britain ranked No. 547 in the world, was born with Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED). At 9, she moved without her family to a tennis academy in Barcelona and had lived there alone for the past 6 1/2 years, The Daily Telegraph of Great Britain reported in 2016.
   Jones has lost count of the number of operations she has endured but said she needed three on her wrist in the 12 months before the Daily Telegraph story because a bone started to tear through a tendon.
   Rather than feel sorry for herself, Jones remains upbeat.
   "My syndrome is something that has really helped me become the person I am today," Jones told The Daily Telegraph after losing in the second round of girls singles at Wimbledon in 2016. "To a certain extent, I am happy that I have it because it has made me who I am. Hopefully it is going to help me achieve a successful future."
   Although her level is higher, Jones is reminiscent of former NCAA Division I players Roger Crawford and Thomas Hunt, both of whom have Northern California connections. Crawford, who has a more severe case of EED, grew up in Danville in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay. Hunt, a New Zealander who was born without half of his left arm, played at Saint Mary's in Moraga in the Bay Area.
   The Jones-Gibbs match will be one of three involving a former Stanford All-American in women's qualifying on Tuesday. No. 20 seed Carol Zhao (2014-16) of Canada will meet Deborah Chiesa of Italy, and American Kristie Ahn (2011-14) will play Daniela Seguel of Chile.
   On the men's side, ex-Stanford star Bradley Klahn and San Jose product Dennis Novikov today reached the second round of qualifying.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander from Poway in the San Diego area, outclassed Ricardo Ojeda Lara of Spain 6-3, 6-2. Novikov, a 24-year-old Los Angeles resident, beat 18th-seeded Calvin Hemery of France 5-1, retired.
   Klahn will play Antoine Hoang of France, and Novikov will take on countryman Christian Harrison, the younger brother of 58th-ranked Ryan Harrison.

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