Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Gibbs triumphs in return from cancer surgery

Nicole Gibbs, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge
last July, beat qualifier Sophia Whittle today in the first round of the
$60,000 Tennis Championships of Honolulu. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In her first match since undergoing cancer surgery, second-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) beat qualifier Sophia Whittle 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3 today in the first round of the $60,000 Tennis Championships of Honolulu.
   The match lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes in 80-degree (26.7 Celsius) heat and 67 percent humidity.
   Gibbs, 26, played for the first time since losing in the first round of a $100,000 clay-court tournament in Bonita Springs, Fla., in early May. She had surgery for a rare cancer in the roof of her mouth on May 17 in Los Angeles.
   Whittle, from Nipomo, Calif., (near San Luis Obispo), ended her Gonzaga career in May ranked ninth nationally in singles. She received a wild card into qualifying and edged fourth-seeded Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 5-7, 6-1 [10-7] on Tuesday to advance to the main draw.
   Gibbs, who won three NCAA titles (two in singles and one in doubles) in her three years at Stanford, is scheduled to play another qualifier, Alycia Parks of Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday. Parks, an 18-year-old professional, defeated yet another qualifier, former Oklahoma State star Vladica Babic of Montenegro, 6-3, 6-4.
   Babic and Sofia Blanco of Argentina reached the NCAA doubles final in 2018, losing to Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson of LSU in Winston-Salem, N.C.
   Gibbs advanced to the final of last year's $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge, falling to Sofia Kenin, now ranked 28th in the world. The main draw of this year's Berkeley tournament is set to begin Tuesday.
   Altamirano scores upset – Collin Altamirano, a 23-year-old Sacramentan, routed former University of Virginia teammate Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion, 6-3, 6-0 in the second round of the $54,160 Nielsen Pro Tennis Championship in Winnetka, Ill.
   Altamirano, who broke through to reach his first Challenger semifinal last year in Winnetka as a qualifier, is scheduled play fourth-seeded Denis Istomin, 32, of Uzbekistan on Thursday.
   Istomin advanced to the fourth round of the 2017 Australian Open, stunning six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the second round. Istomin also reached the final of the 2012 SAP Open in San Jose, falling to Milos Raonic, and climbed to a career-high No. 33 later that year.

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