Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bellis, 16, to play in Bank of the West at Stanford

CiCi Bellis, then 15, addresses the media after stunning 12th-seeded Dominika
Cibulkova, the 2014 Australian Open runner-up, last August in the first round
of the U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of USTA.
   Growing up practically around the corner in Atherton, CiCi Bellis attended the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford annually.
   "That's (CiCi's) favorite tournament," Lori Bellis, CiCi's mother, said in an exclusive interview with NorCal Tennis Czar three years ago (see profile of CiCi here). "We go to qualifying. We go every night (during the main draw) and stay until the doubles is over at midnight."
   As a tiny but promising 12-year-old player, CiCi was involved in the coin flip for the second-round match between Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova in the Bank of the West Classic.
   Four years later, Bellis accepted a wild card to play in the tournament for the first time, officials announced on Wednesday.
   Joining Bellis in the Aug. 3-9 tournament at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium will be three of the top 10 players in the world and eight of the top 20.
   Heading the field are No. 1 Serena Williams, the defending and three-time champion; No. 9 Carla Suarez Navarro, who won last year's doubles title with fellow Spaniard Garbine Muguruza; and No. 10 Angelique Kerber, last year's singles runner-up from Germany. 
   Also entered are No. 11 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, No. 14 Andrea Petkovic of Germany, No. 17 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, No. 18 Sabine Lisicki of Germany, No. 20 Muguruza and No. 21 Madison Keys. 
   Lisicki set records with a 131-mph (210.8-kph) serve in last year's Bank of the West Classic and 27 aces in her second-round victory in last week's Aegon Classic in Birmingham, England.
   Keys, now 20, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in January.
   Bellis last year at 15 became the youngest player to win the USTA Girls 18 National Hardcourt Championships since Lindsay Davenport in 1991.
   That gave Bellis a berth in the women's draw at the U.S. Open, where she stunned No. 12 seed and 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the first round. Bellis thereby became the youngest player to win a main-draw match in Flushing Meadows since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996.
   Bellis ended last year as the top-ranked junior in the world. Still an amateur, she has won three Challenger (minor-league) singles titles and climbed to No. 168 in the women's world rankings.
   Tickets for the Bank of the West Classic are available at bankofthewestclassic.com or 866- WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497).
BANK OF THE WEST ACCEPTANCE LIST
1. Serena Williams (USA)
2. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
3. Angelique Kerber (GER)
4. Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
5. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
6. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
7. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
8. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
9. Madison Keys (USA)
10. Caroline Garcia (FRA)
11. Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
12. Daria Gavrilova (RUS)
13. Alison Riske (USA)
14. Mona Barthel (GER)
15. Carina Witthoeft (GER)
16. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)
17. Ana Konjuh (CRO)
18. Saisai Zheng (CHN)
19. Katerina Siniakova (CZE)
20. Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS)

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