|Nicole Gibbs follows through on a forehand during last|
week's Stockton Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
Playing on their former home court at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium. Gibbs, 23, of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area defeated Zhao, a 21-year-old wild card from Canada, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.
"Disappointed but not discouraged," Zhao tweeted. "This will always be one of my favourite courts to play on. I'll be back!"
Both Gibbs and Zhao are undersized, played No. 1 for Stanford, led the Cardinal to an NCAA team title and turned pro after their junior year.
The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs, however, had the more celebrated collegiate career. She won the NCAA singles title in 2012 and 2013 and the doubles crown in 2012 with Mallory Burdette.
The 5-foot-5 (1.55-meter) Zhao reached the NCAA singles final as a sophomore last year, losing to Jamie Loeb of North Carolina.
Gibbs, ranked No. 71, will face No. 4 seed CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego region, on Thursday at 7 p.m. Vandeweghe, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams as a lucky loser, received a first-round bye.
CiCi Bellis, a 17-year-old wild card from nearby Atherton, will take on No. 6 seed Jelena Ostapenko, a 19-year-old Latvian, on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Ostapenko, ranked No. 38, and Bellis, No. 203, have met once. Ostapenko won 6-3, 6-2 in the final round of qualifying for last year's U.S. Open.
In 2014, Ostapenko won the Wimbledon girls title and Bellis shocked No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the women's main draw in the U.S. Open. Also, Bellis ended the year as the top junior in the world.
First roundSaisai Zheng, China, def. Maria Mateas, United States, 7-5, 6-1.
Nao Hibino, Japan, def. Veronica Cepede Royg, Paraguay, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Alize Cornet (7), France, def. Jennifer Brady, United States, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Ana Bogdan, Romania, def. Asia Muhammad, United States, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
Nicole Gibbs, United States, def. Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Misaki Doi (5), Japan, def. Xinyun Han, China, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2.
First roundDarija Jurak, Croatia, and Anastasia Rodionova (3), Australia, def. Julia Boserup, United States, and Elitsa Kostova, Bulgaria, 6-2, 6-2.
Kveta Peschke, Czech Republic, and Anna-Lena Groenefeld (4), Germany, def. Veronica Cepede Royg, Pagaguay, and Maria Irigoyen, Argentina, 6-4, 3-6 [11-9].
Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, Ukraine, def. CiCi Bellis, Atherton, Calif., and Jennifer Brady, United States, 6-2, 6-3.
(Beginning at 11 a.m.)
StadiumJulia Boserup, United States, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic, vs. Magda Linette, Poland (not before 1 p.m.).
Alison Riske, United States, vs. Varvara Lepchenko (8), United States.
CiCi Bellis, Atherton, Calif., vs. Jelena Ostapenko (6), Latvia (not before 7 p.m.).
Sachia Vickery, United States, vs. Elitsa Kostova, Bulgaria.
Court 6Urszula Radwanska, Poland, vs. Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine.
Xinyun Han and Chen Liang, China, vs. Johanna Konta, Great Britain, and Maria Sanchez, United States.
Misaki Doi and Nao Hibino, Japan, vs. Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend, United States.
Yifan Xu and Saisai Zheng (1), China, vs. Yuliya Beygelzimer, Ukraine, and Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic.