No. 4 seed Melanie Oudin will meet No. 2 and defending champion Nicole Gibbs in the Carson final.
© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CARSON, Calif. – Melanie Oudin and Nicole Gibbs survived sluggish first-set losses to advance to Sunday’s singles final at the USTA Player Development Women’s $50,000 Classic, being played at the USTA Training Center – West at StubHub Center.
Both players called the first game of the second set the turning point in their matches.
The No. 4-seeded Oudin dropped the first set to unseeded American Sanaz Marand but came back to win 10 games in a row at one point to roll, 2-6, 6-0, 6-1, over the former University of North Carolina lefthander.
“I was trying to step in and take the ball early, but I just could not find my timing,” said Oudin, 22, who went back out on a practice court with her coach for 20 minutes after the match. “I had never faced her before or even practiced with her. She has a really heavy forehand, so I started playing her backhand in the second set.
The defending champion and No. 2-seeded Gibbs also dropped the first set against 18-year-old New Yorker Louisa Chirico and had a bit of a tougher time closing her out, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was the third time the two had squared off this year, and each time it has gone three sets. Just last week at the Sacramento Challenger, Chirico eliminated Gibbs in the second round.
“She came out very strong and won like the first nine points of the match,” said Gibbs, 21. “She was the aggressor and wasn’t making any errors. It was a little bit of an intimidating start. But I started to make some more balls and force the issue with her.
“The first game of the second set I just felt more energized,” Gibbs added.
Oudin and Gibbs have never met as pros, but Gibbs did recall the first and only time the two played each other – at the Carson International Spring Championships when they were juniors.
“I must have been 13, and she was 14, and it was right over there on that exact court,” said Gibbs, pointing to Court 4, which serves as the featured court. “She just destroyed me. It was back when she was winning everything. Hopefully it will be a different result.”
Gibbs said she not only looks up to Oudin because of her successful pro career, which includes a US Open quarterfinal appearance at age 17, a US Open mixed doubles title, one WTA singles title and a career-high WTA ranking of 31 back in 2010, but because of her 5-foot-6 height.
“I have a ton of respect for her,” Gibbs said. “She’s definitely someone I’ve looked up to, for one reason because of her stature. A lot of people think tennis is only for tall girls and big hitters.”
The top-seeded doubles team of Olivia Rogowska of Austria and Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands captured the doubles title and will split the $2,786 for their 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory over the young U.S. pairing of Samantha Crawford and Sachia Vickery, who split $1,053.
Sunday’s singles final will take place at 10 a.m.
- Singles Final: No. 4 seed Melanie Oudin vs. No. 2 seed Nicole Gibbs
The tournament is being streamed live here.
The USTA Pro Circuit event in Carson is taking the place of a women’s tournament in Yakima, Wash., that was faced with a fire in mid-May. The fire destroyed the host site’s clubhouse and impacted some of the adjoining tennis courts.
Admission is free and open to the public all week. For additional information about the USTA Player Development Women’s $50,000 Classic, visit www.usta.com/carson.