Nicole Gibbs played in the main draw of the US Open in 2012 and 2013 as the reigning NCAA singles champion.
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RELATED: USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge underway
By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com
For Nicole Gibbs, the third time is charmed.
The 21-year-old from Santa Monica, Calif., ensured a third consecutive appearance in the main draw of the US Open by winning the 2014 USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge. She also received a wild card into the US Open in 2012 and 2013 after winning the NCAA Tournament singles title those two years while competing for Stanford University.
Gibbs earned the wild card by virtue of her results on the USTA Pro Circuit, clinching her spot on Saturday when Madison Brengle defeated Melanie Oudin, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, in the semifinals of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Lexington, Ky. Oudin was the only other player who could have caught Gibbs in the standings.
Earlier in the day, Gibbs defeated fellow American Irina Falconi, 7-5, 6-4, in the other semifinal. Gibbs and Brengle will meet in Sunday's final, but Brengle's highest possible point total with a victory (109) couldn't surpass Gibbs' current total of 128.
The victory on Saturday was the ninth in a row for Gibbs, who last week won five matches to take the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Carson, Calif., her third career USTA Pro Circuit singles crown.
USTA Player Development awards a US Open main draw wild card to the American man and woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA ranking points, respectively, in a series of USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events this summer. The women’s tournaments are all $50,000 events, held in Sacramento, Calif., as well as Carson and Lexington. The men’s events are $50,000 Challengers in Lexington and in Binghamton, N.Y., as well as $100,000 Challengers in Vancouver, B.C., and Aptos, Calif.
Ranking points from two out of the three women’s events and two of the four men’s events are used and combined to calculate the point total that determines the US Open wild card recipient. Only players who have not earned direct acceptance into the US Open are eligible for the wild card.
Gibbs entered Lexington ranked a career-best No. 142 in the world. In addition to her summer hard-court run, she also advanced to the semifinals of the ITF-level Wimbledon tune-up event in Nottingham, England, and competed in qualifying for the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
As a college player, Gibbs won the two NCAA singles titles as well as the NCAA doubles title in 2012 with past USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge winner Mallory Burdette. She also led Stanford to the NCAA team title in 2013. As a junior player, Gibbs reached the semifinals of the 2011 US Open Junior Championships and was a two-time USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships runner-up.
Former Top 100 player Wayne Odesnik has the early lead among the men in the USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge, with one of four events completed.