Stanford's Gibbs finishes collegiate career with consecutive singles crown
URBANA, Ill. -- When it was all said and done, junior Nicole Gibbs saved her best for last, defeating Nebraska's Mary Weatherholt 6-2, 6-4 on Monday afternoon to become the first repeat NCAA singles champion since former Cardinal standout Amber Liu (2003-04).
The All-American from Santa Monica, Calif., ripped through the postseason competition, winning all six of her NCAA contests in straight sets and closing out the year on a 14-match winning streak. In the process, Gibbs improved her career record to 30-1 during the month of May (including all NCAA team and individual play).
Gibbs' individual accomplishment was that much more impressive, considering she was coming off such an emotionally charged run to the team title.
"I'm so happy to have won both the team and singles title," Gibbs said. "But it was so sweet to win with the team. No memory can replace that."
For at least one more hour on Monday morning, Stanford fans were treated to another dominating performance by one of the storied program's all-time greats. Becoming Stanford's 16th all-time collegiate singles champion (14 NCAA, 2 AIAW), Gibbs collected her 111th career victory and will leave behind a legacy of elite tennis.
Gibbs, who earlier this spring publicly voiced her decision to turn pro and forego her senior year, will now focus on elevating her game to the next level. For the past two weeks in Urbana, Ill., and really since the day she first stepped foot on The Farm, it's been evident the two-time NCAA singles champion is simply on another level than her opponents.
That was the case on Monday against Weatherholt, a senior All-American and winningest player in Nebraska history who entered the championship match with only one loss. Weatherholt's tourney resume was also impressive, including victories against Cal's Klara Fabikova and UCLA's Robin Anderson, an opponent who handed Gibbs one of her four losses in 2013.
Then again, why should Gibbs be intimidated by any college player? After all, she's battled Serena Williams on her home court inside the Taube Family Tennis Stadium and has since continued to compete in pro tournaments with the objective of gaining experience and improving her ranking.
Gibbs bolted out to a 4-1 lead in the first set and closed out the frame 6-2 after she and Weatherholt alternated games.
Early momentum favored Weatherholt in the second set, racing to a 2-0 lead and handing Gibbs her first multi-game deficit in several days. Gibbs battled back to 2-2, only to see Weatherholt move back in front 3-2.
After Gibbs evened the match at three, Weatherholt required attention from the trainers and it became clear she was not at full strength. She has battled injury during her career, redshirting the 2010-11 campaign after suffering an ACL tear.
Tied at four in the second set, Gibbs found another gear and closed out the match 6-4.
Gibbs is only the second Stanford player to win an NCAA team, singles and doubles title in her career, teaming with Mallory Burdette to capture the 2012 doubles crown.
Gibbs also became the first player to capture the team and singles title in the same year since Duke's Mallory Cecil (2009) in College Station, Texas.