Above photo: Canadian Filip Peliwo. Photo courtesy of Karl Mendoza at www.kamera8studios.ca.
News from the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, July 8-16 at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
The evening match on Stadium Court (6 pm) will feature No. 1 men’s seed and 2016 finalist Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia vs. Frank Dancevic of Canada in an opening round contest. Canadians Carol Zhao and Aleksandra Wozniack will play women’s singles second round matches Wednesday on Stadium Court.
No. 1 Seed Gibbs Defeats Canadian
In her opening match at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, No. 1 seed Nicole Gibbs of the United States beat Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada 6-1, 6-2 Tuesday on Stadium Court.
“I think it was a solid win,” said Gibbs. “She’s got a lot of weapons so I definitely wanted to make sure I was imposing myself and not letting her control the points and I think I did a good job of that.”
Ranked No. 117 in the world, Gibbs made the final of her last two $25,000 ITF women’s circuit events: she beat Francesca Di Lorenzo to win the title in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (June 20-25) and finished runner-up to Miharu Imanishi in Auburn, Alabama (June 27-July 2).
“I’m playing the way I want to play,” said Gibbs, who reached a career high ranking of No. 68 last July. “I’m looking for forehands and I’m being aggressive. I just really want to continue that form throughout this event.”
Earlier this year Gibbs advanced to the third round of the Australian Open before losing 6-1, 6-3 to eventual champion Serena Williams.
“Obviously to play Serena on (Rod) Laver (Arena) was pretty unbelievable – definitely one of the experiences I’ll look back on at the end of my tennis career really fondly,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs had an outstanding tennis career at Stanford University, winning the NCAA singles championship in 2012 and ’13 in addition to claiming an NCAA doubles title and an NCAA team title. Her record at Stanford was 111-15.
“It gave me all the confidence in the world that I could compete at this level,” Gibbs said of her success at Stanford. “Just learning how to build tournaments and how to win was really important for me. I was able to carry a lot of that momentum on to Challenger level events like these.”
Youngsters Compete At Challenger
Promising Canadian juniors Isabelle Boulais and Jack Mingjie Lin were granted wildcards into the main singles draws of the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger. Boulais saved a match point in the second set tiebreak Tuesday against Jessika Ponchet of France before falling 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3.
“Overall I’m pretty happy,” said Boulais after the match. “I did what I was working on the past couple of weeks. I’m pretty proud of myself for staying in there even when I was down match point.”
Boulais, 17, has won five national junior titles in singles and doubles. She is going into Grade 12 and will play at Ohio State University in the fall of 2018.
Boulais, who took up the sport at age four, is the daughter of former professional tennis player Patricia Hy-Boulais and Yves Boulais (who coached Patricia). She trains at the Ontario Racquet Club in Mississauga, Ontario, where her dad is the tennis director.
“They got me started, they keep me going, they encourage when I need it and push me to my full potential,” Boulais said of her parents. “But it’s always been my decision to play tennis.”
Lin, meanwhile, lost 6-2, 6-0 Tuesday to Japan’s Yusuke Takahashi.
“That was a great experience for me to play my first main draw Challenger,” Lin said.
Lin is the 2014 U16 Outdoor Rogers Junior Nationals boys’ singles champion. The 18-year-old from Markham, Ontario trains at the National Training Centre in Montreal. He’ll soon begin his freshman year with the Columbia College tennis team in New York.
Last summer at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Lin was defeated 6-1, 6-3 by American Tim Smyczek in the first round of qualifying. Lin found out only a day before the match he had been awarded a wildcard into the qualifying draw.
“Playing the Rogers Cup for the first time, even in the qualies, was an amazing experience,” said Lin. “The crowd was really behind me.”