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An Interview With: Nicole Gibbs

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Q. Make you more proud the way you reacted in the third set, or more frustrated you couldn't close it in the second set?

NICOLE GIBBS: I think it's a little bit of both. Definitely in the moment I let myself down in that second set not being able to close out, but Anastasia played really well at the end of that second set. She kind of took it from me. But especially given the performance I had last week -- I was in New Haven and I had a couple of match points and I let the match go. Obviously that's fresh on my mind. To be able to come back and kind of finish out that third set on my terms the way I wanted to, I was very happy with myself.

Q. What is the difference between this year and last year? I mean, apart from the fact that you grew up one year.

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, I think it's a ton of things. It's, you know, being a little more seasoned on tour. I have obviously had a year of experience under my belt. Trying not to think as much as about wins and losses and more about my, you know, big picture development. Playing a completely different game style, I would say, than I was a year ago. I'm much more aggressive inside the court much more often.

Q. What has been the best day in terms of your career, I mean, until today?

NICOLE GIBBS: Before today?

Q. Yeah.

NICOLE GIBBS: Obviously I look back to my titles at Stanford very fondly, especially the team title. I think that was the most important to me.

Q. So when CiCi had a great win with all the hullabaloo, were you determined to have it so she wasn't the only player from the peninsula and Bay area to make...

NICOLE GIBBS: Oh, not at all. I'm so proud of what she's been able to do. You know, I haven't gotten to know her super well, but she seems like an awesome girl. Really good fighter. I'm 100% behind her. I want her to do as well as she can here.

Q. You never hit with her?

NICOLE GIBBS: You know, I never did, but a lot of my teammates at Stanford used to hit with her when I was at school. They would come back and say, This girl is going to be amazing. She's such a good hitter.

Q. You have really had a great summer winning the challenger system, win over Schiavone, Carson. What has this meant to you?

NICOLE GIBBS: You know, I haven't had a whole lot of time to reflect on it. Obviously I'm still in the midst of it, but, you know, just really happy to see the hard work I have done in changing my game style and, you know, approaching things a little bit differently. Excited to see that pay off, for sure.

Q. I think your Twitter handle is, Sports don't build character, they reveal it. Could you just take a minute and what does that mean to you.

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, I always love that quote. I think it's a John Wooden quote. I'm not 100% sure, so don't quote me on that. I think it's just really important to share your grit out there. Try to be as professional as you can, but also show a lot of heart on the court.

Q. When you lost that second set, I mean, what's sort of going into your mind going into the third set? Is it like an oh-crap moment, or were you pretty calm at that point still?

NICOLE GIBBS: I would not have described myself as calm after having lost that second set. I was again very disappointed in myself. But I guess I kind of looked back on the previous two sets and saw that, you know, when I was going after my shots and playing the match on my terms I had been doing really well. So I just wanted to take that mentality into the third set.

Q. One year ago you lost to Pennetta here the first round. What do you remember of that match?

NICOLE GIBBS: I remember being down 6-0, 4-0 and thinking I may not get a game at the US Open. So hopefully a better performance tomorrow. But we'll see. She's an amazing player.

Q. Put a lot of thought into how the transition college to pros would go. What surprised you about how that's all gone and what you've needed to adjust along the way?

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, I think just the biggest thing is the lifestyle adjustment. Obviously in college you have your friends all around you. You have like a very clear home base. On tour you can be on a different continent week to week. It's just a lot less stability, I would say. So it's taken me a while to kind of adjust to that, but I have actually really enjoying the lifestyle now.

Q. What do you think about the amateurs and rules as they regard tennis? Younger players, like CiCi, earned $60,000 this week and can't keep it because she might go to college three years from now.

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, didn't they change it so you can take 10,000 a year or something now? For me, that makes a lot of sense. You want to keep the sport amateur in college, and by allowing someone $10,000 a year they are at least a good chunk of the way towards funding their tennis for that year. So I think it makes sense what they are doing now.

Q. You're one of 12 American women in the second round and only three men. Why do you think the women have been able to do a lot better in this era?

NICOLE GIBBS: You know, I honestly couldn't tell you. I don't spend a lot of time playing on the men's side, so I don't know what it is with American tennis on the men's side that's been more challenging. But I just know on the women's side the USTA has been doing an incredible job developing players.

Q. It used to be that you play for the cardinal and then pretty soon go on the tour and have a really high ranking. It's been pretty tough recently to transition from college to the pro circuit. Talk about your thoughts about that transition. What do you really have to do? Is going to college still viable, also?

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, absolutely college is viable. I don't think I'd be sitting here right now if college wasn't a viable option. I think everybody has the opportunity to improve there. As I said, there's just going to be a lifestyle and gamestyle adjustment that some players, like myself, have to go through to get more offensive minded, more comfortable on the road, all those sorts of things. But I feel like I have a great foundation for, you know, adapting to that new strain of stress and new level of tennis having gone to college.

Q. The one thing your coach at Stanford gave you, what was the one greatest take away? Talk about her contribution to your game.

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, she's incredible. She's just a real believer in our players. She only is going to recruit players that she really believes in. She's always felt that I can make it to the next level and has been 100% supportive of, you know, my transition and where she thinks I can be.

Q. Can you spell the name of the coach?

NICOLE GIBBS: L-e-l-e, F-o-r-o-o-d.

Q. Were you nervous about I guess that transition when you first got on to the pro circuit? Was there some fear, I guess?

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, there's fear. Especially having left college early. I didn't finish my degree. I'm still a year away from doing that. It's kind of like a fear of what if that was stupid or like if I thought I was better than I am, like all that sort of stuff. That's the sort of stuff you have to weed out and just focus on I made this decision, this is what I'm doing with my life, and I'm going to try to enjoy it every step of the way.

Q. You did so now, obviously, right? You're glad you did so now, that you left early?

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, absolutely. I had always, you know, felt confident in my decision. It's just, you know, it can be tough if you take a couple hard losses or anything.

Q. When last US Open you saw Pennetta reaching the semifinals, were you somehow relieved? Well, I lost to someone who is...

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, I felt pretty demoralized out there on the court last year, so I felt a little bit redeemed by the fact that she did well. But, again, you want to get more than two games when you go to the US Open, so I'm hoping for better.

Q. Tennis is a game with great highs and brutal lows. That ridiculous let cord winner deep into the second set, that couldn't have been any fun. And then you hit the great topspin forehand winner. Just talk about the ups and the downs in tennis? And do you try not to get too high, or is it just impossible not to react to the downs and the ups?

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, you definitely want to keep yourself somewhere in the middle. You know, you can't celebrate too much when you're winning, because then you have to like feel all those emotions when you're losing, too. Again, it's all about the bigger picture, thinking about where you want your game to be, and the rest falls into place. You can't ride the highs and the lows, otherwise it's too unstable, I guess.

Q. You were a student. What were you studying? What was your major?

NICOLE GIBBS: Oh, I was studying economics. That was my major.

Q. Did the net cord give you a flashback to Roehamton at all?

NICOLE GIBBS: No. I wasn't thinking about that at the time, but thank you for bringing that up.

Q. Your dad was traveling with you on the tour, right?

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, he's actually just started. We have had a really good stretch since he's been able to travel with me. He started at Wimbledon this year. Formerly he was working full time as a teacher, and he is now going a different route. Kind of looking to get a new set of education credentials, so it works out nicely. He can travel with me and kind of do this.

Q. Are you in touch with Mallory at all?


Q. How is she doing?

NICOLE GIBBS: I think she's doing well. You know, I haven't heard from her recently, but I know she's trying to come back. I was excited about that.

Q. What were the details of your dad's teaching?

NICOLE GIBBS: He was a high school English teacher, and it was kind of weird, because we were all living in LA. Then my mom got a job in Iowa that she had to take. So our family was kind of apart for a year, so he's finally moving to Iowa to be with her. So he's not teaching there anymore.

Q. What high school?

NICOLE GIBBS: Crossroads High School, Santa Monica.

Q. You didn't go there yourself?

NICOLE GIBBS: I did. Yeah, I did while he taught there. It was weird.

Q. Did you take his class?

NICOLE GIBBS: No. Despite his best efforts (smiling).

Q. How does it help to have him traveling with you? You're pretty new to this still.

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, it's a support system. Like I said, you don't want to ride the highs or lows, and for sure in the tough moments. It's nice to have someone there to kind of lift you up.