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Burdette shows maturity after Bank of West loss yesterday

Loses to Italian Francesca Schiavone in first round of Bank of the West Classic

Mallory Burdette went from college All-American to professional tennis player, literally, overnight.

Less than a year later, she appeared poised and confident after losing to Italian Francesca Schiavone, 7-5, 6-3, in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic on Monday.

Cardinal senior Nicole Gibbs, who turned pro moments after winning both the NCAA team and singles titles in May, won her second straight first-round match at the Bank of the West, beating The Netherlands' Kiki Bertens, 6-4, 6-1.

Gibbs, who entered the tournament ranked 191th, knocked off her highest-rated opponent in the 67th-ranked Bertens.

Gibbs, who will meet No. 4 seed Jamie Hampton on Wednesday, recorded a mark of 56-5 in college matches played at Stanford.

Burdette reached the third round of the U.S. Open last September while still retaining her amateur status for Stanford.

Her performance in New York, though, convinced her she was ready for the big time.

A year after making her WTA main draw debut, Burdette seems to be in much more control and focused on her game.

"That was a tough one," Burdette said after losing to Schiavone. "I played a great champion but overall I did some things well. I've taken some steps forward the last few weeks after taking time off."

Burdette, ranked 76th, was playing for the first time since losing in the first round of Wimbledon.

"This is the first tournament I was defending points," Burdette said. "That's something new for me. Hopefully I will become more confident and comfortable and continue building."

Burdette is one of 11 Americans ranked among the top 100, peaking at 68 the week of June 24. She does have three wins over the top 50 this season, including then No. 27 Tamira Paszek of Austria at Indian Wells.

"The Americans try to stay close," Burdette said. "I can say I've met some great friends. I've learned a lot this year. Coming to tournaments for the first time, I think I won the award for asking the most questions."

Burdette was coached by older sister Lindsay Burdette during the tournament. Mallory does not have an official traveling coach.

"She told me I looked like I belonged out there," Burdette said. "I'm happy with the way I handled myself at times, even I was frustrated."

The eldest sister, Erin, was also in attendance. All three were All-Americans at Stanford.

Mallory was in Brussels while the Cardinal was making its NCAA title run in May.

"I think my neighbors in the hotel thought I was crazy," she said. "I was waking up in the middle of the night and screaming at my computer. It was definitely a lot of fun to see them make that great run and take the title. I was so proud of them."

The 59th-ranked Schiavone is making her fifth appearance at Stanford and her first since 2008.

Gibbs used the home court advantage in her favor after a lengthy first set.

Trailing 4-3 in the first frame, Gibbs won eight consecutive games spanning both sets before Bertens finally salvaged a game to make it 5-1.

"You might have noticed a lot of the fans in the crowd were football players," Gibbs said. "Those are my trusted friends during my three years at Stanford and they come to see me play as much as they can. It was a lot of fun to play in front of them."

Gibbs finished her Stanford career with a 111-15 overall record (65-6 in dual play).

The decision to turn pro has paid off. Gibbs won the Yakima Regional Challenger Title ($50K ITF) last weekend.

Her appearance in the second round at Stanford guarantees her $10,700 in earnings this week.

Gibbs will play doubles with American Coco Vandeweghe after original partner Maria Sanchez was injured.

"I texted Nicole and told her to dump Sanchez and play with me," Vandeweghe said. "After Maria got hurt she texted me back and asked if I was still looking for a partner. I said, 'sure,' let's do it."

Gibbs and Vandeweghe open doubles play Tuesday with a match against Asia Muhammed, whose younger brother Shabazz Muhammad plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Florida grad Allie Will during the morning session.

Vandeweghe also warmed up with Burdette before Monday's matches, explaining Burdette hits a better ball.

Burdette will play doubles with Sorana Cirstea of Romania, who beat Japan's Ayumi Morita, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round.

Burdette had a 104-22 overall record (60-8 in dual play) in three seasons at Stanford.

Palo Alto Online Sports

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