Nicole Gibbs is spending next week in Newport Beach, but there won’t be much time for relaxing and tanning on the beach. Instead, the longtime Santa Monica resident Gibbs will be on the tennis court continuing her comeback season playing for the World TeamTennis Orange County Breakers.
There’s no place the 26-year-old Gibbs would rather be.
On Saturday, the San Diego Aviators visit Breakers Stadium at Palisades Tennis Club at 4 p.m., in a match featuring Southern California residents Victoria Azarenka (Breakers) and Taylor Fritz (Aviators). The 2016 WTT Female MVP and fan-favorite Gibbs is playing for fifth season in a row for the Breakers.
Gibbs figured prominently in the Breakers big 22-15 win over the New York Empire recently as she beat former US Open singles champion Sloane Stephens, 5-3, in singles and also teamed with Andreja Klepac to beat Stephens by the same score in doubles.
Gibbs’ 2019 has been filled with struggle and personal drama as the Stanford University alum and former two-time NCAA singles champion was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on the roof of her mouth.
Two weeks ago, Gibbs returned to tennis triumphantly following surgery, reaching the final of the USTA Pro Circuit Women’s $60,000 event in Hawaii.
Gibbs recently appeared on Sports Illustrated’s esteemed tennis writer Jon Wertheim’s Beyond the Baseline Podcast recently and said the health issues have put a new perspective not only on her tennis career, but life in general.
“…For me to have to face—even for three days—the idea that I might not be around anymore, I think it just puts everything in a completely new perspective,” she told Wertheim. “Maybe you think about tennis differently and view it with a lot more gratitude and also a lot less seriousness. I was like, wow, in the scheme of all the things I worry about on a day-to-day basis, it’s really kind of irrelevant.”
On July 10, @BreakersTennis tweeted out: “SHE IS BACK!!!!!!” and followed it up with:
– 53 days since surgery
– 28 days since removal of feeding tube
– 21 days since back on court
Gibbs said the WTT’s shortened season is perfect timing for her. “The World TeamTennis season could not come at a better time,” she said. “Can you imagine any better way to get back into it than playing 14 shortened format matches in 18 days. It’s literally as perfect as it could get.”
Gibbs said she her new focus on her tennis game will come with a cost, but doesn’t think investing more in herself is a risk.
“I’ve always been very stingy, always trying to find good deals, worrying about spending too much money and worrying about my bottom line,” she said. “I think moving forward I’m going to try to do tennis a lot less like that and a lot more as just this incredible experience that I’m lucky to be able to have and you know invest everything I have into it to see how good I can be. And then you know what if I don’t cut it, there will be other much more stable, much less risk-taking careers for after tennis.
“So I guess those were the biggest takeaways. Then just that permanent sense of gratitude that you get whatever you have a confrontation with mortality it’s really profound.”