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WTT Rewind: Nicole Gibbs Defeats Sloane Stephens After Beating Cancer (7/18/2019)

Posted on September 27, 2019
Sloane Stephens and Nicole Gibbs

We asked members of the WTT Family to share some of their favorite performance of the 2019 World TeamTennis season.  Each week, we’ll share those moments with you, explain why we though they were so special and give you a chance to relive them. Then share your thoughts and comments with us on social media using #WTTRewind!

This week, WTT Broadcaster Harry Cicma starts us off with his pick, which took place during the Orange County Breakers vs. New York Empire match on July 18, 2019 at the Cary Leeds Center in the Bronx.

BREAKERS vs. EMPIRE MATCH STATS & FULL VIDEO | BREAKERS vs. EMPIRE MATCH RECAP & PHOTOS

“I chose the set where Nicole Gibbs beat Sloane Stephens in Women’s Singles.  Nicole has been battling cancer and her will and determination were amazing during that match. She played some of the best tennis of the season with the convincing victory and it was pure heart and determination leading to the upset win.”

Gibbs led the visiting Orange County Breakers to a 22-15 overall win with a pair of victories, which included a 5-3 win against 2017 U.S. Open Champion Stephens in women’s singles. Stephens was at the time ranked No. 8 in the WTA Rankings, making her the highest ranked singles player in World TeamTennis at the time.

The 2016 WTT Female MVP helped Orange County win the King Trophy in 2017 and was a two-time NCAA Division I champion in singles at Stanford — as well as a doubles and team champion once — but scored the biggest victory of her life away from the tennis court earlier this year.

In early May, Gibbs announced on social media that she would be taking a break from tennis, as she was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, or cancer of the salivary gland.

Later that month, she underwent surgery and was proclaimed cancer-free.

“It gives you a new perspective, going through something like that,” Gibbs said after the match.

“My health is good and I’m back to pretty much 100 percent physically. It’s just building my body back in playing shape now.

“I just really want to enjoy being on the court, competing and doing what I love.”

The 26-year-old returned to professional tennis just the week before, and made the final of her comeback event, and her competitive spirit shone through as she battled the Empire.

After taking an early lead in the Women’s Singles set — the second event of the night — she scored her first singles win of the 2019 WTT season over the Empire’s Franchise Player with a decisive break in the final game.

“I started leaving the ball a little bit shorter, and I think I was a little tense wanting to get over the line for my teammates,” Gibbs added.

“I think I got a few errors from her in the end, and I was lucky to get through it, so I can hopefully build off that.

Nicole Gibbs vs. Sloane Stephens 7/18/2019