Nicole Gibbs won her first title on the ITF Pro Circuit in three years after defeating Francesca Di Lorenzi 63 63 to win the $25,000 women’s circuit crown at the South Lifestyle Development Tennis Classic in Baton Rouge, Los Angeles on Sunday.
The title was particularly important for the 24-year-old American, whose last triumph on the ITF Circuit came at Carson in July 2014.
“It’s a really big deal for me,” said Gibbs. “I just found a lot of resources this week that I’m going to be able to use moving forward, both in terms of how I want to play my game and how I can handle myself emotionally and mentally on the court.”
Gibbs has had a difficult run this year, despite enjoying the perfect start to 2017 by reaching the third round at the Australian Open.
After that run in Melbourne, where she beat Timea Babos and Irina Falconi before falling to eventual champion Serena Williams, Gibbs went on a six-match losing streak in Pro Circuit and WTA events, finally stopping the rot with two wins in qualifying at Roland Garros, before winning a morale-boosting fifth ITF Pro Circuit title on Sunday.
Meanwhile, singles defeat meant for one of two runner-up finishes on Sunday for Di Lorenzi, with the 19-year-old Pittsburgh native also falling to Ellen Perez and Luisa Stefani 63 64 alongside her partner Julia Elbaba in the doubles final.
It was a sixth ITF Pro Circuit title for 21-year-old Australian Perez – and her second in a row in doubles at Baton Rouge – and a second for 19-year-old Brazilian Stefani, just a week after the pair finished runner-up in a close final at the $25,000 event in Sumter.
“Last week, it was close and we didn’t get it, and I think Ellen won here last year, so it was great to defend the title for her,” said Stefani. “Going back-to-back feels even better.”