First-round play in the $740,000 Mercury Insurance Open will begin today at the with four singles matches, including a matchup between U.S. Olympic team member Varvara Lepchenko and Nicole Gibbs, this year's NCAA Division I singles and doubles champion.
Lepchenko was born in Uzbekistan in 1986, moved to the United States in 2001 and became a citizen on Sept. 24. The Allentown, Pa., resident is 44th on the Women's Tennis Association rankings, third among U.S. players.
Gibbs is a Santa Monica resident who plays for Stanford.
Alexa Glatch of Newport Beach will face Lauren Davis of Boca Raton, Fla., in the day's opening match at 11 a.m. Glatch won two matches in qualifying play to reach the main draw while Davis received a wild card berth into the tournament. Davis is ranked 128th and Glatch 150th.
Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal will face Misaki Doi of Japan in the other afternoon singles match. The night session will begin at 7 p.m. with a match between sixth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Urszula Radwanska of Poland.
An exhibition match between U.S. Olympian Christina McHale, ranked 27th in the world and second among Americans, and 50th-ranked Sloane Stephens will be held on the flight deck of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum Monday.
Each of the top four seeded players in the 28-player singles draw received first-round byes. Marion Bartoli of France is seeded first, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia second, and Jelena Jankovic, a Serbian who built a home in Rancho Santa Fe, is seeded third. The field also includes Coco Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe, who is coming off her first appearance in a final of a WTA tournament, a 7-5, 6-3 loss to Serena Williams in the Bank of the West Classic Sunday at Stanford.
Tickets for the 2012 Mercury Insurance Open can be purchased at mercuryinsuranceopen.com
–City News Service