Now a fast-rising tennis pro, Nicole Gibbs came to Crossroads as a junior. Her father, Paul Gibbs, now her traveling coach, taught literature and history at Crossroads, along with coaching girls and boys tennis and cross-country and serving as Upper School Athletics director.
“The number-one thing I appreciated about Crossroads is the way it allows kids who have really strong passions and talents to excel in those fields and still get a good education,” says Nicole.
For her, that passion started early. By age 3, she was hitting tennis balls in the family driveway using a “net” her dad set up, essentially a board over two trash cans. At 7, she played in her first tournament. “I’ve always been competitive,” she admits.
Prepared by Crossroads’ ethic of independent thinking, she chose Stanford University for its combination of academics and athletics. She left in 2013 due to demands of the tour—though not before facing one of her idols, Serena Williams, at a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) match on the Stanford home court.
Throughout 2016, a stellar year for her, Nicole climbed in the rankings, reaching her career-high singles ranking—68 in the world—in July. She consistently competed in major WTA events, which took her to Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Beijing and beyond. Along the way, she soaked up the cultural experiences.
She has played in numerous Grand Slam tournaments: the elite Australian, French and U.S. opens, and the granddaddy, Wimbledon. In March 2016, she reached the fourth round at WTA’s Indian Wells tournament—"my standout result
so far,” she says.
A recent New Yorker magazine profile of Nicole praised her willingness to speak out on issues that are important to her, including gun control, climate change and equality for women. “Yes, there will always be players and fans who don’t agree with me, and perhaps I won’t win every popularity contest,” she shares in the piece. “But those who know me well know that I’m always down to have a calm discussion and talk through differences in opinion.”