Huskies Open Dual Season in the Hawaiian Sun

Jan. 16, 2008

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THIS WEEK: The recharged Husky women's tennis team says aloha to the 2008 dual season as they travel to Honolulu for matches against No. 56 Sacramento State and the Rainbow Wahine of the University of Hawai'i. Washington begins the season 70th in the ITA Rankings, but with a talented freshman class and full roster, the Huskies hope to climb much higher. The new season begins on Saturday vs. Sacramento State at 12 p.m. PT, followed by a Sunday match with Hawai'i at 1 p.m. PT.

SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE: The Hornets of Sacramento State are ranked 56th and will be playing their first dual match of the year against Washington. They are coming off a 17-7 season in which they were the Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament champions. The Hornets reached the NCAA tournament but lost to top-seeded Stanford in the first round, 4-1. Sacramento State's top five singles players all return, led by sophomore Katrina Zheltova, who is ranked 63rd in singles. Zheltova reached the Round of 16 at ITA NW Regionals in the fall and was the eighth seed. She also reached the second round of the NCAA Championships last year as just a freshman. Last season, the Hornets defeated the Huskies, 4-3, in Seattle. UW had only six players available for the match but nearly pulled it out. Zheltova defeated Tara Simpson at No. 1 singles, but UW's Joyce Ardies had a big win over Anastassia Lyssenko in the No. 2 slot. Husky Allison Rainey also had a win over Joyce Martinez Gutierrez at No. 5. The Hornets are coached by Dima Hrynashka.

SCOUTING HAWAI'I: The Rainbow Wahine are unranked with an 0-2 record but still look to be formidable on their home court. Hawai'i had a 2-1 lead on 26th-ranked BYU before falling, 5-2. Sophomore Sophie Kobuch scored a big upset at No. 1 singles over No. 59 Anastasia Surkova, 6-4, 6-4. Senior Chloe Bihag also earned a point at No. 2 singles. In 2007, Hawai'i posted a 6-17 record, losing in the second round of the WAC Championships to Boise State. The Huskies faced several Hawai'i players in a season-opening tournament in 2007. Notable matches included wins for Joyce Ardies over Kobuch and Allison Rainy over Bihag. Hawai'i is led by third-year head coach Jun Hernandez.

FALL SEASON A SUCCESS: The Huskies had their best fall season in several years, highlighted by the singles play of Venise Chan and the doubles play of Tara Simpson and Joyce Ardies. The fall began with ITA Regionals, where four Huskies picked up their first career singles wins. The women then competed at the SDSU Fall Classic #2, where Simpson and Ardies captured the main doubles title with a 9-7 win over a talented pair of Aztecs. The fall schedule finished up with the Husky Invitational, where UW dominated their northwest foes. Chan defeated Simpson for the Flight I singles title, and teamed with Aleksandra Malovic to surprise Ardies and Simpson, 8-3, in the doubles final. Malovic also won Flight 2 of singles and freshman Ashley Anderson won the third singles flight. Malovic's seven fall singles wins were the most on the squad, while the doubles teams of Simpson and Ardies, and Chan and Malovic both went 5-1.

THE SCHEDULE: Playing in the Pac-10 automatically ensures one of the nation's toughest schedules on a yearly basis, and this year is no exception for the Huskies. The Pac-10 was responsible for three of the final four teams in last year's NCAA Championships (Stanford, Cal, UCLA), and has four teams in the top-10 again this year. The Huskies will face No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 California, and No. 8 USC, plus 19th-ranked Arizona State and two matches apiece with Northwest rivals No. 45 Oregon and No. 50 Washington State. The home schedule begins on Jan. 26th when the Huskies welcome 28th-ranked BYU for what is becoming an annual early season showdown between the two schools. Washington will stay at home in the Nordstrom until March, with the exception of non-conference duals with Purdue and Illinois, which will be home matches but played at the Mercer Island Country Club due to scheduling conflicts with the ITA Men's National Indoor Championships.

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