Following The Court
Feb. 6, 2008
By Sheena Nguyen
Just two days before Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans region, sophomore tennis player Joyce Ardies had arrived at the Tulane University campus fresh from the cosmopolitan city of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
She was heavily recruited by many schools, but settled on Tulane and was eager to begin her collegiate tennis career.
Little did she know, the natural disaster that would soon hit would essentially wipe out the region and had it not been for her passion for tennis, would have ended her career as well.
After Hurricane Katrina struck, Ardies, along with her teammates, evacuated to Texas A&M for the semester since Tulane University had been closed.
'We carried a little bag for enough for a three-day evacuation, but we ended up having to spend a whole semester with that little bag,' Joyce said of the experience.
'We tried to practice as well as we could. We waited for donations and some people donated rackets and tennis shoes, [but] to practice like that wasn't the easiest of circumstances,' she added.
Still, Ardies' persistent nature kept her playing through the roughest of situations.
'We practiced like that and were able to play some tournaments, but at the end of the semester, they announced they cut the tennis program,' she said.
After the campus re-opened, Ardies went back to Tulane, but things didn't get any easier.
'There were no balls, no equipment and no coach, so we just practiced by ourselves,' she explained. At that point Joyce knew she couldn't stay put even though Tulane had offered her a four-year scholarship.
Coincidentally, Washington tennis coach Jill Hultquist was in search of a talented addition to the roster at the same time.
A friend of Ardies had told her of the opportunity and Ardies didn't hesitate to contact coach Hultquist and make the trip to Washington for potential recruitment.
Not long after, Joyce became the newest addition to the Washington women's tennis team.
'I love Seattle, love the team and here I am,' she said.
Hultquist had the same feelings for last year's recruit, who led the team in wins that same season. 'I was very fortunate to get her from Tulane,' she commented.
Her teammates couldn't agree more.
'She's a wonderful team captain,' freshman Ashley Anderson said. 'She's always the first one to say, `Go Huskies,' and she definitely motivates the rest of us.'
This season, it seems as though Ardies is making even more of an impact in both singles and doubles play.
Ardies has played in every match this season, contributing to the Huskies' impressive 6-1 start to the season.
'She's not only a fantastic doubles player, but also a partner,' her doubles partner, senior Tara Simpson, said. 'She really wants to win but she has a sense of humor, as well, that makes it a lot of fun.'
As much of a presence that Ardies has on the court, she's putting in just as much energy, if not more, into her goals outside of tennis.
She has been accepted into the Foster School of Business and is currently in the International Business program.
'I want to finish with good grades and do a master's here at UW,' Ardies said.
Because she plans on staying put at least for now, Ardies has created some close ties here at Washington, including a relationship with Washington men's tennis player, senior Andy Kuharszky.
'We have lots of fun and we rest a lot together. It's really good,' Ardies said. 'We support each other because we are in the same scenario, even the same business school.'
It's also apparent that Ardies is a woman of many passions, as she has a nearly endless list of activities she enjoys outside of tennis.
Ardies enjoys riding her motorcycle, going to the movies and spending time with her teammates off the court.
She's also shown a few qualities that are somewhat unrelated to tennis.
'She's a really good dancer and has a nice body,' sophomore teammate Lauren Summers remarked.
All this just comes to show how essential Ardies has become to the team, both on and off the court.
'What I love about Joyce is her fire in her eyes and her desire to win,' Hultquist added. 'I know when Joyce steps on the court she is just going to give it everything she has. She's very emotional, she's always pumping her fists and I know that when I send Joyce on the court, she's just going to give it everything she has.'
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