UW Women's Tennis Back In Top-40

March 4, 2008

SEATTLE - The Washington women's tennis team has made a quick rise through the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Rankings this year, but earned its biggest payoff today when they broke into the Top-40 at No. 34. Freshman Venise Chan and senior Tara Simpson also earned the first singles rankings of their careers.

'We're really excited about being in the top-35 now in the country,' said third-year head coach Jill Hultquist. 'It gives me more confidence that we're making the right decisions. So we're just going to keep moving forward with the decisions we're making and keep going hard. The girls are thrilled, but they want to keep going higher.'

Chan, a native of Honk Kong, China, went from unranked to 41st in the latest poll, which ranks 125 singles players. She has been the unquestioned top player on the squad since arriving in the fall, and has played every match at No. 1 singles, racking up an 11-1 record in dual matches, and is 17-3 overall. Based on the current rankings, Chan has wins over 15th-ranked Susie Babos of California, No. 57 Katrina Zheltova of Sacramento State, No. 81 Sophie Kobuch of Hawaii. Her only dual match loss came in a third-set tiebreaker to 27th-ranked Hilary Barte of Stanford.

'I think Venise has got her own set of goals,' said Hultquist. 'She's happy she's in the rankings but she's a tough competitor and she wants more. She won't be satisfied unless she's No. 1.'

Simpson, hailing from Vancouver, B.C., is ranked 98th. The senior is having her best season yet, and has matched Chan win for win in dual match play, predominantly from the No. 3 singles position. Simpson is 17-4 overall, and 11-1 in dual play. Her biggest win came two weeks ago in a third-set tiebreak over Cal's Cristina Visico, now ranked 32nd.

'Tara's been here through the three years that I've been here and I think for her, seeing herself get ranked now as a senior, all the hard work she has put in represents the hard work they've all put in,' Hultquist says. 'Seeing the team continue upwards makes it all worth it.'

The Huskies were a Top-10 team as recently as 2005, but ended the year at No. 25, and following the departure of Patty McCain, injuries and a few premature departures left new head coach Jill Hultquist with a skeleton crew, and the team struggled to an 8-33 record over the past two seasons. But Washington has resurfaced this year with a full roster, including six freshmen, and is currently 9-3 after defeating a ranked Oregon squad, 6-1, this past Saturday.

No team has climbed higher in the rankings this season than the Huskies, who started the year at No. 70, and have climbed 36 spots to their current No. 34. They have improved their ranking in each of the six rankings periods this season. One state preseason goal was getting back into the Top-40, and with such quick success, Hultquist says they may need to revisit a few objectives.

'We're going to have to reevaluate. We're happy that we completed that goal, but now we have to raise our sights.'

There won't be much time for patting themselves on the back, however, as the Huskies make their most difficult road trip this weekend, visiting No. 7 USC on Friday at 1:30 p.m., then turning around to place No. 9 UCLA on Saturday at 11 a.m.

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