Chan Begins NCAA Tourney Run in Tulsa

May 20, 2008

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2008 NCAA Singles Championships
Tulsa, Okla. • Michael D. Case Tennis Center • University of Tulsa

Wednesday, May 21
Venise Chan (UW) vs. Reka Zsilinszka (Duke)
12 p.m. PT

THIS WEEK: Husky freshman Venise Chan begins play in the NCAA Women's Tennis Singles Championships this Wednesday, May 21. The University of Tulsa hosts the tournament at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center. The tourney runs through Monday, May 26 and features the top 64 singles players in the country. In her first round match, Chan will face Reka Zsilinszka of Duke at 12 p.m. PT. Zsilinszka, a freshman, is ranked 24th, and owns a 37-5 singles record this year playing mostly No. 3 singles for the Blue Devils. Chan, ranked 37th nationally, could earn All-America honors by reaching the Round of 16. Chan is the first Husky to compete in NCAA's since 2005.

HUSKIES IN THE NCAA SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP: For much of the 80's and 90's, Washington women's tennis did not make much of a mark in the national championships. That all changed in 1998 when Kristina Kraszewski made the first of her four NCAA Singles Championship appearances. The freshman advanced all the way to the NCAA Quarterfinals, still the best showing ever by a Husky. Kraszewski, the only Husky ever ranked No. 1, reached the Round of 16 again as a senior. Since Kraszewski, UW has had two more All-Americans in singles. Claire Carter reached the NCAA Round of 16 as a freshman in 2001, while Dea Sumantri was a three-time NCAA singles participant, two-time singles All-American, and reached the Round of 16 in 2003. From 1998 through 2005, the Huskies had at least one player in the NCAA singles tourney every year. In 2004, Washington had a program-best three participants (Carter, Sumantri, and Erin Hoe). Sumantri was UW's last participant in 2005.

CHAN EARNS NCAA BID: Freshman Venise Chan's sensational season will continue on to the NCAA Singles Championships, as she was chosen for the 64-player field. The tourney runs May 21-26 at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, following the conclusion of the team championship. Chan 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 a 15-6 record in dual matches, and is 21-9 overall. The diminutive but powerful native of Hong Kong earned her first career singles ranking in the March 4 poll, shooting all the way up to No. 41, then was ranked as high as No. 30 on two occasions before finishing the regular season at No. 37. The highlight of Chan's season, and the team as a whole, came in UW's match against 12th-ranked Arizona State, when Chan saved match point to prevail in a third-set tiebreak against 28th-ranked Nadia Abdala, clinching a 4-3 upset win. Chan has wins over nine ranked opponents, and has wins over four players in the NCAA field, including Nadia Abdala (Arizona State), Susie Babos (California), Ekaterina Burduli (Washington State), and Lindsey Nelson (USC). Nelson is a two-time NCAA Singles runner-up, and Babos was the 2005 NCAA Champion. Two of Chan's dual match losses came in a third-set tiebreaker to third-ranked Hilary Barte of Stanford, and 6-4 in the third set to No. 14 Riza Zalameda of UCLA after Chan led 3-0 in the deciding set. Also, three of her losses have come to players which she has also defeated once this season. Chan boasted a 12-match win streak from Nov. 9, 2007 through Feb. 17, 2008. She was also named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 11-17 during which she led UW to wins over Purdue and Illinois.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington ended the regular season ranked 38th in the ITA poll. After beginning the season ranked 70th, the Huskies re-entered the Top-40 on March 4, and remained there for eight of the final nine ranking periods. This season, freshman Venise Chan and senior Tara Simpson each earned the first singles rankings of their careers, and Chan has maintained a Top-40 ranking for the past two months. Chan remained at No. 37 in the most recent poll, down from her season-high of No. 30. Chan was the first Husky freshman to earn a Top-30 ranking since former Husky Claire Carter in 2001, and is the highest-ranked Husky since Dea Sumantri in 2005. Carter and Sumantri went on to earn seven All-American awards between them. Simpson is currently unranked but she reached a career-high of 98 on March 4.

Venise Chan in the ITA Rankings
March 4 - 41
March 18 - 30
April 1 - 40
April 13 - 30
April 22 - 37
April 28 - 37

REGULAR SEASON IN A NUTSHELL: The Husky women's tennis program experienced a rebirth this year, becoming a team to be reckoned with once again following two years where wins were few and far between. The Huskies posted a 12-10 record, easily surpassing the eight combined wins of the past two seasons. Washington returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005, losing to Texas A&M in the first round. For much of the season, UW started three freshmen, two sophomores, and just one senior in singles play. As can be the case with many such young teams, Washington thrived at home but struggled on the road. The Huskies were 11-2 in home matches, defeating the likes of Arizona State, Oregon, Washington State, BYU, Purdue, and San Diego State, but lost their final six road matches, including second encounters with the Ducks and WSU Cougars that left them at 2-6 in conference play. UW's 4-3 win over 12th-ranked Arizona State in their final home match was the first Top-25 win for the program since 2005. The Huskies also improved drastically in the rankings from their preseason No. 70 billing, cutting that number in half to finish the regular season 35th. Leading the team throughout the year were freshman Venise Chan at No. 1 singles, and senior Tara Simpson at the No. 3 spot. Chan defeated nine ranked players throughout the year, and climbed as high as 30th in her first season, while Simpson earned her first career singles ranking as well in her last year, peaking at No. 98. Chan led the team with a 15-6 dual record, followed by Simpson at 15-7, and sophomore Joyce Ardies also finished with double-digit wins, at 12-9.

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