Huskies Look To Bring The Heat In Minnesota

Feb. 10, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The Husky women's tennis team heads back out on the road this weekend after spending a week off at home. The 36th-ranked Huskies won't be leaving the cold behind them, however, as they head to Minneapolis for matches against 44th-ranked Marshall and 66th-ranked Minnesota. Washington (4-1) will look to build on its strong showing against second-ranked Cal in its last match, where Venise Chan and Denise Dy won the top two singles matches. The Huskies will play the Thundering Herd at Minnesota's Baseline Tennis Center on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. Pacific time, then take on the Golden Gophers on Sunday, Feb. 15, with first serve scheduled for 9 a.m. Pacific.

SCOUTING MARSHALL: The Thundering Herd are 5-2 and ranked 44th heading to Minnesota where they will play the Golden Gophers on Friday before facing the Huskies on Saturday. Marshall defeated No. 56 South Alabama in its most recent match against a ranked opponent. In the National Team Indoor qualifying, Marshall beat Florida International before losing, 5-0, to 6th-ranked Georgia. They also suffered a close 4-3 loss to 23rd-ranked Kentucky in their season opener. Senior Kellie Schmitt is a two-time Conference USA Player of the Year and is ranked 33rd in singles. Schmitt and fellow senior Karolina Soor are ranked 44th in doubles. Schmitt is the career Marshall wins leader. Last season Marshall finished 17-9 and reached the Conference USA championship match, losing to Tulsa. Kellie Schmitt made the second round of the NCAA Singles Championships and played in the first round of the NCAA Doubles tourney with Karolina Soor.

SCOUTING MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers rank 66th heading into the weekend and are coming off a 3-0 homestand last weekend where they beat Iowa State, Miami (Ohio), and Carleton. Minnesota is 4-2, with its two losses coming in Los Angeles in the National Team Indoor qualifying matches. The Gophers fell to 3rd-ranked UCLA in the opener and then lost, 4-0, to DePaul in the consolation match. Minnesota went 15-11 last season, reaching the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament before falling to No. 1 ranked Northwestern. Senior Karina Chiarelli plays No. 1 singles for UM and is from the same home town as UW junior Joyce Ardies (Sao Paulo, Brazil). Tyler Thomson is in his eighth season at the helm for Minnesota.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington reached the final qualifying match for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in its most recent outings, defeating 49th-ranked North Carolina State before falling in a competitive 5-2 match against No. 2 California on Feb. 1 in Berkeley. The Huskies made quick work of the Wolfpack in the first match of the weekend, sweeping NC State, 7-0. Washington won every singles match in straight sets, highlighted by Venise Chan's 6-3, 6-4 win over 87th-ranked Lenka Hojckova at No. 1 singles. Denise Dy, Joyce Ardies, and Aleksandra Malovic all posted one-sided wins, losing only two games between the three of them, with Dy winning 6-0, 6-0. The next day against the 2008 NCAA Runners-Up, the Huskies hung with the veteran Bears on every court, but eventually suffered their first loss of the year. Chan and Dy were once again outstanding at the top of the lineup, as Chan defeated Cal newcomer Mari Andersson in straight sets, and Dy fought through three sets to upset 13th-ranked Marina Cossou 6-1, 6-7, 6-3. Cossou was a 2008 All-American and First Team All-Pac-10 member.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington women's tennis team inched up one more spot in the latest ITA Rankings, released Tuesday afternoon, checking in at a season-high No. 36. The women began the year at No. 38 after finishing 2008 at No. 40. Sophomore Venise Chan and freshman Denise Dy maintain their spots in the individual singles and doubles rankings, which will update next week for the first time since the preseason. Chan, who was ranked 28th in the fall and finished last season at No. 37, saw her ranking drop to 81st overall heading into dual match play, but a 5-0 record thus far should have her back on the upswing. Dy, a San Jose, Calif. native, is ranked 112th (out of 125), but will surely jump much higher following her recent success including a win over Cal's 13th-ranked Marina Cossou. Chan and Dy also remain at No. 47 as a doubles duo. Regional rankings also peg Chan 11th, Dy at No. 17, and freshman Samantha Smith at No. 25. Chan and Dy are 6th in the region in doubles.

FRESHMEN FIREPOWER: With no seniors on the UW roster this year, it would be tempting to already think ahead at the possibilities of the 2010 season, but Washington's impressive start this year has kept the focus strictly on the here and now, and the two freshmen on the Huskies' roster have shown they are ready to win, and win now. Denise Dy of San Jose, Calif. and Samantha Smith of Los Angeles are a combined 24-5 in singles matches thus far, and 9-1 in dual play. Dy has had an impact similar to last year's freshman sensation Venise Chan, who won her first nine dual matches and went on to make the Pac-10 Second Team and earn a spot in the NCAA Championships. Playing No. 2 singles, Dy has already defeated four ranked singles players, higlighted by a three-set win over 13th-ranked Marina Cossou of Cal on the Bears' home courts. She has already earned her first singles ranking of 112, which only seems destined to rise higher throughout the season. Smith meanwhile has thrived at the No. 4 singles spot, going 4-1 with her only loss coming to the nation's 15th-ranked player. Smith also posted the best record in the fall of any team member, going 9-1 and winning the secondary singles flights at both the St. Mary's Invite and the SDSU Fall Classic. Though their careers are only just beginning, Husky fans will want to get to know Dy and Smith as quickly as possible.

CHAN NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Husky sophomore Venise Chan was named the Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 19-25. Chan led Washington (3-0) to a pair of road victories against BYU and Utah over the weekend. Chan, a native of Hong Kong, China, went a combined 4-0 in singles and doubles for the 38th-ranked Huskies, who defeated No. 47 BYU, 6-1 on Jan. 24 and then swept No. 50 Utah on Jan. 25. Ranked 81st in singles, Chan defeated BYU's McCall Jones and Utah's Anastasia Putilina at the No. 1 singles spot, and her win at Utah was the clinching point. She also teamed with freshman Denise Dy to pull out a pair of 9-7 victories at No. 1 doubles. The Pac-10 weekly honor was the second of Chan's career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor, and the third all-time for Washington.

UP NEXT: Husky fans will finally get another chance to watch the women in action next week, as Washington plays its first home dual meets in more than a month. The Huskies will host 43rd-ranked Sacramento State on Friday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m., then entertain 69th-ranked Rice on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. Four more road matches will follow.

FALL RECAP: The Huskies enjoyed a busy fall season, making three trips down to California for tournaments. The 2008-09 season began at the St. Mary's Invitational. Freshman Samantha Smith went 5-0 in her first weekend of college tennis to win the B-fligth singles draw, and junior Joyce Ardies outlasted sophomore teammate Lina Xu to win the main draw consolation bracket. Smith had two 6-0, 6-0 wins, including in the final against Ashley Pane of Santa Clara. Meanwhile, Venise Chan was in Los Angeles competing in the qualifying draw of the Riviera ITA All-American Championships. Chan went 1-1, defeating TCU's 47th-ranked Nina Much-Soeggard but falling against 109th-ranked Bianca Eichkorn of Miami in three sets. Next up was ITA Regionals hosted by Cal. Chan and freshman Denise Dy had the best showing, making the doubles quarterfinals and giving the 24th-ranked duo of Cossou and Ilcinkas of Cal a major battle before losing, 8-6. Chan also made the round of 16 in singles. Finally, the Huskies traveled to San Diego for the SDSU Fall Classic, and dominated the competition. Chan won the singles flight over Dy, and Smith once again captured the B-flight. Dy picked up back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, upsetting 93rd-ranked Ana Maria Constantinescu of Oklahoma and 117th-ranked Holly Bagshaw of SDSU, and Chan and Dy captured the doubles title.

HUSKIES RETURN TO PROMINENCE IN 2008: The Huskies experienced a resurgence in 2008, returning to the Top-40 and the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2005 after a two-year rebuilding process. The program got a major boost from freshman Venise Chan, who took the No. 1 singles spot from day one and helped give the team a more balanced lineup. Washington rolled to an 8-1 start, equaling its win total from the previous two years combined. After beginning the year ranked just 70th, the Huskies earned upsets over 28th-ranked BYU and 46th-ranked San Diego State to move up the rankings. They followed that with a key sweep of ranked Purdue and Illinois teams. The Pac-10 portion of the schedule continued to be as tough as ever, but Chan remained a bright spot with wins over All-American Susie Babos of Cal and Lindsey Nelson of USC. Sitting on the NCAA tournament bubble, the Huskies picked up their biggest win in three years with an upset of 12th-ranked Arizona State in their final home match. Trailing 3-2, Joyce Ardies got a three-set win at fourth singles, and Venise Chan staved off a match point and defeated 31st-ranked Nadia Abdala in a third set tiebreak to give the UW a signature win they needed to make NCAA's. Washington fell to Texas A&M, 4-1, in the NCAA First Round to finish with a 12-10 record and a No. 40 ITA ranking. Chan went on to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships, ending her year with a 21-10 record and a No. 37 singles rank. The Huskies bid farewell to seniors Tara Simpson and Allison Rainey. Simpson was a big reason for UW's success, as she had her best season with a 21-11 singles mark and 15-7 in dual play. She finished with 73 career singles wins, tied for eighth all-time at Washington.

HEAD COACH Jill Hultquist: Entering year four of her tenure, head coach Jill Hultquist has ushered in a rebirth of the women's tennis program. In just three years, Hultquist took a 3-17 team and restored stability, added depth and an influx of talent, and brought the Huskies back to national prominence and back to the NCAA Championships. Last season Hultquist guided the Huskies back to NCAA's for the first time since 2005, and the Huskies climbed back into the ITA Top-40 after nearly a two-year absence. Hultquist brought in freshman Venise Chan, who went straight to the top of the singles lineup and reached the NCAA Singles Championship, helping to change the tenor of the program. Hultquist is the fourth head coach in program history, and succeeded Patty McCain, whom Hultquist worked with as an assistant for five seasons from 1997-2002. During her first tour of duty at UW, Hultquist helped lead the Huskies to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances including a school record trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2001. In fact, it was Hultquist who served as the acting head coach for the team during its Elite Eight run, as McCain was unable to travel to Stone Mountain, Ga., due to the impending birth of her first child. That run included a Sweet-16 victory over fifth-ranked Tennessee. Hultquist was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in 2001. She was also selected as the ITA Northwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year in both 2000 and 2001. Before joining the coaching ranks at Washington, Hultquist played professionally on the WTA Tour from 1987-1997, winning more than 20 doubles titles. She ranked as high as sixth in the world in doubles and 64th in the world in singles. Hultquist teamed with McCain on the doubles circuit, and among their victories was a win over Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini in the semifinals of the 1988 U.S. Open. They also advanced to the finals of the 1989 Australian Open. Hultquist reached the mixed doubles finals of the French Open in 1995 and competed in the Olympic Games for Canada in 1984, 1988 and 1996. A native of Toronto, Canada, Hultquist and her husband Rich have two children, Jack (7) and Maggie (5).

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