No. 23 Huskies Look For First Pac-10 Wins At No. 16 ASU And Arizona

March 4, 2009

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THIS WEEK: Conference play continues for the Washington women's tennis team, as the Huskies visit 16th-ranked Arizona State and Arizona. The 23rd-ranked Huskies (7-4, 0-2 Pac-10) are back in the Top-25 of the ITA Rankings this week for the first time in three years, and road wins this weekend would go a long way in helping them stay. The UW plays ASU on Friday, March 6 in Tempe at 1:30 p.m., then battles Arizona on Saturday, March 7, at 12 noon.

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils moved up in the rankings to 16th this week and are currently 6-1 and 1-0 in Pac-10 play after they earned a 5-2 road win over Oregon last weekend. ASU's only loss came to then-No. 8 Georgia Tech, 4-2, in the National Team Indoor Qualifying draw. ASU is led by sophomore Kelcy McKenna, currently ranked 3rd in the nation. McKenna has had a breakout season, winning the ITA All-American Championships back in the fall. Her fall success has helped her already amass 26 wins against only five losses. Sisters Nadia and Laila Abdala play second and third singles, respectively, for ASU. Nadia, the younger of the two by one year, is currently unranked but has been in the Top-30. Sophomore Micaela Hein is ranked 79th. Last year the Huskies got the biggest win of their season with a 4-3 upset of then-No. 12 Arizona State in Seattle. Venise Chan broke a 3-3 tie with a win over Nadia Abdala in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 1 singles. Washington is 6-18-1 all-time vs. Arizona State

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 5-3 but looking to snap a three-match losing streak after they won their first five matches. Arizona lost, 4-3, at Oregon last week to slip to 0-1 in Pac-10 play. Danielle Steinberg is Arizona's top singles player once again this year, and is the only senior on the roster. She was an All-Pac-10 Second Team member last season. U of A has a talented freshman class with Natasha Marks ranked 125th in singles. Steinberg and freshman Sarah Landsman are ranked 66th in doubles. Washington and Arizona have one common opponent thus far in Rice, which Arizona beat 4-3 and the UW swept, 7-0. Last season the Huskies downed the Cats, 4-0, in Seattle, however both teams have ran out vastly different lineups this year. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 20-5.

LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies traveled to the Bay Area to face perennial powerhouses California and Stanford. It was the second meeting between UW and Cal in Berkeley this season, following the National Team Indoor Qualifying match. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the match followed almost the exact formula. Cal took doubles and the third through sixth singles matches, while Venise Chan and Denise Dy scored impressive wins at first and second singles, with the final result again being a 5-2 Cal victory. Chan defeated 16th-ranked Jana Juricova, 6-4, 6-3 while Dy upset 32nd-ranked Claire Ilcinkas, 6-3, 6-2. Joyce Ardies and Aleksandra Malovic both went three sets at fifth and sixth singles, giving UW a sniff at the upset, but the Bears escaped in both third sets. The next day against 11th-ranked Stanford, Washington was able to net just one point, once again coming from Chan at No. 1 singles. Chan beat her second Top-20 player in as many days, defeating 14th-ranked Hilary Barte, 6-3, 4-6, (10-7). It was the first time a Husky swept the No. 1 singles matches against the Bay Area schools since Claire Carter in 2004, but that came at home. Dy and Samantha Smith both took their matches to third-set super-tiebreakers but each came up just a few points short.

CHAN LEADS TEAM INTO TOP-25: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association made the switch over from a standard poll to a point-per-match computer formula for this week's rankings, and the Huskies benefited by jumping 15 spots despite losing twice last week. The UW went from 38th to 23rd in the new computer rankings, which will be used the rest of the season. This is the first time that Washington has been back in the Top-25 since the very first poll of the 2006 season. New individual rankings were also released and sophomore Venise Chan hit a new personal milestone, entering the individual Top-25 for the first time in her stellar career at No. 21. Chan, who is 17-3 overall on the year and 10-1 at No. 1 singles in dual play, becomes UW's first Top-25 player since three-time All-American Dea Sumantri, who peaked at No. 5 in 2005. Chan began the dual season ranked 81st, jumped up to No. 53 two weeks ago, and now has surpassed her career-high No. 30 ranking set last season. Freshman Denise Dy also ticked upwards two spots in the new rankings to No. 59, after starting the season ranked 112th. Dy, a native of San Jose, Calif., is 15-5 in singles play, and 9-2 in dual matches. Six of her wins came against ranked players, including a major upset over Cal's Marina Cossou, ranked 13th at the time and now coming in at No. 20. Chan and Dy have had equal success thus far as a doubles team, going 14-4 on the year thus far. They are currently ranked 36th 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 30-11 in singles matches thus far. 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 SIX ranked singles players, higlighted by a three-set win over 13th-ranked Marina Cossou of Cal on the Bears' home courts. In the most recent singles rankings, Dy moved up to a new season-high No. 59, and has teamed with Chan in doubles to go 14-4 and earn a No. 36 doubles ranking. Smith meanwhile got off to a 5-1 start at the No. 4 singles spot, before suffering a few losses of late. Smith was just two points away from a win against veteran Stanford player Carolyn McVeigh this past Saturday, falling 10-8 in the super-tiebreak. 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: Washington gets a reprieve from conference play and will play just once next week, hosting Michigan State on Friday, March 13. The Spartans upset the Dawgs last season in Michigan so UW will look to return the favor this year. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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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