Huskies Shock Trojans, Bound For Sweet 16!

May 10, 2009

Interactive Bracket

LOS ANGELES - The Washington women's tennis team is on to the Sweet-16 with a monumental 4-3 upset win over the Pac-10 Champion USC Trojans in the NCAA Second Round today at the Trojans' Marks Stadium. 19th-ranked sophomore Venise Chan set off the Husky jubilation with a third-set tiebreak win at No. 1 singles.

With the match tied at 3-3, Chan had to battle back from 2-5 down in the final set against 23rd-ranked Maria Sanchez. The Hong Kong native won three straight games to level the deciding set at 5-5, then Sanchez held serve for a 6-5 lead. Chan fell behind 0-30 in the next game, but Sanchez never got to match point as Chan came back to hold and force the tiebreaker.

From there, Chan won five of the first six points and raced to her bench during the changeover. Serving at 2-6 down, Sanchez double-faulted and the Huskies rushed to embrace their teammate.

This was the biggest upset of the tournament through two rounds of play, as USC was the No. 7 seed in the tournament and had only lost twice all year. The loss snapped a 13-match win streak for the Trojans (21-3), who had won the Pac-10 with an 8-0 mark and were the first team other than Stanford to win the Pac-10 in 21 years.

The Huskies (18-7) pieced together the win thanks to a stellar showing in doubles play, and earlier wins from freshman Samantha Smith and junior Aleksandra Malovic. UW led 3-1 after Malovic's win, but USC came back to win at second and third singles to set the stage for the dramatic conclusion.

The win returns the Huskies to the NCAA final site for the first time since 2004, when UW reached the quarterfinals. One year after that run, head coach Patty McCain left to coach Texas, and Jill Hultquist took over a program suddenly in need of rebuilding. Washington won just three matches in 2006, and was 5-16 just two seasons ago. But with an influx of talent and character over the past two years, the Huskies are now back in the Round of 16.

'I had tears of joy afterwards,' said Hultquist. 'I'm so happy for the girls. They've worked so hard and worked together as a team this year. At the beginning of the weekend I reminded them my record the first two years. We didn't play together and didn't play for each other, and the result was we won three matches. I told them how working as a team had got us to 16-7 and that's what it was going to take this weekend.'

The team effort was evident from the start of doubles play today as the Huskies jumped on USC from the get go. Junior Joyce Ardies and freshman Denise Dy dominated Sarah Fansler and Lyndsay Kinstler, 8-1, at No. 1 doubles to put UW ahead. At second doubles, Chan and Malovic raced to a 7-0 lead over Sanchez and Alison Ramos, but the Trojans started making things interesting by winning the next four games to bring it to 7-4. Chan and Malovic had to save a couple more break points in the next game but finally stopped the run and clinched the doubles point, 8-4.

Washington got a major boost from Smith in her No. 4 singles match against 68th-ranked Alison Ramos. Yesterday in the first round against San Diego State, Smith did not lose a single game in her win, and was just as sharp today, as she beat Ramos, 6-1, 6-2 for her first win over a ranked opponent all year.

USC got its first point when Leyla Entekhabi overcame Ardies, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5 singles, but Malovic's 6-3, 6-4 win over Kinstler at the No. 6 spot put UW up 3-1.

'I've been having trouble closing things out in the second set, and getting annoyed at myself or the match,' said Malovic. 'But I was just thinking all those other times when I got mad, the stakes weren't as high. This is the NCAA tournament, I've just got do it! No complaints, just finish!'

Sophomore Lina Xu made a very strong showing against 42nd-ranked Sarah Fansler at third singles, but Fansler eventually won out, 6-4, 7-6. Then at second singles, Dy had the unenviable task of facing 22nd-ranked Amanda Fink, the Pac-10 Singles Champion who had won 22 matches in a row. Yet Dy won the first set, 6-2, and was even at 5-5 in the second set despite battling muscle cramps. Dy had break points on Fink's serve in the 11th game, but Fink saved them and then broke serve to force a third set, in which she took an early lead and won 6-3.

The top singles match was back and forth throughout. Chan won the first set, 6-4, but Sanchez came back with a 6-3 second set win, as Chan saw several break point chances go by the wayside. Twice she had Sanchez down 0-40 on her serve in the third set but Sanchez held. But despite falling behind 2-5 in the third set, Chan did not appear discouraged.

'We went into the match really fired up. In singles everyone was fighting and cheering each other on. (Malovic) got the win so I knew it was up to me or Denise, but Denise was having some injury problems so I felt it was my turn to come back. I just tried to hit the ball clean, and I tried to make her run because I knew she was tired.'

With the win, Chan improves to 28-5 on the season, and 21-3 at No. 1 singles. She now has wins over five different Top-25 players.

'I just want to say how amazing my doubles partner is,' exclaimed Malovic. 'If anyone had to be down 5-2, we would want it to be Venise.'

Washington will now head to College Station, Texas for the Round of 16 and all additional rounds. The Huskies will be facing South Carolina, which is the only other unseeded team remaining in the bracket. The Gamecocks upset 10th-seeded Tennessee, 4-3, today.

This will be UW's fourth trip to the Round of 16. They made the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2001 and 2004, and the Round of 16 in 2003. Washington and South Carolina will meet on Friday, May 15, at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Washington Women's Tennis
NCAA Championships - Second Round
5/10/09 - Los Angeles, Calif.
Marks Stadium (USC)

No. 32 Washington 4, No. 43 San Diego State 0

Doubles
1) (47) Ardies/Dy (UW) def. Fansler/Kinstler (USC), 8-1
2) Chan/Malovic (UW) def. Sanchez/Ramos (USC), 8-4
3) Smith/Xu (UW) vs. Andrews/Fink (USC), 7-6, susp.
Order of Finish: 1, 2

Singles
1) (19) Venise Chan (UW) def. (23) Maria Sanchez (USC), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2)
2) (22) Amanda Fink (USC) def. (78) Denise Dy (UW), 2-6, 7-5, 6-3
3) (42) Sarah Fansler (USC) def. Lina Xu (UW), 6-4, 7-6
4) Samantha Smith (UW) def. (68) Alison Ramos (USC), 6-1, 6-2
5) Leyla Entekhabi (USC) def. Joyce Ardies (UW), 6-4, 6-2
6) Aleksandra Malovic (UW) def. Lyndsay Kinstler (USC), 6-3, 6-4
Order of Finish: 4, 5, 6, 3, 2, 1

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