Washington Readies For NCAA Round of 16

May 12, 2009

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2009 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships
College Station, Texas • George P. Mitchell Tennis Center • Texas A&M

Friday, May 15 - Round of 16 - 10 a.m.
#32 Washington vs. #22 South Carolina

Sunday, May 17 - Quarterfinals - 11 a.m.
Washington /S. Carolina winner vs. Florida/Georgia winner

Monday, May 18 - Semifinals - 2 p.m.
Tuesday, May 19 - Championship - 4 p.m.

THIS WEEK: The Husky women's tennis team returns to the final site of the NCAA Championships for the first time in five years this week, gathering in College Station, Texas with the other 15 teams whose dreams of a national title are still alive. Coming off their thrilling 4-3 upset of 7th-ranked USC on Sunday, the 32nd-ranked Huskies (18-7) are the lowest-ranked team remaining in the draw, but certainly won't be lacking in confidence after knocking off the Pac-10 champs. Washington will face 22nd-ranked South Carolina, the only other unseeded team left in the draw, on Friday, May 15, at 10 a.m. Pacific time at Texas A&M's George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Should UW advance, they would face the winner of Georgia and Florida on Sunday, May 17. This is UW's fourth trip to the Round of 16 and the first under head coach Jill Hultquist. Texas A&M will provide live video and results of the NCAA Tennis Championships at www.aggieathletics.com.

WASHINGTON IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Another outstanding season has helped restore Washington's standing as an annual NCAA entrant. The Huskies are making their second-straight NCAA appearance and 11th all-time. From 1997-2005, the Huskies made nine consecutive tournament runs, going from one-and-done status early on to reaching the NCAA Quarterfinals in both 2001 and 2004, and the Round of 16 in 2003. This is UW's first trip to the Round of 16 since the 2004 team that reached the quarterfinals and ended the season ranked ninth. Washington's wins over San Diego State and USC in Regionals was its first NCAA wins since a first round victory in 2005. This year marks the first time that the Huskies won a Regional on the road, as their previous three Round of 16 appearances came with the benefit of hosting the first two rounds. Overall the Huskies are 12-10 in NCAA play, but are 12-6 ever since earning their first win in 2001. The UW is 1-1 against SEC teams in the tourney, both matches coming in 2001, when UW defeated Tennessee in the round of 16 and fell to Florida in the quarterfinals. A complete history of UW's NCAA matches is on page three of the release.

SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA: The South Carolina Gamecocks are the only other unseeded team to reach College Station aside from the Huskies, having taken out the 10-seed, Tennessee, on the Lady Vols home courts this past weekend. South Carolina's win ended in similar fashion to Washington's, as top Carolina player Gira Schofield outlasted Tennessee's Caitlin Whoriskey, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 at No. 1 singles to break a 3-3 tie. South Carolina also won at second and third singles, and took doubles with wins at the second and third spots. In the first round, USC advanced with a 4-0 win over 40th-ranked Wake Forest. Ranked 22nd nationally, the Gamecocks are now 16-10 for the year. This is USC's 15th straight NCAA tournament appearance, and 19th overall. This is their sixth trip to the Round of 16, but first since 1999. South Carolina's only trip to the quarterfinals came in the first NCAA tourney in 1982. Schofield and junior Ana Marija Zubori give SC a potent combo at the top of their lineup, as Schofield is ranked 43rd with a 22-13 record and Zubori is 48th with a stellar 21-4 record at second singles. Both will be playing in the NCAA Singles tourney, Schofield for the fourth time. Zubori and Natasa Vuckovic are ranked 27th in doubles and were chosen for the NCAA Doubles tourney. Arlo Elkins has been a fixture at SC since 1984, coaching the Gamecocks to 15 straight tourneys. Washington and South Carolina have never faced each other.

HUSKIES TAKE DOWN TROJANS: Washington earned its biggest win in years on Sunday, upsetting the seventh-seeded Trojans, 4-3, on USC's home courts, to advance to its first Round of 16 in five years. It was just the second win ever for UW over USC, and the first ever for the Huskies in Los Angeles. The match came down to Venise Chan against 23rd-ranked Maria Sanchez at No. 1 singles with the scored tied at 3-3. Chan had won the first set, 6-4, but Sanchez fought back with a 6-3 second set win. Sanchez opened up a 5-2 lead in the third set, but Chan worked her way back with two service holds around a break to level it at 5-5. The two held serve to force a tiebreak with a Sweet 16 trip on the line, and Chan pulled away for a 7-2 win, as her teammates rushed to embrace her. Washington reached that point thanks to stellar doubles play, and wins from Samantha Smith and Aleksandra Malovic. In doubles, Joyce Ardies and Denise Dy rolled to an 8-1 win over the 62nd-ranked team of Sarah Fansler and Lyndsay Kinstler. Chan and Malovic then clinched the point with an 8-4 win over Sanchez and Alison Ramos at No. 2. UW took a 2-0 lead after Smith routed the 68th-ranked Ramos, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 4 singles for her first win over a ranked opponent this year. Malovic then held off Kinstler at sixth singles, 6-3, 6-4. USC came back with wins at third and fifth singles, and tied things up when Pac-10 Champ and 22nd-ranked Amanda Fink rallied from a set down to beat Dy at second singles, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3. That set the stage for Chan's dramatic clincher.

UW OUSTS AZTECS IN FIRST ROUND: Washington got back into the NCAA win column for the first time in four years with an opening round win over 43rd-ranked San Diego State on May 9th. The Huskies had swept the Aztecs just a few weeks earlier in San Diego, but SDSU shuffled its lineup around a bit to give the Huskies a different look. Washington still came out firing in doubles, as the 47th-ranked team of Denise Dy and Joyce Ardies rolled to an 8-1 win in the top spot and Venise Chan and Aleksandra Malovic followed that with an 8-5 win at No. 2. Samantha Smith then quickly put the Aztecs in a bigger hole as she crushed Milana Yusupov, 6-0, 6-0 at fourth singles. Malovic then held off Sierra Ellison at sixth singles, 6-3, 7-5, and after a close first set, Ardies ran away from Olivia Colman, 7-5, 6-0, to clinch the match at fifth singles. Venise Chan was one game away from victory in the No. 1 singles match, leading Julia Trunk 6-0, 6-5 when play was suspended. Lina Xu also led 6-1, 4-3 in her No. 3 singles match.

COACHING STAFF WINS REGIONAL HONORS: Head coach Jill Hultquist and assistant coach Damon Coupe were both honored this week by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as the Northwest Regional Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively. The two will now be candidates for national coaching honors. Hultquist twice was named Northwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year (2000, 2001) during her first stint at Washington from 1997-2002. She also won the ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2001, when she guided the Huskies to the NCAA Quarterfinals while head coach Patty McCain was home due to the impending birth of her child. McCain in 2001 was UW's only other Regional Head Coach of the Year winner. Now in her fourth season as head coach, Hultquist coached the Huskies to 18 wins and the round of 16, despite having no seniors and being just two years removed from a five-win campaign. Coupe is in his second season at Washington, both of which have resulted in NCAA Championship appearances. He works closely with sophomore Venise Chan, a First Team All-Pac-10 selection currently ranked 19th.

CHAN BECOMES THIRD FIRST TEAMER: Husky sophomore Venise Chan was selected to the All-Pac-10 Women's Tennis First Team this season, based on a vote of the Pac-10 coaches. Freshman Denise Dy also earned honorable mention. Chan, a native of Hong Kong, China, has been outstanding during her sophomore season, compiling a 28-5 singles record that includes a 21-3 mark at No. 1 singles. In women's tennis, the Pac-10 Conference is the most dominant conference year-in, year-out, and Chan's inclusion on the six-member first team speaks volumes about her season. Chan has defeated three of the other First Team members, including Pac-10 Player of the Year Hilary Barte of Stanford, and Freshman of the Year Jana Juricova of California. Chan is the first Husky named to the First Team since Dea Sumantri in 2004. The only other Husky to earn First Team acclaim since the awards began in 1998 was Kristina Kraszewski, who was a three-time first teamer (1999-2001). Last year as a freshman Chan was voted to the Second Team. Dy, hailing from San Jose, Calif., has been UW's No. 2 player all season and their top doubles player. The freshman has gone 24-11 in singles and earned national rankings in both singles and doubles. Five of the six honorable mentions are ranked in the Top-100 by the ITA, a testament to the depth of skill level in the conference.

REGULAR SEASON RECAP: The 2009 Huskies won the most matches of any UW team since the 2004 squad which made the NCAA Quarterfinals, going 16-7, and earning three Pac-10 victories for the first time since 2005. Washington only played seven of their 23 matches at home, going 7-4 in away matches and 4-0 in neutral site matches, which was a drastic improvement over 2008 when UW won only once away from Seattle. On March 3, the Dawgs were ranked a season-high 23rd. Six of UW's losses were to Pac-10 schools ranked in the Top-20 at match time; outside of conference play the team went 13-1. All this came without a single senior on the roster. All season, UW's top four singles players were comprised of two sophomores and two freshmen. Sophomore Venise Chan was dominant at the top spot, going 20-3 at No. 1 singles and 27-5 overall heading into postseason play. She reached a new career-high No. 18 ranking prior to the Pac-10 Championships. Freshman Denise Dy also made a dazzling debut in purple this season, going 17-6 at No. 2 singles and spending most of the season ranked in the Top-80. She also played every match at No. 1 doubles, lately teaming up with junior Joyce Ardies to go 9-1 down the stretch. The Huskies earned Pac-10 wins over Arizona, Washington State, and Oregon, winding up alone in sixth-place with a 3-5 conference record. Washington scored at least two points in all but one match this year, the exception being a 6-1 loss at Stanford.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Enjoying one of the best seasons by any Husky in history, Venise Chan heads into NCAA's ranked No. 19 in the most recent ITA individual rankings, released April 27. Chan is the first Top-20 player for Washington since three-time All-American Dea Sumantri peaked at No. 5 during the 2005 spring season. Chan began the dual season ranked 81st, jumped up to No. 53 in the next set of rankings, and entered the Top-25 for the first time on March 3 when she was ranked 21st. Elsewhere in the rankings, UW's No. 1 doubles tandem of freshman Denise Dy and junior Joyce Ardies comes in at No. 47, down from their season-high No. 36 ranking back on April 14. The two played just 11 matches together to earn that ranking, teaming up for the first time on March 13 vs. Michigan State. But Ardies and Dy have showed instant chemistry, going 9-1 at No. 1 doubles during the regular season, including an 8-6 win over UCLA's Remynse and Schnack, who are currently ranked third. Chan and Dy also remain at No. 83 despite not having teamed together since March 7. Dy also owns a No. 78 singles ranking, and has been ranked in the Top-80 since February. Dy started the dual season ranked 112th before climbing to a season-high No. 59 ranking back on March 3. Dy has seven wins over ranked players. As a team, the Dawgs are ranked 32nd entering tournament play. The team has been ranked as high as 23rd. UW's No. 23 ranking on March 3rd was its first time back in the Top-25 since the first poll of the 2006 season.

CHAN READIES FOR NCAA RUN: For the second straight season, Venise Chan has sewn up a berth in the NCAA Singles Championships. This year, Chan has broken into the Top-20 and is eyeing her first All-America honor. With 28 singles wins and NCAA's ahead of her, Chan has a shot at becoming the fifth Husky ever to win 30 matches in a season, and could threaten the single season record of 32 wins set in 2000-01 by Claire Carter if she makes a good run at NCAA's. Her 28 wins currently is tied for sixth on UW's single season list. That total could have climbed even higher, however a slight muscle strain kept Chan out of the Pac-10 Championships at the end of April. Chan is currently riding an 11-match win streak, despite having a few weeks pass between the 10th win and the 11th which was her come-from-behind clincher against USC in the second round of NCAA's. Chan enjoyed perhaps her best week of the year when she went 4-0 in singles and doubles play against UCLA and USC, with every win coming against a ranked singles player or doubles team. Chan swept UCLA's 16th-ranked Yasmin Schnack and USC's 33rd-ranked Sarah Fansler at No. 1 singles, marking her second Pac-10 weekend sweep this season. Earlier in the year, Chan beat Jana Juricova of Cal and Hilary Barte of Stanford on back-to-back days. It is still the only dual match loss for Barte, who went 19-1 at No. 1 and was named Pac-10 Player of the Year, while Juricova was named Freshman of the Year. From November 7 to February 28, Chan won 14 out of 15 matches. Four of the players were ranked at the time, and two more have since entered the rankings. Based on the current singles rankings, Chan has defeated the No. 7, No. 11, No. 15, No. 16, and No. 23 singles players. With a 21-3 record at No. 1 singles, Chan was voted to the All-Pac-10 First Team, just the third Husky ever to earn the honor. Nearing the end of her sophomore season, Chan has the best career winning percentage of any Husky in history at .848 (49-15).

ARDIES, MALOVIC COME FULL CIRCLE: Washington's two most experienced players on its young roster are juniors Joyce Ardies and Aleksandra Malovic. The pair joined the team in trying times, when the Huskies were coming off a three win rebuilding season, but now are enjoying their second straight winning season and experiencing their greatest level of individual success as well. Both players have been invaluable at anchoring the bottom part of the singles lineup. Ardies currently boasts a 27-8 singles record and is 19-5 in dual matches, mostly at the No. 5 spot. She has blown past her previous season-bests of 16 wins as a sophomore and 14 as a freshman. Malovic has also posted double digit dual match wins for the first time, with a 18-7 record so far mostly at sixth singles. With 25 total wins, Malovic has also easily surpassed her previous best wins total and has pushed her career record over .500 for the first time. Malovic had the best showing of any Husky at the Pac-10 Championships, winning her first three matches to make the semifinals of the Invitational draw. She built on that performance with wins in UW's two NCAA Regional matches, going a combined 4-0 in singles and doubles. Ardies has quickly formed a dynamic doubles partnership with freshman Denise Dy. The two are 11-1 so far at No. 1 doubles and upset 2nd-ranked Schnack and Remynse of UCLA on April 3rd. They debuted at No. 36 in the ITA doubles rankings on April 14 and look to be a potentially great team down the road.

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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