Washington's NCAA Run Ends In Round of 16

May 15, 2009

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Husky women's tennis team's surprise run to the NCAA Round of 16 ended today in a loss to 22nd-ranked South Carolina at Texas A&M's Mitchell Tennis Center. The Huskies, who will return their entire roster next year, finish the season at 18-8 overall. This was UW's first Round of 16 appearance since 2004.

Conditions were very hot and very windy, and the Huskies fell into a deep hole early, losing doubles and all six first sets in singles. Yet the Huskies came fighting back with second set wins in four matches to give themselves a chance at a remarkable comeback. However, South Carolina clinched the match at No. 2 singles, as 48th-ranked Ana Marija Zubori outlasted freshman Denise Dy, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, and the final three matches were suspended early in their third sets.

'It was hot, but it was hot for both teams. I think all year long a lot of teams looked at the University of Washington from the Pacific Northwest and they think we are an indoor team, but I've always believed and maintained that we have one of the fittest teams in the nation,' said head coach Jill Hultquist. 'South Carolina came out a little faster than we did. In the singles our girls were fighting back hard. I felt that if we had won No. 2 that we could have come back.'

Washington found itself trailing after doubles for the first time in the tournament. The Huskies earned an upset win in the No. 1 match, as 47th-ranked Joyce Ardies and Denise Dy took down the No. 27 team of Zubori and Vuckovic, 8-5. The two end the season at 12-1 at No. 1 doubles after teaming up midway through the year.

Despite the win, the Huskies trailed throughout at second and third doubles, and despite making late runs, could not come all the way back. At second doubles, Jocic and Schofield took a 7-2 lead over Venise Chan and Aleksandra Malovic, and held on to win, 8-4. South Carolina clinched the point with an 8-5 win at No. 3 doubles.

19th-ranked Chan suffered just her fourth loss all year at No. 1 singles, as 43rd-ranked Gira Schofield made few mistakes in a 6-4, 6-2 win. The setback ended an 11-match win streak for Chan and was her first defeat since March 7. The Gamecocks continued applying the pressure with a win at No. 3 singles. Sophomoe Lina Xu was up 4-1 in the first set, but USC's Dijana Stojic came back to take the set, 7-5, and went on to win the second set, 6-2.

The lower half of UW's singles lineup all dropped the first set, but each one rallied to win the second and keep their hopes alive. Samantha Smith lost the first set, 4-6, to Natasa Vuckovic, but came back to take the second, 6-3. Vuckovic was ahead 3-2 in the third set. Ardies had lost her first set, 3-6, to Miljana Jocic, but then rolled 6-1 in the second set and was early in the third. Malovic at sixth singles also came back with a 6-3 second set win after losing the first to Suzanna Mansour and they were in the first game of the third set.

South Carolina's head coach Arlo Elkins was also growing concerned about the direction things were heading.

'It was 4-0 but it was really closer than that,' said Elkins. 'I mean, we won six of the first sets, and they were coming back. If we hadn't won (No. 2 singles), I'm not sure that we would have won the match. We were pretty tired and were struggling a little bit, as were they.'

The Huskies have a lot to celebrate in spite of the loss today, as they can clearly pride themselves on rebuilding a program that won a combined eight matches in 2006-07. Washington will lose no seniors, and with an added year of experience can look to make another run in 2010.

'Being in the Sweet-16 of course was a new adventure for all of them and was something we were looking forward to. Our goal was to be top 25 this year, and I think we're going to achieve that. But once you get into the Sweet 16, I think we all wanted more,' Hultquist said. 'We are going to be the same team next year, and I think we learned a lot. It was their first experience in the Sweet 16, and I don't think we're going to be wondering what it is going to be like next season.'

Chan will be sticking around in College Station to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships for the second straight year. A trip to the Round of 16 with two victories would guarantee All-American status for the sophomore. The singles tourney begins May 20.

Washington Women's Tennis
NCAA Championships Round of 16
May 15, 2009 - College Station, Texas
Mitchell Tennis Center

No. 22 South Carolina 4, No. 32 Washington 0

Doubles
1) (47) Ardies/Dy (UW) def. (27) Zubori/Vuckovic (SC), 8-5
2) Jocic/Schofield (SC) def. Chan/Malovic (UW), 8-4
3) Mansour/Stojic (SC) def. Smith/Xu (UW), 8-5
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3

Singles
1) (43) Gira Schofield (SC) def. (19) Venise Chan (UW), 6-4, 6-2
2) (48) Ana Marija Zubori (SC) def. (78) Denise Dy (UW), 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
3) Dijana Stojic (SC) def. Lina Xu (UW), 7-5, 6-2
4) Samantha Smith (UW) vs. Natasa Vuckovic (SC), 4-6, 6-3, 2-3 susp.
5) Joyce Ardies (UW) vs. Miljana Jocic (SC), 3-6, 6-1, 0-2 susp.
6) Aleksandra Malovic (UW) vs. Suzanna Mansour (SC), 2-6, 6-3, susp.
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2

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