Huskies Get Reacquainted At First Practice

Sept. 30, 2009

Just a few months removed from one of the most exciting seasons in program history, the Husky women's tennis team went back to work Wednesday afternoon on the Bill Quillian Courts on a crisp fall day. The first day of practice coincided with the first day of class, but the Huskies were eager to pick up where they left off in May.

Washington, which last year had its first NCAA Round of 16 appearance since 2004, is in the rare position of heading into the 2009-10 season with the exact same roster as last year's group. Head coach Jill Hultquist, now entering her fifth season, liked the familiar vibe that experience and success has brought.

'It was awesome for a first day. We were just discussing at the end how it didn't feel like a first practice because the girls worked really hard this summer, so there was a little rust but not as much as in the past,' said Hultquist. 'I think I remember saying to the girls last year that it was a great first day, but this year was even better.'

First Team All-Pac-10 returner Venise Chan enjoyed her first day as a junior. Chan has high expectations that go along with a preseason No. 16 singles ranking, and trained hard and competed regularly around Asia over the summer.

'I've been practicing all summer so it didn't seem like the first day for me. I'm not too rusty and it was a good day to start off with some drills and get in some point play,' said Chan.

While returning a full roster has its obvious advantages, Chan knows that doesn't mean the Huskies can relax.

'We definitely have to prepare ourselves because other teams have new recruits and I'm sure their level will be higher,' she said. 'They'll know how we play so we definitely need to work harder than last year to (keep up).'

Late in the practice, UW's top two doubles teams from the end of last season squared off. Joyce Ardies and Denise Dy, ranked 17th in the preseason polls, stared across at Chan and Aleksandra Malovic. Ardies and Dy had tremendous success at the end of the spring and Hultquist is excited for what full seasons together will do for the doubles play.

'They know each other, so you're not starting a team from scratch, so that saves us time where we can work on more skills,' Hultquist said.

Despite having just one practice in the books, the first tournament of the year is just a few days away, as Chan, Dy, and Ardies will head to Pacific Palisades, Calif. to compete in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships next week. The first of three major individual tournaments on the college tennis calendar, the All-American Championships sport the biggest field of the three with two qualifying brackets feeding into a main draw. Chan has an automatic bid into the main singles draw, while Ardies and Dy will try to qualify in doubles and Dy will look to qualify in singles as well.

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