Women's Tennis Fall Season Preview
Oct. 2, 2009
By Jeremy Cothran
Some collegiate tennis programs worry about blending in young and veteran players during the fall season. Not Washington, which has no changes to its roster entering the 2009-10 campaign.
Instead, the Huskies will attempt to build on their run to the Sweet-16 of the NCAA tournament last year. Coach Jill Hultquist's hope is that the continued maturation of the veterans will create an atmosphere where the status quo is not tolerated.
'Our captains have done a great job of making sure everyone is organized and on task,' Hultquist said, 'and really staying on the goal of doing better than we did last year.'
Those captains would be Joyce Ardies and Denise Dy, a senior and a sophomore respectively, who also form one of the more imposing doubles partnerships in the Pac-10 Conference. Although they didn't officially pair together until midway through last season, Ardies and Dy formed an immediate chemistry, compiling a 12-2 record during their short tenure. That allowed them to break into the top-20 (17th) in the NCAA in the preseason doubles rankings.
Ardies and Dy receive their first test next week, beginning with the ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Many top doubles teams from around the country will be competing, which Hultquist acknowledged should be a challenging barometer for the Huskies top duo.
'We want to see where they're at after the summer,' Hultquist said. 'The tough thing for them is that they were a new team during the middle of the year, so they didn't get to go to the NCAAs. So the teams that are going to be playing are the ones who made NCAAs.'
In singles, the Huskies will once again showcase Venise Chan as their top player. The junior from Hong Kong went 28-7 last year, which earned her distinction as a Pac-10 First Team performer. With her selection, Chan became the third-ever Husky to earn such an honor. Chan had a productive summer as well, playing top-level competition in several tournaments in Asia. She went to the semifinals in a tournament in Japan, and then made the quarterfinals of a similar event in Shenzhen, China. Based on her success last year, Chan enters the fall ranked No. 16 in the country.
Chan wasn't the only player who achieved success this summer. Dy won the Washington State Open this summer at the Seattle Tennis Club with a three-set defeat of Arizona State's Kelcy McKenna, an All-American ranked seventh in the preseason singles poll.
Like most teams, the Huskies want to see how the middle of their rotation shakes out. The success of players like Dy (who played No. 2 singles last year), Lina Xu (No. 3), Samantha Smith (No. 4) and Aleksandra Malovic (No. 6) will be instrumental in determining whether the Huskies are poised for another breakout season.
Hultquist is looking at Dy particularly to make an impact in singles. The San Jose, Calif., native was 24-12 in her freshman season and earned honorable mention Pac-10 honors. The goal from the coaching staff this year is clear - make the NCAAs. Last year, only Chan represented the Huskies in the singles portion of the tournament, losing in straight sets to Denver's Mallory Voelker in College Station, Texas.
'Denise is so talented, she should have been a part of the NCAAs,' Hultquist said. 'That's who I'm really looking at to perform this year.'
Outside of Dy, the coaching staff wants to see whether players can step up and make an impact on the lineup. From No. 3 to No. 6 in the Huskies lineup, there is little separating the players in terms of ability. So Hultquist said she would like to see if her athletes can take it upon themselves to shake up the pecking order.
Still, the ultimate goal is for the Huskies to top their run from last season.
'Even though a Sweet 16 was great,' Hultquist said, 'it wasn't a National Championship. And that's been accomplished here in other sports at the University of Washington. So we know there is more room for improvement, and the girls want to achieve that.'
Chan, Ardies and Dy will compete in the All-American Championships next week, with Chan getting an automatic bid into the main singles draw. In mid-October the full team will head to the St. Mary's Invitational, with ITA Regionals following from Oct. 23-25 at Stanford. The fall season concludes with the SDSU Fall Classic in San Diego from Nov. 5-8.