UW Women Face #46 Oregon

Feb. 27, 2008

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THIS WEEK: The Husky women's tennis team faces a critical match against the rival Oregon Ducks this weekend, as the Dawgs look to get back in the win column after tough losses to two of the nation's top teams last weekend. The 42nd-ranked Huskies (8-3, 0-2 Pac-10) and 46th-ranked Ducks (4-4, 0-0 Pac-10) both need the match to continue climbing the rankings, but this match will not count towards conference standings. First serve is set for Saturday, March 1 at 12 p.m. at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. Admission and parking are free as always for fans.

SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks are right on Washington's heels in the rankings, sitting at No. 46. Oregon is 4-4 on the season and coming off three consecutive matches against Big-Ten members. The Ducks defeated Purdue, 4-3, in Eugene, then lost on the road to No. 21 Michigan, 7-0, and No. 45 Ohio State, 5-2. The Boilermakers are a common opponent for the Ducks and Dawgs, and both teams picked up wins, although the Huskies scored one more point in their win. Much like the Huskies, the Ducks are led in the No. 1 spot by a freshman: Celine Rolly of Belgium. Rolly is 10-11 overall this season and 5-3 at No. 1 singles thus far. Oregon has only one senior, Anna Powaska, who has played second singles for the Ducks in their past five matches. Powaska is 4-4 in dual play. Washington and Oregon split their two meetings last season, with each winning on the other's home court. The Huskies closed out their 2007 season with a 5-2 upset of then-No. 38 Oregon, getting wins from returners Tara Simpson, Joyce Ardies, and Melinda Wong. Powaska beat Allison Rainey for one of Oregon's points. Oregon is led by second-year head coach Paul Reber, who took the Ducks to the NCAA Tournament last year with a 12-11 record, despite an 0-8 Pac-10 mark.

LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies got to see just how far they've come in a year's time last weekend when they hosted No. 3 Stanford and No. 11 California, two of last year's Final Four teams. Although the scores were not in their favor--a 7-0 loss to Stanford and 5-2 to Cal--the Huskies competed well in nearly every match and came away knowing they could play with the top teams. As they have all season thus far, freshman Venise Chan and senior Tara Simpson turned in the best singles showings. Chan nearly got the Huskies on the board against the Cardinal, losing in a third-set super-tiebreak to 49th-ranked Hilary Barte, 10-5. Chan dropped the first set, 6-1, before digging in and taking the second in a tiebreak, to force the super-tiebreaker. Simpson also responded from a tough 6-2 first set loss to push ninth-ranked Jessica Nguyen in the second set, but fell, 7-5. Sophomore Joyce Ardies scored UW's only other set win, grabbing the second set from 45th-ranked Whitney Deason, but Deason prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. Washington got into the win column against an extremely deep Cal team that has five ranked singles players. In doubles, Chan and freshman Kelsey Anonsen defeated Marina Cossou and Claire Ilcinkas, 8-6 at No. 2 doubles. The point was there for the taking, but Cal came through 8-5 at No. 1 and 8-6 at No. 3. An anticipated challenge for Chan at No. 1 singles in the form of seventh-ranked Susie Babos turned into a rout -- in Chan's favor. Chan dismantled the 2006 NCAA Singles Champ and current ITA All-American Champ, 6-0, 6-1. Babos did not get a game until the match was 6-0, 5-0. The Bears went on to clinch, but the weekend ended on a high note, as Simpson battled back to upset 41st-ranked Cristina Visico, 2-6, 7-5 and 16-14 in a marathon super-tiebreak in which she saved one match point, and needed six of her own to put Visico away.

• The Huskies rose another spot in the current ITA Rankings despite their two losses last weekend. Washington has climbed higher in every set of rankings this season since their preseason No. 70 billing. UW is currently No. 42. No team in the nation has made a bigger jump than the Huskies since the preseason rankings came out on January 8. Washington's 28 spot improvement is followed by Arkansas, which has jumped 27 spots from No. 53 to No. 26 and Louisville which climbed 25 places from No. 75 to No. 50.
• Washington's recent eight-match winning streak was its longest since a 10-match win-streak during the 2002-03 season. Washington reached the NCAA Round of 16 that year. The team's 8-1 start was its best since beginning the 2004-05 season 10-1.
• Venise Chan is 10-1 at No. 1 singles, and 13-1 in her last 14 matches dating back to the fall. Chan is 16-3 overall, and already avenged one of her two losses. San Diego State's Holly Bagshaw defeated Chan in three sets in the fall when Chan was suffering from the flu. When the two teams met on Feb. 2, Chan beat Bagshaw easily, 6-2, 6-3. Based on the current rankings, Chan has wins over seventh-ranked Susie Babos of Cal, 36th-ranked Katrina Zheltova of Sacramento State, and 67th-ranked Sophie Kobuch of Hawaii.
• Tara Simpson is also sporting a 10-1 record in dual play. With her upset win over No. 41 Cristina Visico on Saturday, Simpson surpassed her entire 2007 win total with at least 10 dual matches remaining. In UW's match against Purdue, Simpson picked up her 66th career singles win, moving her past Cindy Olejar (1988-91) on UW's career singles wins list for 10th place by herself. Simpson has since upped her total to 68.
• The Huskies play a ranked team in every remaining match except the March 26th meeting at Michigan State. Washington has four matches against Top-25 teams upcoming.
• The Huskies have used five different players at No. 6 singles this year. Allison Rainey, Melinda Wong, Vanja Radunovic, Kelsey Anonsen, and Aleksandra Krsljanin have all seen time at No. 6, and the five have combined to go 7-4.

UP NEXT: The Huskies head south for what will be the most difficult road trip of the season. Awaiting them will be USC and UCLA, the two of which are coincidentally tied at No. 11 in the current ITA Rankings. USC was an NCAA Quarterfinalist last year and UCLA was the NCAA Runner-Up. The Huskies first challenge the Women of Troy on Friday, March 7 at 1:30 p.m., then serve it up against the Bruins on Saturday, March 8 at 12 p.m.

FOLLOW ALONG LIVE: Much the same as in years past, GoHuskies.com will provide live video and live scoring updates for those Husky fans unable to make the trip to the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The video streams will focus on the No. 1 singles match and also cover the No. 3 singles match when possible. Links to streaming video can be found by going to the women's tennis schedule on GoHuskies.com, and clicking on that day's match.

CHAN AND SIMPSON GARNER PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS: At the start of the 2006 season, the Pac-10 Conference instituted tennis player of the week honors. Over the first two seasons of the award, the Huskies went without an honoree. This season, however, Washington captured the award two times in the first three weeks. Venise Chan was named Pac-10 Womens Tennis Players of the Week for Feb. 11-17, when the Huskies posted wins over Purdue and Illinois. Chan battled through illness over the weekend, but was still able to defeat two top players from the Big Ten. On Feb. 16, she lost the first set to Brooke Beier of No. 43 Purdue, but rebounded to win 2-6, 6-0, 7-5. Chan returned on Feb. 17, seemingly with no ill effects from the day before, to dominate No. 68 Illinois' top player Megan Fudge, 6-0, 6-1. Senior Tara Simpson earned UW's first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3. Simpson helped Washington to a 3-0 weekend which included an upset of 46th-ranked San Diego State. She went a combined 6-0 in singles and doubles over the weekend and posted her 65th career singles win which tied her for 10th all-time at Washington.

FALL SEASON A SUCCESS: The Huskies had their best fall season in several years, highlighted by the singles play of Venise Chan and the doubles play of Tara Simpson and Joyce Ardies. The fall began with ITA Regionals, where four Huskies picked up their first career singles wins. The women then competed at the SDSU Fall Classic #2, where Simpson and Ardies captured the main doubles title with a 9-7 win over a talented pair of Aztecs. The fall schedule finished up with the Husky Invitational, where UW dominated their northwest foes. Chan defeated Simpson for the Flight I singles title, and teamed with Aleksandra Malovic to surprise Ardies and Simpson, 8-3, in the doubles final. Malovic also won Flight 2 of singles and freshman Ashley Anderson won the third singles flight. Malovic's seven fall singles wins were the most on the squad, while the doubles teams of Simpson and Ardies, and Chan and Malovic both went 5-1.

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