34th-Ranked Huskies Visit No. 7 USC And No. 9 UCLA
March 5, 2008
THIS WEEK: Back in the Top-40 in March for the first time since 2005, the 34th-ranked Washington women's tennis team embarks on the toughest road trip of the season. The Huskies (9-3, 0-2 Pac-10) will look to score their first conference win on the home courts of seventh-ranked USC (9-3, 0-0 Pac-10) this Friday, Mar. 7, at 1:30 p.m., followed by a dual match at ninth-ranked UCLA (9-4, 0-0 Pac-10) on Saturday, Mar. 8, at 11 a.m. The road matches will be the first for the Huskies since their opening trip to Hawai'i in January.
SCOUTING USC: The Women of Troy, NCAA Quarterfinalists last season, moved up to seventh in the latest rankings following a 6-1 victory over California, and a 4-3 loss to Stanford. USC is 9-3, with two additional 4-3 losses to 14th-ranked North Carolina and sixth-ranked Georgia in the National Team Indoor Championships. The Trojans have six different singles players in the current rankings, led by 17th-ranked junior Amanda Fink. Senior Lindsey Nelson is ranked 38th, but has established herself as one of the best players in the college game by reaching the NCAA Singles Final each of the past two years. Nelson has battled injuries this season, and is only 9-7 overall, but still tops USC's lineup. Additional ranked Trojans include No. 66 Gabriela Niculescu, No. 101 Leyla Entekhabi, No. 105 Maria Sanchez, and No. 119 Sarah Fansler, the 2007 ITA National Rookie of the Year. Entekhabi, a freshman, is 10-0 in dual play thus far, mostly at No. 6 singles. Fink and Niculescu are also the eighth-ranked doubles team in the nation. USC swept the Huskies, 7-0, last season, and leads the all-time series 13-1. Richard Gallien is in his 13th season as head coach of the Women of Troy.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins were the 2007 NCAA Runner-Up, upsetting the fifth-, fourth-, and one-seeds before falling, 4-2, to No. 3 Georgia Tech in the title match. Every key member of that team is back this season. UCLA is ranked ninth and sports a 9-4 record. They have lost three of their past four but each loss was to a Top-20 team, and their win during that stretch came over No. 6 Stanford. UCLA was edged by Cal, 4-3, in their last match, and they will face Washington State before playing the Huskies. The Bruins have strong senior leadership, starting with seventh-ranked Riza Zalameda, a multiple All-American. Fellow senior Tracy Lin is ranked 58th, and senior Elizabeth Lumpkin is 56th. Senior Alex McGoodwin is also a very strong presence lower in the singles lineup. Lumpkin is the current Pac-10 Player of the Week, after defeating three consecutive ranked opponents out of the No. 5 singles spot last week. Additionally, sophomore Yasmin Schnack is ranked 46th, and freshman Andrea Remynse comes in at No. 36. Zalameda and Schnack were the Pac-10 Doubles Champions last year and are currently ranked 18th, although Zalameda and Lin have teamed together at No. 1 doubles recently. They are also ranked 15th. Lin and Remynse are 43rd in doubles, and Lumpkin and Stephanie Wetmore rank 51st. UCLA swept the Huskies last year in Seattle. Stella Sampras-Webster leads the Bruins for the 12th season. The Huskies are 2-16 all-time against UCLA.
LAST TIME OUT: Freshman Venise Chan improved to 11-1 at the No. 1 singles spot and clinched the Huskies ninth win of the season, beating Oregon's Celine Rolly, 7-5, 6-1. The victory gave the Huskies (9-3) the 4-0 lead over Oregon (5-6) in the non-counting Pac-10 match up at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The 42nd-ranked Huskies went on to win the match 6-1 over the 46th-ranked Ducks. Prior to Chan's win at No. 1, Husky freshman Vanja Radunovic was the first UW player to score a singles win. She shook off a slow start to win 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5 over Stephanie MacFarlane. UW sophomore Aleksandra Malovic was next off the court, dominating Oregon's Anna Powaska for a 6-2, 6-3 win. Malovic evened up her season record to 6-6 at No. 2 singles. The Ducks scored their lone point of the day at No. 4 singles where Carmen Seremeta beat Joyce Ardies 6-4, 6-3. Tara Simpson continued her excellent senior year defeating Ana Cecilia Olivos 6-0, 5-7, 10-2 in the supertiebreaker. Simpson cruised in the first set, before dropping the second frame. She bounced back in the supertiebreaker, jumping out to a 7-0 lead. In the last match of the day to wrap up, Husky freshman Kelsey Anonsen bounced back after losing the first set 2-6 to win 6-1, 6-3 at No. 6 singles.The Huskies started the day off on the right foot by winning two-of-three doubles matches to take the 1-0 lead. The No. 1 doubles team of Simpson and Ardies were the first off the court, jumping out 7-1 before holding on for the 8-5 win over Rolly and MacFarlane. Oregon squared things up at No. 3 with an 8-6 victory by Claudia Hirt and Serementa. Malovic and Radunovic trailed 7-1 before rallying to make it 7-6, but ultimately lost 8-6. The Huskies clinched the point at No. 2 doubles with an 8-3 win by Chan and Anonsen over Powaska and Cavan.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Washington women's tennis team has made a quick rise through the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Rankings this year, but earned its biggest payoff Tuesday when they broke into the Top-40 at No. 34. Freshman Venise Chan and senior Tara Simpson also earned the first singles rankings of their careers. 'We're really excited about being in the top-35 now in the country,' said third-year head coach Jill Hultquist. 'It gives me more confidence that we're making the right decisions. So we're just going to keep moving forward with the decisions we're making and keep going hard. The girls are thrilled, but they want to keep going higher.' Chan went from unranked to 41st in the latest poll, which ranks 125 singles players. She is the first freshman to earn a Top-50 ranking since former Husky Claire Carter in 2001. Carter went on to be a four-time All-American. Simpson is ranked 98th, her first time listed among the nation's Top-100. The senior is having her best season yet, and has matched Chan win for win in dual match play, predominantly from the No. 3 singles position. Her biggest win came two weeks ago in a third-set tiebreak over Cal's Cristina Visico, now ranked 32nd. No team has climbed higher in the rankings this season than the Huskies, who started the year at No. 70, and have climbed 36 spots to their current No. 34. They have improved their ranking in each of the six rankings periods this season.
CHAN MAKES CHANGE: Venise Chan has been the unquestioned top player on the squad since arriving in the fall, and has played every match at No. 1 singles, racking up an 11-1 record in dual matches, and is 17-3 overall. The diminutive but powerful native of Hong Kong earned her first career singles ranking this week, shooting all the way up to No. 41. Based on the current rankings, Chan has wins over 15th-ranked Susie Babos of California, No. 57 Katrina Zheltova of Sacramento State, No. 81 Sophie Kobuch of Hawaii. Her only dual match loss came in a third-set tiebreaker to 27th-ranked Hilary Barte of Stanford. She boasted a 12-match win streak earlier in the season.
SIMPSON HAVING SENIOR MOMENT: Senior stalwart Tara Simpson has been through it all. She was a key contributor as a freshman in 2005, when the Huskies were ranked in the Top-10 and last made the NCAA tournament. She also persevered through the two losing seasons that followed as the Huskies waited to rebuild. Now, Simpson is having her best season yet, leading Washington back into the Top-40. Simpson is sporting an 11-1 record in dual play and is 17-4 overall and just earned the first singles ranking of her career at No. 98. Her upset win over 32nd-ranked Cristina Visico of California provided a signature victory that helped boost her into the rankings. 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 69.
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.
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 8-4.
UP NEXT: Washington plays just once next week, hosting 36th-ranked Washington State in the first of two meetings between the schools this year. The Huskies and Cougars are set for action on Friday, Mar. 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.
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.