Women's Tennis Bound for Michigan

March 25, 2008

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THIS WEEK: Non-conference play comes to an end this week for the 35th-ranked Washington women's tennis team, as they travel to the state of Michigan for two matches. The Huskies (10-6, 0-5 Pac-10) will visit Michigan State on Wednesday, Mar. 26 at 11 a.m. PT before heading to Ann Arbor to face 29th-ranked Michigan on Thursday, Mar. 27 at 12 p.m. PT.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans are 9-6 and 1-1 in the Big Ten coming off a 6-1 win over Purdue and a 4-3 loss to Illinois. The Huskies also played Purdue and Illinois earlier in the year, and defeated the Boilermakers by a similar 6-1 margin, and defeated the Fighting Illini, 4-3. Senior Christine Bader is MSU's No. 1 singles player, and has compiled an 8-7 dual record and is 14-9 overall. Junior Stephanie Kebler is 9-4 at No. 3 singles, while freshman Lindsey Lonergan is 10-3 at No. 4 singles. The Spartans are coached by former Washington State Cougar Erica Perkins, who is in her second season in Lansing. This is the first meeting between Washington and Michigan State.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN: The Wolverines are 7-4 with some impressive wins on their resume. They have been ranked in the Top-30 throughout the season. Michigan has defeated No. 19 Notre Dame and No. 20 Tennessee, both by 4-3 scores. They also swept Oregon in February, whom the Huskies have split two matches with. Junior Chisako Sugiyama is Michigan's No. 1 singles player, and is ranked 66th in the nation. Also ranked is sophomore Tania Mahtani and No. 106. The two also comprise the No. 46 doubles team. Michigan was 17-8 one year ago, reaching the NCAA Second Round. Ronni Bernstein is in her first season as head coach at Michigan, after 10 years at Florida International. The Wolverines won the only previous dual against the Huskies.

LAST TIME OUT: The 35th-ranked Washington women's tennis team may have shown some rust after not playing for 10 days, as they were upset, 5-2, by No. 60 Oregon on Monday at Oregon's Student Tennis Center. Despite defeating the Ducks, 6-1, in Seattle earlier in the month, the Ducks scored the win in the official Pac-10 match, dropping the Huskies to 10-6, and 0-5 in conference. Washington was dealt a tough blow to start the day, as Oregon prevailed in the doubles point, winning a tiebreaker at No. 2 doubles to clinch the point. UW's No. 1 team of Joyce Ardies and Tara Simpson fell to Oregon's Anna Powaska and Celine Rolly, 8-4, but Washington got the win at No. 3 doubles with Vanja Radunovic and Aleksandra Malovic defeating Stephanie MacFarlane and Ana Cecilia Olivos, 8-5. With the point on the line, UW's freshman duo Venise Chan and Kelsey Anonsen went to a tiebreak against Claudia Hirt and Carmen Seremeta, but fell short, 7-5. Singles play was closely contested throughout, with four matches stretching to three sets, but the Huskies could only pull out two wins. Simpson, ranked 99th, overcame Powaska, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7) at No. 3 singles, and Radunovic responded to a 6-3 first set loss by cruising past Hirt, 6-1, 6-1 in the next two sets at No. 5. The rest of the matches went to the home team. 30th-ranked Chan was upset, 6-4, 6-2 by Rolly at No. 1 singles, after Chan had delivered a straight-set defeat to the Oregon freshman in the earlier match. At No. 2 singles, Seremeta outlasted Malovic, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-1. Ardies took the first set off MacFarlane at fourth singles, but then lost the momentum and the match, 6-4, 6-3. At No. 6, Olivos downed Anonesen, 6-4, 6-0.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Washington women's tennis team has made a quick rise through the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Rankings this year, re-entering the Top-40. Freshman Venise Chan and senior Tara Simpson also earned the first singles rankings of their careers earlier in the season and maintained them in the March 18 rankings. Chan climbed to a career-high No. 30 ranking in the latest poll, which ranks 125 singles players. She is the first freshman to earn a Top-30 ranking since former Husky Claire Carter in 2001, and the highest-ranked Husky since Dea Sumantri in 2005. Carter and Sumantri went on to earn seven All-American awards between them. Simpson is ranked 99th, one spot down from her previous ranking. 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. Only Arkansas has climbed as far in the rankings as the Huskies this year. UW started the year at No. 70 and has since jumped 35 spots to No. 35.

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 a 13-3 record in dual matches, and is 19-5 overall. The diminutive but powerful native of Hong Kong earned her first career singles ranking in the March 4 poll, shooting all the way up to No. 41, then rose another 11 spots to No. 30 in the most recent edition. Based on the current rankings, Chan has wins over 15th-ranked Susie Babos of California, No. 41 Katrina Zheltova of Sacramento State, No. 52 Lindsey Nelson of USC, No. 54 Ekaterina Burduli of Washington State, No. 86 Anastasia Surkova of BYU, No. 88 Sophie Kobuch of Hawaii, and UW's own 99th-ranked Tara Simpson in the Husky Classic final in the fall.. Babos and Nelson were the 2006 NCAA Singles Finalists, as well as the Pac-10 Championship finalists last season. Two of Chan's three dual match losses came in a third-set tiebreaker to eighth-ranked Hilary Barte of Stanford, and 6-4 in the third set to No. 7 Riza Zalameda of UCLA after Chan led 3-0 in the deciding set. 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 a 13-3 record in dual play and is 19-6 overall and has earned the first singles rankings of her career in the last two polls, now ranked 99th. Her upset win over 37th-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 71.

UP NEXT: The Huskies return to Seattle for their final home matches of the season. Washington will look for its first Pac-10 win against Arizona on Friday, Apr. 4 at 12 p.m., then face the 15th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday, Apr. 5, also at 12 noon. Following that match UW will end the regular season at Washington State.

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.

HEAD COACH Jill Hultquist: Jill Hultquist is in her third season as the head coach of the Washington women's tennis team, and already the program's outlook is much brighter than what she faced in her first two seasons. Hultquist, a former standout on the pro tour and in the collegiate ranks, returned to Washington after serving as an assistant coach with the Huskies from 1997-2002. During her first tenure at UW, Hultquist helped lead the Huskies to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances including a school record trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2001. Hultquist was named the National Assistant Coach of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in 2001. She was also selected as the ITA Northwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year in both 2000 and 2001. Among the players Hultquist mentored in her previous tenure at Washington were all four All-Americans in school history: Claire Carter, Kristina Kraszewski, Dea Sumantri and Darija Klaic. Before joining the coaching ranks at Washington, Hultquist played professionally on the WTA Tour from 1987-1997, winning more than 20 doubles titles. She ranked as high as sixth in the world in doubles and 64th in the world in singles. Hultquist teamed with former UW coach Patty McCain on the doubles circuit, and among their victories was a win over Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini in the semifinals of the 1988 U.S. Open. They also advanced to the finals of the 1989 Australian Open. Hultquist reached the mixed doubles finals of the French Open in 1995 and competed in the Olympic Games for Canada in 1984, 1988 and 1996. Also a standout collegian, Hultquist earned four All-America certificates at the University of Florida, while studying psychology from 1983-1987. She ended up earning her bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Washington in 2000.

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