Women's Tennis Looks To Make Mark At Pac-10's
April 23, 2008
THIS WEEK: Postseason play begins for Washington women's tennis, as the team travels to Ojai, Calif. for the Pac-10 Championships. A total of nine Huskies will be participating in the tournament, which begins Thursday, Apr. 24 and continues through Sunday, Apr. 27. Early round play will take place at the Ojai Athletic Club, with semifinal and final round matches played at Libbey Park.
THE DRAW: Three Huskies are entered in the main singles draw, including senior Tara Simpson, sophomore Aleksandra Malovic, and freshman Venise Chan. Six Huskies will compete in the Invitational singles draw, led by sophomore Joyce Ardies, who is the No. 6 seed, and senior Allison Rainey, who just returned last weekend with at win at WSU after being out with illness for over two months. The singles draws will play two rounds on Thursday, then one round each day until the finals on Sunday. In doubles, Ardies and Simpson and Chan and freshman Kelsey Anonsen are both competing in the main doubles draw, which plays twice on Friday, then one round Saturday and Sunday.
Singles Main Draw - First Round
Aleksandra Malovic (UW) vs. (3) Marina Cossou (CAL), Thursday, 9 a.m.
Venise Chan (UW) vs. Claire Ilcinkas (CAL), Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
Tara Simpson (UW) vs. Danielle Steinberg (ARIZ), Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
Singles Invitational Draw - First Round
Allison Rainey (UW) vs. (4) Micaela Hein (ASU), Thursday, 8 a.m.
Vanja Radunovic (UW) vs. Isamarie Perez (STAN), Thursday, 8 a.m.
(6) Joyce Ardies (UW) vs. Ashlee Brown (ASU), Thursday, 9 a.m.
Kelsey Anonsen (UW) vs. Claudia Hirt (ORE), Thursday, 9 a.m.
Aleksandra Krsljanin (UW) vs. Lyndsay J. Kinstler (USC), Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
Ashley Anderson (UW) vs. (7) Cristala Andrews (USC), Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
Doubles Main Draw - First Round
Ardies/Simpson (UW) vs. Cossou/Ilcinkas (CAL), Friday, 10 a.m.
Chan/Anonsen (UW) vs. Lumpkin/Wetmore (UCLA), Friday, 10 a.m.
Doubles Invitational Draw - First Round
Malovic/Radunovic (UW) vs. MacFarlane/Olivos (ORE), Friday, 10 a.m.
Krsljanin/Rainey (UW) vs. (2) Fansler/Kinstler (USC), Friday, 10 a.m.
REGULAR SEASON IN A NUTSHELL: The Husky women's tennis program experienced a rebirth this year, becoming a team to be reckoned with once again following two years where wins were few and far between. The Huskies posted a 12-9 record, easily surpassing the eight combined wins of the past two seasons. For much of the season, UW started three freshmen, two sophomores, and just one senior in singles play. As can be the case with many such young teams, Washington thrived at home but struggled on the road. The Huskies were 11-2 in home matches, defeating the likes of Arizona State, Oregon, Washington State, BYU, Purdue, and San Diego State, but lost their final six road matches, including second encounters with the Ducks and WSU Cougars that left them at 2-6 in conference play. UW's 4-3 win over 12th-ranked Arizona State in their final home match was the first Top-25 win for the program since 2005. The Huskies also improved drastically in the rankings from their preseason No. 70 billing, cutting that number in half to finish the regular season 35th. Leading the team throughout the year were freshman Venise Chan at No. 1 singles, and senior Tara Simpson at the No. 3 spot. Chan defeated eight ranked players throughout the year, and climbed as high as 30th in her first season, while Simpson earned her first career singles ranking as well in her last year, peaking at No. 98. Simpson led the team with a 15-6 dual record, followed by Chan at 14-6, and sophomore Joyce Ardies also finished with double-digit wins, at 12-9.
LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies lost their regular season finale, 4-3, against Washington State last Saturday in Pullman. The WSU win snapped a two-match Husky win streak in the series. The teams have each won on their home courts in the last four meetings. Washington swept the doubles point, but could not carry the momentum into singles play. The biggest bright spot for UW was the return of senior Allison Rainey, who had not played since Feb. 2 due to mononucleosis. Rainey had won five-straight before her illness, and picked up where she left off with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Marina Nicolas at sixth singles. Joyce Ardies also had little trouble in a 6-2, 6-2 win over Aleksandra Cekic at No. 4 singles. The Cougars rallied to take the remaining four matches, with two tiebreak sets, and two 7-5 sets all going their way. The match was tied at 3-3 when Ekaterina Kamendova defeated Tara Simpson, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, and WSU clinched with Bianca Selaru finished off Kelsey Anonsen, 6-1, 7-5, at No. 5.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington dropped one spot in the latest ITA Rankings following their road loss last weekend. The Huskies are 35th, having cut their preseason No. 70 ranking exactly in half. This season, freshman Venise Chan and senior Tara Simpson each earned the first singles rankings of their careers, and Chan has maintained a Top-40 ranking for the past month. Chan dipped to No. 37 in the most recent poll, down from her season-high of No. 30. Chan was the first Husky freshman to earn a Top-30 ranking since former Husky Claire Carter in 2001, and is the highest-ranked Husky since Dea Sumantri in 2005. Carter and Sumantri went on to earn seven All-American awards between them. Simpson dropped from No. 122 to unranked this week for the first time since February. She had reached a season-high of 98. The senior is having her best season yet, and leads the team in dual wins with a 15-6 record, predominantly from the No. 3 singles position.
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 14-6 record in dual matches, and is 20-8 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 was ranked as high as No. 30 on two occasions before finishing the regular season at No. 37. The highlight of Chan's season, and the team as a whole, came in UW's last match against 12th-ranked Arizona State, when Chan saved match point to prevail in a third-set tiebreak against 28th-ranked Nadia Abdala, clinching a 4-3 upset win. Based on the current rankings, Chan has eight wins over ranked opponents, including wins over 18th-ranked Susie Babos of California, 28th-ranked Nadia Abdala of Arizona State, No. 36 Katrina Zheltova of Sacramento State, No. 45 Ekaterina Burduli of Washington State, No. 53 Anastasia Surkova of BYU, No. 56 Lindsey Nelson of USC, No. 77 Celine Rolly of Oregon, and No. 83 Sophie Kobuch of Hawaii. Babos and Nelson were the 2006 NCAA Singles Finalists, as well as the Pac-10 Championship finalists last season. Two of Chan's dual match losses came in a third-set tiebreaker to third-ranked Hilary Barte of Stanford, and 6-4 in the third set to No. 14 Riza Zalameda of UCLA after Chan led 3-0 in the deciding set. Also, three of her losses have come to players which she has also defeated once this season. Chan boasted a 12-match win streak from Nov. 9, 2007 through Feb. 17, 2008.
SIMPSON AND RAINEY LOOK TO EXTEND CAREERS: Senior stalwarts Tara Simpson and Allison Rainey have been through it all. Both were key contributors as freshman in 2005, when the Huskies were ranked in the Top-10 and last made the NCAA tournament. Then each persevered through the two losing seasons that followed as the Huskies waited to rebuild. Injuries to Rainey played a part in UW's struggles. However, the 2007-08 season has been the best of Simpson's career, as she has led Washington back into the Top-40. Simpson is sporting a 15-6 record in dual play and is 21-9 overall, leading the team in both cases, and she has earned the first singles rankings of her career this season, peaking at No. 98. Her upset win over 38th-ranked Cristina Visico of California provided a signature victory that helped boost her into the rankings. In UW's match against Arizona State, Simpson picked up her 73rd-career singles victory, tying Zuzana Stunova (1997-00) for eighth-place in school history, and she is just two wins shy of fifth-place. Simpson has also anchored UW's doubles lineup this season with sophomore Joyce Ardies. The two are 15-11 overall, and earned their first win over a ranked team against ASU, defeating the 28th-ranked Abdala sisters of Arizona State. Rainey started strong in dual play this year before being sidelined for an extended stretch with mononucleosis. After an opening dual match loss, Rainey won five straight before coming down ill. Rainey made her long-awaited return to the courts this past weekend, jumpstarting her win streak once again with a straight set victory over Washington State's Marina Nicolas. It was Rainey's first match since since Feb. 2 vs. San Diego State. Rainey's 7-2 record this year has pushed her over the .500 mark for her career (46-45) and the Huskies are hoping the Mercer Island native can stabilize the back end of their lineup with NCAA's close at hand.
UP NEXT: The Huskies will await their NCAA Tournament fate, as the brackets are revealed live on ESPNews on Tuesday, April 29, between 11 and 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. Individuals selected to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be revealed on Wednesday, April 30 on www.ncaa.com.
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.