Women's Tennis Heads To Berkeley For National Indoor Qualifying
Jan. 27, 2009
THIS WEEK: The Huskies will put their hot start on the line in the qualifying rounds for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships this weekend in Berkeley, Calif. The Golden Bears, ranked second in the nation and the 2008 NCAA runners-up, play host to a four-team bracket that will send a winner to the finals of the ITA National Team Indoors. Washington, ranked 38th and off to a 3-0 start, will face 36th-ranked North Carolina State on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 2 p.m., while Cal will play No. 48 Long Beach State in the morning. The winners and losers will then face each other on Sunday, Feb. 1, at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.
THE ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: This is the first year that the ITA has instituted qualifying matches for the National Team Indoors. In past years 16 of the top teams were invited to participate based on the previous year's final rankings. There are 15 qualifying draws that will take place this weekend as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, and each winner will head to Madison, Wisc. from Feb. 13-16 to compete for the indoor title. Wisconsin, the host school, gets an automatic bid. Washington has been selected to compete in four previous ITA National Team Indoor Championships (2001, 03, 04, 05) with a best finish of third in 2004 that included wins over No. 23 Tennessee and No. 6 Vanderbilt.
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA STATE: The 36th-ranked Wolfpack is off to a 1-1 start, defeating Elon (6-1) in their opener before falling to Old Dominion (5-2) this past Saturday. NC State has made the NCAA Championships for three years running, and lost in the first round last year to William & Mary to finish with a 13-11 overall record. Sophomore Lenka Hojckova is ranked 87th nationally in singles, and played No. 2 in their most recent match. Junior Daria Petrovic has been ranked in singles during her career and has started the season at No. 1. Head coach Hans Olsen is in his eighth season and is NC State's all-time winningest coach. This will be the first meeting between UW and NC State.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears are coming off a best-ever NCAA runner-up finish in 2008 and are ranked a program-high No. 2 at the moment. Cal lost to Pac-10 rival UCLA in last year's NCAA Championship match, finishing 21-6. California has four players currently ranked in singles as well as two doubles teams. Sophomore Marina Cossou is ranked 13th, senior Bojana Bobusic is 15th, senior Claire Ilcinkas is 30th, and freshman Jana Juricova ranks 52nd in singles. In doubles, Cossou and Ilcinkas are ranked 7th, while Juricova and senior Marion Ravelojaona are 49th. Cossou and Ilcinkas pulled out an 8-6 win over UW's Venise Chan and Denise Dy in the quarterfinals of ITA Regionals in the fall. Last season Cossou and Ilcinkas both earned All-America honors. Cal defeated the Huskies, 5-2, last season with UW scoring big upsets at first and third singles. Chan upset then-No. 7 Susie Babos at No. 1 singles and graduated senior Tara Simpson defeated Cristina Visico at No. 3. Amanda Augustus is in her second year as coach of the Bears.
SCOUTING LONG BEACH STATE: The 49ers of Long Beach State are ranked 48th and will play their season opener on Wednesday against 10th-ranked USC. Leading the way is senior Hannah Grady, currently ranked No. 68 in singles. Grady is the three-time Big West Conference Player of the Year and was 26-10 last season, earning her second career NCAA Singles Championships bid. Long Beach State won the Big West title for the fifth-straight year in 2008, going 19-7 and falling in the first round of the NCAA Championships to Denver. They return five of the six players from that team. Jenny Hilt-Costello is in her 12th season coaching LBSU and is a four-time conference coach of the year. They hold an 8-4 edge in the all-time series with Washington.
CHAN NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Husky sophomore Venise Chan was been named the Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 19-25. Chan led Washington (3-0) to a pair of road victories against BYU and Utah over the weekend. Chan, a native of Hong Kong, China, went a combined 4-0 in singles and doubles for the 38th-ranked Huskies, who defeated No. 47 BYU, 6-1 on Jan. 24 and then swept No. 50 Utah on Jan. 25. Ranked 81st in singles, Chan defeated BYU's McCall Jones and Utah's Anastasia Putilina at the No. 1 singles spot, and her win at Utah was the clinching point. She also teamed with freshman Denise Dy to pull out a pair of 9-7 victories at No. 1 doubles. The Pac-10 weekly honor was the second of Chan's career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor, and the third all-time for Washington.
LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies were very sharp in picking up two convincing road victories over dangerous opponents last weekend. Washington had not earned a road win over a ranked opponent since 2005, yet achieved the feat on consecutive days Saturday and Sunday. First up, the Huskies scored a 6-1 victory over 47th-ranked BYU in Provo, Utah. Freshman Denise Dy clinched the victory with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of 96th-ranked Kristina Doerr at No. 2 singles. Samantha Smith, Joyce Ardies, and Aleksandra Malovic won their four, five, and six singles matches in straight sets, none of them surrendering more than three games in a set. The next day in Salt Lake City, the Huskies swept 50th-ranked Utah, dropping just one set in singles play. Venise Chan clinched the win with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Anastasia Putilina at No. 1 singles. Four first sets went to at least 7-5 against the Utes but the Huskies hung tough and took five of the first sets. Ardies completed the sweep with a win over Leigh Walsh in a third-set super-tiebreak at the fifth spot. Chan and Dy won both of their No. 1 doubles matches by 9-7 counts and Malovic and Lina Xu were also 2-0 at No. 3 singles.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington women's tennis team received a No. 38 preseason ranking from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), up two spots from the end of the 2008 season. Sophomore Venise Chan and freshman Denise Dy also picked up individual singles rankings, as well as a doubles ranking. Chan, who was ranked 28th in the fall and finished last season at No. 37, saw her ranking drop to 81st overall but will have plenty of time to climb back up with a few big wins and challenge for a second NCAA Championships bid. Dy, a San Jose, Calif. native, is ranked 112th (out of 125). Chan and Dy had a great fall playing doubles together, going 6-1, and they head into the spring season ranked 47th. Regional rankings also peg Chan 11th, Dy at No. 17, and freshman Samantha Smith at No. 25. Chan and Dy are 6th in the region in doubles.
UP NEXT: Washington goes back on the road once more, this time to the state of Minnesota for a pair of matches against ranked opponents. The Huskies will play a neutral site match on Saturday, Feb. 15 against 46th-ranked Marshall at 11 a.m. Pacific time at the University of Minnesota. The next day, UW will take on Minnesota at 9 a.m.
FALL RECAP: The Huskies enjoyed a busy fall season, making three trips down to California for tournaments. The 2008-09 season began at the St. Mary's Invitational. Freshman Samantha Smith went 5-0 in her first weekend of college tennis to win the B-fligth singles draw, and junior Joyce Ardies outlasted sophomore teammate Lina Xu to win the main draw consolation bracket. Smith had two 6-0, 6-0 wins, including in the final against Ashley Pane of Santa Clara. Meanwhile, Venise Chan was in Los Angeles competing in the qualifying draw of the Riviera ITA All-American Championships. Chan went 1-1, defeating TCU's 47th-ranked Nina Much-Soeggard but falling against 109th-ranked Bianca Eichkorn of Miami in three sets. Next up was ITA Regionals hosted by Cal. Chan and freshman Denise Dy had the best showing, making the doubles quarterfinals and giving the 24th-ranked duo of Cossou and Ilcinkas of Cal a major battle before losing, 8-6. Chan also made the round of 16 in singles. Finally, the Huskies traveled to San Diego for the SDSU Fall Classic, and dominated the competition. Chan won the singles flight over Dy, and Smith once again captured the B-flight. Dy picked up back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, upsetting 93rd-ranked Ana Maria Constantinescu of Oklahoma and 117th-ranked Holly Bagshaw of SDSU, and Chan and Dy captured the doubles title.
THE SCHEDULE: The Huskies will have to keep their bags packed for much of the 2009 season, as they play only eight home dates while facing a minimum of fifteen matches on the road. For a young team, getting over any road jitters will be an important hurdle that, if cleared, will be a big advantage come tournament time. After opening at home against Portland on January 17th, the women will hit the road for nearly a month, with two-match road swings through Utah, the Bay Area, and Minnesota. At the end of January, UW will be in Berkeley to partake in the expanded ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which this year include four-team regional qualifiers. The Huskies will be at the qualifying bracket hosted by California, and will play North Carolina State in the first round. Washington's Pac-10 slate is spread out from the end of February until the last match of the year on April 18 against WSU. The Huskies will face an extremely challenging four-match road stretch at California, Stanford, Arizona, and Arizona State from Feb. 27-Mar. 7. They host Oregon on March 21, and the L.A. schools on April 3-4. Last season, the Pac-10 once again proved its dominance, with UCLA defeating California in the NCAA Final. Another highlight on the schedule is a spring break trip to Hawai'i that will mix business and pleasure. The team will play three matches in four days against Cal Poly, Illinois, and Hawai'i before they can relax. There can be no mistaking the difficulty of the schedule, playing in the premier conference with the majority of matches on the road. But the coaches and players know that to take the next step in the rankings and in the tournament, those are the matches they need to win.
HEAD COACH Jill Hultquist: Entering year four of her tenure, head coach Jill Hultquist has ushered in a rebirth of the women's tennis program. In just three years, Hultquist took a 3-17 team and restored stability, added depth and an influx of talent, and brought the Huskies back to national prominence and back to the NCAA Championships. Last season Hultquist guided the Huskies back to NCAA's for the first time since 2005, and the Huskies climbed back into the ITA Top-40 after nearly a two-year absence. Hultquist brought in freshman Venise Chan, who went straight to the top of the singles lineup and reached the NCAA Singles Championship, helping to change the tenor of the program. Hultquist is the fourth head coach in program history, and succeeded Patty McCain, whom Hultquist worked with as an assistant for five seasons from 1997-2002. During her first tour of duty at UW, Hultquist helped lead the Huskies to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances including a school record trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2001. In fact, it was Hultquist who served as the acting head coach for the team during its Elite Eight run, as McCain was unable to travel to Stone Mountain, Ga., due to the impending birth of her first child. That run included a Sweet-16 victory over fifth-ranked Tennessee. 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. 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 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. A native of Toronto, Canada, Hultquist and her husband Rich have two children, Jack (7) and Maggie (5).