Trio Of Matches Await Huskies In Hawai'i

March 23, 2009

THIS WEEK: The 31st-ranked Huskies take their spring break vacation in Manoa, Hawai'i this week, but have a lot of business to tend to on the island as well, as Washington (9-5, 1-3 Pac-10) plays three matches in four days. Tuesday, the Huskies play Cal Poly at 1 p.m. Pacific followed by a dual match against Hawai'i on Wednesday at 2 p.m. After a day to rest on Thursday, the Dawgs close out the road trip with a key non-conference match against 32nd-ranked Illinois on Friday, March 27 at 1 p.m. Pacific. All matches will be at the UH Tennis Complex.

SCOUTING CAL POLY: The Mustangs are 9-5 overall and 4-2 in Big West Conference play this season. They are currently unranked. Last match, Cal Poly lost, 5-2, to 57th-ranked Pepperdine. Juniors Brittany Blalock and Suzie Matzenauer have shared time at first and second singles for the Mustangs. Blalock is 11-2 in dual play and is ranked 71st in singles. She earned a win over then-13th-ranked Maria Sanchez of USC earlier this year. Matzenauer is a Tacoma, Wash. native and transferred to Cal Poly this season from Northwestern. Blalock and junior Steffi Wong comprise the No. 1 doubles tandem, and have gone 9-4 at the top spot. Washington the only previous meeting between the schools.

SCOUTING HAWAI'I: The Rainbow Wahine are 7-6 on the season and just had a five-match win streak snapped in a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Arizona, whom the Huskies defeated, 4-3. Prior to that match, Hawai'i upended UW's rival Washington State Cougars, 4-3. Hawai'i also lost dual matches to Pac-10 teams Stanford (7-0) and UCLA (6-1). Last season the Huskies defeated the Rainbow Wahine, 7-0, in the second match of the season. Junior Sophie Kobuch leads Hawai'i at No. 1 singles for the second straight year. Last year, Venise Chan defeated Kobuch, 7-5, 6-4, in the top singles match. Hawai'i also features former Husky Melinda Wong, who joined the team this year for her final year of eligibility and played No. 3 singles in Hawai'i's most recent outing. Wong lettered three years for UW and was 6-4 in singles last year. Washington holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini have consistently ranked in the 30-40 range in the ITA polls this season. They have posted an 11-3 record thus far and are 3-1 in Big 10 play, with their only loss coming to top-ranked Northwestern, 6-1. Against the Wildcats, Megan Fudge got a straight set win at No. 2 singles for Illinois, and she has gone 13-1 at No. 2 singles this year. Leigh Finnegan has gone 10-4 at No. 1 singles, and Shivani Dave is 7-1 at Nos. 5 and 6. Finnegan is ranked 103rd in singles and Fudge is ranked 108th. Last year the Huskies pulled out a 4-3 win over Illinois, sweeping the doubles point and then winning at first, third, and fouth singles. Venise Chan defeated Fudge, 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1, while Finnegan played No. 2 at the time and outlasted Aleksandra Malovic, 6-4, in the third set. Joyce Ardies defeated Dave at fourth singles.

LAST TIME OUT: The Husky women's tennis team ran Michigan State out of the Nordstrom Tennis Center with a 7-0 sweep on March 13, avenging a loss to the Spartans from a year ago. The Huskies broke a four-match skid in the doubles point with the help of a lineup switch. Junior Joyce Ardies and freshman Denise Dy teamed up at No. 1 and clinched the point with an 8-3 win over Manon Noe and Whitney Wilson. Ardies and Dy won seven games straight after being down 1-3. At No. 2 doubles, sophomore Venise Chan and junior Aleksandra Malovic rolled to an 8-3 win over Stephanie Kebler and Elena Ivanova. Sophomore Aleksandra Krsljanin and freshman Samantha Smith then completed the sweep with an 8-5 win in the third doubles slot. Moving on to singles play, Dy drilled Manon Noe at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-0. Ranked 59th in singles, Dy improves to 11-3 in dual play. Shortly thereafter, Ardies joined her doubles partner in the win column, defeating MSU's Wilson, 6-2, 6-2 at fifth singles.Malovic got the clinching point, defeating Ana Milosavljevic, 6-1, 6-4 at No. 4 singles. This was the second straight clincher for the Husky junior. 21st-ranked Venise Chan then took out Kebler, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 1 singles to put the Dawgs ahead, 5-0. Washington completed the sweep thanks to hard fought comebacks at third and sixth singles. At No. 3, Smith was having a hard time with Ivanova, trailing 1-6, 1-3, before she found her stroke and won five straight games to take the second set. With UW having clinched, the two played a super-tiebreak for the third set and Smith won out, 10 points to five. A similar story played out at No. 6, where Krsljanin bounced back after losing the first set, 5-7, to Lindsey Lonergan. Krsljanin won the second set without dropping a game, and then also won, 10-5, in the super-tiebreak.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington climbed five spots in the ITA rankings last released on March 17. The Huskies went from 36th to 31st following their win over Michigan State. The team has been ranked as high as 23rd this season. UW's No. 23 ranking on March 3rd was its first time back in the Top-25 since the first poll of the 2006 season. In the most recent individual polls, sophomore Venise Chan slipped six spots to No. 27, and freshman Denise Dy went from 59th to 69th. Chan's season-high No. 21 ranking a few weeks back made her UW's first Top-25 player since three-time All-American Dea Sumantri, who peaked at No. 5 in 2005. Chan began the dual season ranked 81st, jumped up to No. 53 in the next set of rankings, and now has surpassed her previous career-high No. 30 ranking set last season. Dy is currently 69th in singles, after starting the year ranked 112th. She has seven wins over ranked players. Chan and Dy are also ranked 50th as a doubles tandem, and have been ranked as high as No. 28.

UP NEXT: The Huskies return to Pac-10 play next week, as they host UCLA and USC. Washington faces the defending NCAA Champion Bruins on Friday, April 3, at 12 p.m. The next day, April 4, the 10th-ranked Trojans pay a visit for a 12 noon match. Weather permitting, the matches will be played outdoors on the Bill Quillian Courts.

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