Women's Tennis Set For Pac-10s In Ojai
April 22, 2009
THIS WEEK: The annual trip to Ojai, Calif. for the individual Pac-10 Championships is at hand for UW women's tennis. The Pac-10 tourney, held Thursday-Sunday, April 23-26, is the main attraction of the 109th Annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament. Husky singles players and doubles teams will vie for conference titles in their final preparations for the NCAA Championships which begin the second week of May. Individual NCAA bids could potentially ride on this weekend's results for a few Huskies. Singles play begins Thursday morning and doubles starts Friday. The women will play at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club Thursday and Friday. All semifinal and final matches on Saturday and Sunday are at Libbey Park.
THE DRAW: The Championships feature a Main Draw and an Invitational Draw in both singles and doubles. The 32-player main singles draw consists of three players from each of the nine schools that sponsor women's tennis, with five additional competitors selected by a committee of coaches, based upon the participant's record. The 16-team women's doubles draw will have one doubles team from each school and seven additional teams selected by the committee, based upon the participants' record. One player noticeably absent from the tournament is top Husky Venise Chan, who will be resting a minor injury sustained in her last match against Oregon. While Chan, ranked 18th, is safely in the NCAA Singles Tournament for the second year, freshman Denise Dy could benefit from a win or two to boost her No. 77 ranking up as the NCAA field includes 64 players. Dy and Joyce Ardies are also hoping to earn some rankings points to help their case for an NCAA Doubles bid. The two are ranked 42nd and 32 teams make nationals.
Washington First Round Match-Ups
Main Singles Draw (Thursday)
Denise Dy vs. Ekaterina Kamendova (WSU), 8 a.m.
Lina Xu vs. Marina Cossou (Cal), 9:30 a.m.
Samantha Smith vs. Aleksandra Cekic (WSU), 12:30 p.m.
Main Doubles Draw (Friday)
Ardies/Dy vs. Remynse/Schnack (UCLA), 10:30 a.m.
Invitational Doubles Draw (Friday)
Krsljanin/Nicolas (WSU) vs. Cavan/MacFarlane (Ore), 9 a.m.
Smith/Xu vs. Fournier/Gomez (WSU), 10:30 a.m.
REGULAR SEASON RECAP: The 2009 Huskies won the most matches of any UW team since the 2004 squad which made the NCAA Quarterfinals, going 16-7, and earning three Pac-10 victories for the first time since 2005. Washington only played seven of their 23 matches at home, going 7-4 in away matches and 4-0 in neutral site matches, which was a drastic improvement over 2008 when UW won only once away from Seattle. On March 3, the Dawgs were ranked a season-high 23rd. Six of UW's losses were to Pac-10 schools ranked in the Top-20 at match time; outside of conference play the team went 13-1. All this came without a single senior on the roster. All season, UW's top four singles players were comprised of two sophomores and two freshmen. Sophomore Venise Chan was dominant at the top spot, going 20-3 at No. 1 singles and 27-5 overall heading into postseason play. She reached a new career-high No. 18 ranking prior to the Pac-10 Championships. Freshman Denise Dy also made a dazzling debut in purple this season, going 17-6 at No. 2 singles and spending most of the season ranked in the Top-80. She also played every match at No. 1 doubles, lately teaming up with junior Joyce Ardies to go 9-1 down the stretch. The Huskies earned Pac-10 wins over Arizona, Washington State, and Oregon, winding up alone in sixth-place with a 3-5 conference record. Washington scored at least two points in all but one match this year, the exception being a 6-1 loss at Stanford.
CHAN HITS NEW HIGH RANKING: Enjoying one of the best seasons by any Husky in history, Venise Chan hit No. 18 in the ITA individual rankings today, a new career-high for the sophomore star. At 27-5, Chan could potentially threaten the UW single season wins record of 32 set by Claire Carter in 2000-01. She is now the first Top-20 player for Washington since three-time All-American Dea Sumantri peaked at No. 5 during the 2005 spring season. Chan began the dual season ranked 81st, jumped up to No. 53 in the next set of rankings, and entered the Top-25 for the first time on March 3 when she was ranked 21st. Elsewhere in the rankings, UW's red-hot new No. 1 doubles tandem of freshman Denise Dy and junior Joyce Ardies came in at No. 42, down six spots from their debut ranking last week despite winning twice last weekend. The two have played just 10 matches together, teaming up for the first time on March 13 vs. Michigan State. But Ardies and Dy have shown instant chemistry, going 9-1 at the top spot, including an 8-6 win over UCLA's Remynse and Schnack, who are currently ranked third. Chan and Dy also remain at No. 84 despite not having teamed together since March 7. Dy also moved up on spot in the singles rankings to No. 76 this week. Dy started the dual season ranked 112th before climbing to a season-high No. 59 ranking back on March 3. Dy has seven wins over ranked players. As a team, the Dawgs declined one spot from 30th to 31st despite going 2-0 last week. The team has been ranked as high as 23rd. 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.
HUSKIES SWEEP NORTHWEST RIVALS: The Huskies closed out the regular season last weekend against Washington State and Oregon on back-to-back days and left little doubt as to who the top team was in the Northwest this season, winning both matches, 6-1. On Saturday, Washington swept the doubles point against the Cougars and then won five singles matches in straight sets. The Huskies again swept doubles on Sunday against the Ducks, and won five more straight set singles matches. The only lost points for UW on the weekend came in third set super-tiebreakers after the match had been clinched. Venise Chan, Denise Dy, Samantha Smith, and Joyce Ardies combined to go 8-0 in singles over the weekend. Against Oregon, Ardies and Lina Xu both won their matches by 6-0, 6-0 scores.
CHAN'S WIN STREAK HITS TEN: It has now been more than a month since sophomore Venise Chan lost a set in singles play. Last weekend Chan ran her win streak at No. 1 singles to 10 matches, with straight set wins over Washington State's Ekaterina Kamendova and Oregon's Carmen Seremeta. Two weeks prior, Chan enjoyed perhaps her best week of the year when she went 4-0 in singles and doubles play against UCLA and USC, with every win coming against a ranked singles player or doubles team. Chan swept UCLA's 16th-ranked Yasmin Schnack and USC's 33rd-ranked Sarah Fansler at No. 1 singles, marking her second Pac-10 weekend sweep this season. Earlier in the year, Chan beat Jana Juricova of Cal and Hilary Barte of Stanford on back-to-back days. It is still the only dual match loss for Barte, who is 19-1 and the top seed in the Pac-10 Championships. Chan is now 27-5 overall on the year and 20-3 at No. 1 singles. From November 7 to February 28, Chan won 14 out of 15 matches. Four of the players were ranked at the time, and two more have since entered the rankings. Based on the current singles rankings, Chan has defeated the No. 5, No. 10, No. 13, and No. 17 singles players, a big reason she has entered the Top-25 for the first time in her career. After starting the dual season ranked 81st, Chan hit a career-high No. 18 on April 21. With 27 singles wins and NCAA's still ahead of her, Chan stands a good shot at becoming the fifth Husky ever to win 30 matches in a season, and could threaten the single season record of 32 wins set in 2000-01 by Claire Carter if she makes a good run at NCAA's. Her 27 wins currently ranks ninth on UW's single season list.
ARDIES, MALOVIC COME FULL CIRCLE: Washington's two most experienced players on its young roster are juniors Joyce Ardies and Aleksandra Malovic. The pair joined the team in trying times, when the Huskies were coming off a three win rebuilding season, but now are enjoying their second straight winning season and experiencing their greatest level of individual success as well. Both players have been invaluable at anchoring the bottom part of the singles lineup. Ardies currently boasts a 26-7 singles record and is 18-4 in dual matches, mostly at the No. 5 spot. She has blown past her previous season-bests of 16 wins as a sophomore and 14 as a freshman. Malovic has also posted double digit dual match wins for the first time, with a 16-7 record so far mostly at sixth singles. With 20 total wins, Malovic has also easily surpassed her previous best wins total and has pushed her career record over .500 for the first time. The two have also come through in the clutch this year, with Malovic clinching UW's 4-3 win over Arizona, and Ardies scoring the knockout punch against Illinois, another 4-3 decision. Ardies has quickly formed a dynamic doubles partnership with freshman Denise Dy. The two are 9-1 so far at No. 1 doubles and upset 2nd-ranked Schnack and Remynse of UCLA on April 3rd. They debuted at No. 36 in the ITA doubles rankings on April 14, while Malovic has also earned a doubles ranking of 78th with Venise Chan helped by two wins over ranked teams from UCLA and USC.
UP NEXT: Washington will learn its NCAA fate this coming Tuesday, April 28, when the team selections are announced live on ESPNews at approximately 2:20 p.m. Pacific time. The team brackets will be posted on the NCAA.com site shortly after the completion of the televised announcement, but no later than 3 p.m. Pacific. The list of individuals selected to the singles and doubles championships will be posted on both websites no later than 6 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday, April 29.
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).