Top Husky Moments Of 2009: Chan Leads Incredible Comeback
Dec. 30, 2009
Washington made its return to the upper echelon of women's tennis in 2009, just three years removed from a three win season in 2006. The Huskies punctuated their resurgence with the biggest upset of the NCAA tourney's first two rounds, as sophomore star Venise Chan clinched a 4-3 win over 7th-seeded USC on May 10 to send Washington on to the Sweet-16 for the first time since 2004.
Chan trailed 23rd-ranked Maria Sanchez 2-5 in the third set at No. 1 singles with the overall match tied at 3-3. From there, Chan locked in and won three straight games to level the deciding set at 5-5, then Sanchez held serve for a 6-5 lead. Chan fell behind 0-30 in the next game, but Sanchez never got to match point as Chan came back to hold and force the tiebreaker.
Taking over as the aggressor, Chan won five of the first six points in the tiebreak and raced to her bench during the changeover, sensing the upset just two points away. Serving at 2-6 down, Sanchez double-faulted and the Huskies rushed to embrace their teammate.
To reach that pivotal moment, the Huskies still had to post three points against the Pac-10 Champion Trojans. It was a team effort, that required a complete culture change from past years according to head coach Jill Hultquist.
'I had tears of joy afterwards,' said Hultquist. 'They've worked so hard and worked together as a team this year. At the beginning of the weekend I reminded them my record the first two years. We didn't play for each other, and the result was we won three matches. I told them how working as a team had got us to 16-7 and that's what it was going to take this weekend.'
The Huskies (18-7) pieced together the win thanks to a stellar showing in doubles play, and earlier wins from freshman Samantha Smith and junior Aleksandra Malovic. UW led 3-1 after Malovic's win, but USC came back to win at second and third singles to set the stage for the dramatic conclusion.
USC had only lost twice all year. The loss snapped a 13-match win streak for the Trojans, who had won the Pac-10 with an 8-0 mark and were the first team other than Stanford to win the Pac-10 in 21 years. It was only the second win ever for the Huskies over the Trojans, but Washington had gained confidence in a 4-3 defeat to USC earlier in the year in Seattle, when Malovic and Joyce Ardies fought back to win third set tiebreaks despite the outcome of the match already being decided.
Washington had its run ended in the Round of 16, but returns every player for the 2010 season, and fantastic fall seasons from Chan and sophomore Denise Dy has the UW aiming even higher.