Huskies Face Top-20 Teams In Arkansas

Jan. 26, 2010

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Friday, Jan. 29, 1 p.m.
#23 Washington at #18 Arkansas

Saturday, Jan. 30, 8 a.m. or 12 p.m.
#23 Washington vs. #16 South Carolina/#19 Michigan (in Fayetteville)

THIS WEEK: The season picks up in a hurry this week for the No. 23 Washington women's tennis team, as the Huskies travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship qualifying rounds. The Huskies are part of a foursome that includes 18th-ranked Arkansas, 19th-ranked Michigan, and 16th-ranked South Carolina, with the winner of the group advancing to the National Team Indoor final site in Madison, Wisconsin, held between Feb. 12-15.

There are 15 sites similar to Arkansas around the country this weekend as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The winner of each site will join with host-school Wisconsin to comprise the field for the National Indoor title. Washington could make a big statement with a pair of wins this weekend. Either way, the Huskies will get two matches against Top-25 teams. First off the Huskies will have to get past Arkansas. The dual with the Razorbacks is set for Friday, Jan. 29, at 1 p.m. Pacific time. Michigan and South Carolina face off Friday as well. Then the winners and losers of each match will play Saturday, Jan. 30, at 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Pacific.

Washington (2-0) is coming off a pair of home wins to open the season over BYU and Utah. Last year the Huskies beat North Carolina State in their first National Indoor qualifier, then fell to California on the second day. This is just the second year of the qualifying rounds. The UW last made the trip to Wisconsin for National Team Indoors was in 2005 when it tied for fifth.

CHAN WINS THIRD PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior Venise Chan's 2010 season is off to an impressive start, as the 11th-ranked Husky was named Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 18-24. Chan was 2-0 in both singles and doubles as the 24th-ranked Huskies opened their dual season with 6-1 wins over BYU and Utah. Against the Cougars, Chan took out 54th-ranked McCall Jones in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. She also partnered with sophomore Samantha Smith in doubles, posting an 8-1 win at No. 2 over BYU's Doerr and Nedakovic. The next day, Chan slid to the No. 2 singles spot for the first time in her career, allowing 3rd-ranked sophomore Denise Dy to take a shot at No. 1 for the first time. Both won again, with Chan earning the day's fastest win, a 6-1, 6-3 decision over Erin Monson. She and Smith won again at second doubles, 8-6, over Utah's No. 2 team. Chan now owns three of Washington's four all-time Pac-10 Player of the Week honors, an award which started in 2006.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington opened dual match play at home against 64th-ranked BYU and 62nd-ranked Utah. The Huskies hadn't played at home since April of 2009, but got back in the groove quickly on its home courts. In doubles against the Cougars on Saturday, Joyce Ardies and Denise Dy stormed out with an 8-3 win over the 18th-ranked pair of McCall Jones and Megan Price. UW swept doubles and then took five of six singles matches, all wins in straight sets. Venise Chan won the final three games in each set to beat 54th-ranked Jones, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 singles. Dy rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Kristina Doerr at No. 2 and Ardies was equally efficient at No. 4, winning 6-0, 6-2 at No. 4 over Elizaveta Ezhova. Samantha Smith and Aleksandra Malovic also won in straights. Sunday morning, UW followed a similar pattern, sweeping doubles and earning five singles wins to beat the Utes. For the first time in her career, Chan played second singles, allowing third-ranked Dy her first shot at No. 1. Both women won at their new spots, with Dy scoring a 6-2, 6-4 win over Anastasia Putilina that clinched the win for Washington. Malovic netted another straight set win at No. 6. The final two points came in third set super-tiebreaks. Lina Xu came back from a 3-6 first set loss to win the second set 6-3 and the tiebreak, 10-8 over Paige Miles at No. 3. Smith also came back to win 4-6, 6-1, (10-6) at fifth singles.

HUSKIES RETURN FROM MICHIGAN WITH KEY WINS: Washington opened its 2010 season in Ann Arbor, Michigan last weekend as the 20th-ranked Wolverines hosted a four-team tournament that also included 7th-ranked Miami and 11th-ranked Tennessee. Over three days, the teams played one group in singles and another in doubles and kept points for individual wins rather than team scores. Venise Chan played three highly-ranked opponents at No. 1 singles, earning wins over 36th-ranked Denise Muresan of Michigan and 7th-ranked Laura Vallverdu of Miami in a third-set tiebreak. Vallverdu was the 2009 NCAA Singles Runner-Up. Chan's only loss came in three sets to 6th-ranked Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee. Denise Dy was 2-0 at the No. 2 singles position, including a win over 99th-ranked Bianca Eichkorn of Miami. Other big wins came from Samantha Smith at No. 5 against Miami and Aleksandra Malovic at No. 4 versus Tennessee.

SCOUTING ARKANSAS: The 18th-ranked Razorbacks opened their season with a double-header against Oklahoma State and Saint Louis at home. Arkansas swept OSU and posted a 6-1 win against the Billikens. Arkansas returns three letterwinners from a team that went 15-8 in 2009 and made the NCAA Round of 16, falling to eventual NCAA Champion Duke, 4-2. The Razorbacks are very young this year, with all sophomores and freshmen except for junior Anouk Tigu who was ranked 59th in the fall. The Huskies and Razorbacks have never met.

SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA: The Huskies would be glad to get another shot at South Carolina, as the 16th-ranked Gamecocks are the team that knocked Washington out of the NCAA Championships in the Round of 16 last season. South Carolina lost three starters including its No. 1 singles player from 2009, but added a large group of six freshmen. Senior Ana Marija Zubori is ranked 38th nationally in singles, while sophomore Anya Morgina is ranked 69th.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN: The Huskies and 19th-ranked Wolverines are very familiar with each other, having just faced off at the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor earlier this month. On the first day of the tourney, Washington and Michigan met in singles play, with Venise Chan and Denise Dy winning at the top two singles positions but Michigan winning spots three through seven. UW played without Joyce Ardies, its No. 4 singles player. Chan defeated 36th-ranked Denise Muresan, 6-3, 7-5, at No. 1 singles. The Huskies also played at Ann Arbor in 2008, with Michigan earning a 7-0 sweep. Michigan is 1-0 thus far having swept Western Michigan in its opener. The Wolverines finished 2009 ranked 18th and made the NCAA Second Round.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington debuted at 24th in the first ITA team rankings released January 5, then moved up one spot to 23rd on Jan. 26. That is up four spots from where the Huskies finished the 2009 season. The real news of the last set of individual rankings was the outstanding new career-high rankings for both Venise Chan and Denise Dy. Chan, already ranked 16th in the preseason, climbed to 11th following her impressive fall. Dy, meanwhile, rocketed up the rankings from 58th to 3rd after a string of huge wins during fall tournament play. Dy already has wins over both the No. 2 and No. 4-ranked players in the country. Adding to the good news was the doubles ranking for Dy and senior Joyce Ardies. They moved up to No. 11, another career-high for both. Lina Xu and Samantha Smith also earned their first career doubles ranking, checking in at No. 44. Dy's No. 3 singles ranking is the highest for a Husky since Kristina Kraszewski earned the No. 1 spot back in 2000.

UP NEXT: The Huskies will be back home in two weeks time to face Portland on February 5 at 1 p.m., followed by a dual against San Diego State on February 7 at 10 a.m. The Huskies and Aztecs have been frequent competitors, and UW knocked SDSU out of the NCAA tourney in the first round last year.

CHAN AND DY ON FIRE IN THE FALL: The 2009 fall season will go down as one of the best in Husky history, as both Denise Dy and Venise Chan had multiple outstanding tournament runs. Dy showed sings of what was to come during the summer, when she won the Washington State Open, beating Arizona State All-American Kelcy McKenna in the final. Starting with the ITA Northwest Regional Championships, Dy really caught fire. In the quarterfinals, she upset reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year Hilary Barte of Stanford. Next Dy beat Mallory Burdette, ranked 16th in the latest rankings, in a third set tiebreak. In the championship match, She took down fourth-ranked Jana Juricova of Cal, the 2009 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, in straight sets to become the first Husky ever to win the Regional title. That earned Dy a spot in the ITA National Indoor Championships, where she joined Chan. At the Indoors, Dy beat three more Top-25 players, including Barte again, to reach the semifinals. She had a three-set win over Anastasia Petukhova of Fresno State, who moved up to No. 4 in January. In the semis, Dy was unable to get past Juricova a second time, and the Cal sophomore then took the title. Chan's National Indoor run was also special, as she joined Dy in the quarterfinals, highlighted by a win over 20th-ranked Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame. Chan started her fall off with a semifinal run of her own, as she reached the final four at the ITA All-American Championships. Her run included wins over No. 23 Lenka Broosova of Baylor, and rival Pac-10 First Teamers Kelcy McKenna of ASU and Marina Cossou of Cal, both ranked in the Top-20. Chan's run was halted in the semis by Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi in a 7-5, 7-6 heartbreaker. Falconi would win the tournament and assume the No. 1 ranking after the fall. It was Falconi again that topped Chan at National Indoors.

HEAD COACH Jill Hultquist: Entering year five of her tenure, head coach Jill Hultquist has ushered in a rebirth of the women's tennis program. In just four 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. The turnaround was made official when the Huskies reached the NCAA Round of 16 in 2009 with a stunning upset of Pac-10 Champion USC. Hultquist was named the Northwest Region Head Coach of the Year for her efforts in 2009, as the Huskies went 18-8 and finished the season ranked 27th. Sophomore Venise Chan earned her first All-Pac-10 First Team honor and became the third Husky ever to end the year ranked in the Top-25, finishing 25th. One year prior, Hultquist guided the Huskies back to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2005, and the Huskies climbed back into the ITA Top-40 after nearly a two-year absence. 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 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. 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 (8) and Maggie (6).

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