Huskies Gut Out A Win In Pac-10 Opener

March 5, 2010

SEATTLE - Pac-10 play came exactly as advertised today for the Washington women's tennis team, as the 18th-ranked Huskies gritted out a 5-2 win over the 39th-ranked Arizona Wildcats outdoors at the Quillian Courts. Washington (9-1, 1-0 Pac-10) needed comeback wins in singles from sophomores Denise Dy and Samantha Smith to hold off the `Cats (8-3, 0-1 Pac-10).

Both Dy and Smith struggled mightily in their first sets, as the Huskies lost four first sets in singles to give Arizona the momentum despite a UW win in the doubles point. Dy, ranked No. 7 nationally, lost her first set, 6-1, to 106th-ranked Sarah Landsman. But Dy remained patient in the second set and began moving Landsman around more effectively and before long Dy had a 6-0 win to force a deciding set. With UW up 3-1 overall but the last three matches in doubt, Dy came back from 3-4 down in the final set with three straight games to finish a 1-6, 6-0, 6-4 win and clinch the team victory. Dy picked up her 20th win of the year against just three losses.

Smith also was a different player after a slow start at No. 4 singles against Ariane Masschelein. After dropping the first set, 2-6, Smith stepped up her game and from there earned consecutive 6-2, 6-2 sets to earn UW's fifth and final point of the day. Smith has come back from a set down to win her last three matches, and has won 10 of her last 11 overall.

'This was similar to our match at Arizona last year where we lost the doubles and then squeaked it out 4-3,' said head coach Jill Hultquist. 'We played great doubles today though. Arizona has tough, scrappy players, and after the doubles we went into the locker room and talked about needing to stay disciplined and focused on ourselves. Samantha and Denise had slow starts but they both managed to tough it out in the third. I was really proud of them.'

The No. 1 singles match pitted two ranked players against each other in 16th-ranked junior Venise Chan and Arizona's 89th-ranked Natasha Marks, who was a Pac-10 Singles Finalist last year. The first set was level at 5-5, before Chan got hot and reeled off eight of the next nine games for a 7-5, 6-1 win, her ninth over a ranked opponent this year.

Washington got a very quick point from senior Joyce Ardies, who cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Natalia Toporowska before some other first sets were completed. That put UW up 2-0. Arizona's first point came at third singles where Alexandrina Naydenova defeated junior Lina Xu, 6-2, 6-2. After the match was clinched, UA's Claire Rietsch thwarted the comeback bid of senior Aleksandra Malovic. Malovic forced a third set, but was two points short in the 10-point super-tiebreak, as Rietsch won 7-5, 3-6, (10-8).

The Huskies had some of their best play in doubles to open the match, especially on courts two and three. Chan and Smith quickly ran away with an 8-1 win at No. 2 doubles over Landsman and Rietsch. Xu and Malovic then clinched the point with an 8-2 win over Masschelein and Toporowska. That just left UW's 9th-ranked duo of Ardies and Dy, who prevailed, 8-6, over Marks and Naydenova, maintaining their unblemished 10-0 record at No. 1 doubles.

Washington will likely face an even tougher challenge on Saturday, as Arizona State visits for a 12 noon start back on the Quillian Courts. The 44th-ranked Sun Devils are ranked a few spots lower than their in-state rivals, but Coach Hultquist knows that doesn't reflect reality right now.

'Arizona State is under-ranked by far. We're expecting a dog fight. If we win tomorrow I'd consider that a huge victory for us,' Hultquist said.

Washington Women's Tennis
March 5, 2010 - Seattle, Wash.
Bill Quillian Courts

No. 18 Washington 5, No. 39 Arizona 2

1. (9) Ardies/Dy (UW) def. Marks/Naydenova (UA), 8-6
2. Chan/Smith (UW) def. Landsman/Rietsch (UA), 8-1
3. Malovic/Xu (UW) def. Masschelein/Toporowska (UA), 8-2
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1

1. (16) Venise Chan (UW) def. (89) Natasha Marks (UA), 7-5, 6-1
2. (7) Denise Dy (UW) def. (106) Sarah Landsman (UA), 1-6, 6-0, 6-4
3. Alexandrina Naydenova (UA) def. Lina Xu (UW), 6-2, 6-2
4. Samantha Smith (UW) def. Ariane Masschelein (UA), 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
5. Joyce Ardies (UW) def. Natalia Toporowska (UA), 6-0, 6-1
6. Claire Rietsch (UA) def. Aleksandra Malovic (UW), 7-5, 3-6, (10-8)
Order of finish: 5, 3, 1, 2, 6, 4

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