Ardies, Dy Getting Back In Sync In Doubles

April 2, 2010

By Taylor Soper
The Daily

For senior Joyce Ardies, losing a doubles match was something unexpected.

After all, Ardies and fellow co-captain Denise Dy had not lost a doubles dual match the entire year. The pair -- at one point during this season ranked sixth in the nation -- would dominate opponents with the mix of veteran leadership from Ardies and the rare talent and athleticism of Dy.

But Dy injured her foot one month ago and couldn't practice for the better part of the past three weeks. This, combined with the fact that the Huskies faced their toughest competition yet in No. 21 USC and No. 5 UCLA last weekend, resulted in the pair losing not just one, but two dual-matches in Los Angeles this past weekend.

'Yeah, I was a little upset, because we had been so strong for so long,' Ardies said. 'We didn't play our best games, and the doubts started to rise in our heads.'

Already more than halfway through the season and with pivotal Pac-10 matches looming in the distance, this week wasn't a time to mope around and doubt their talent. Over the past few days in Seattle, the duo has practiced more, and the confidence is coming back, especially for Ardies, who seemed to struggle a bit more than Dy last weekend.

'I think this week was really good,' Ardies said. 'We really focused on doubles, and we could see some of the old `Denise and Joyce' back.'

Head coach Jill Hultquist said she worked with Ardies mainly on her returns -- something she struggled with in Los Angeles -- and situational points where Ardies may have made the wrong decision.

'She played a practice match [Wednesday] and did really well,' Hultquist said. 'We were pleased, and if she can take that into the match against Oregon, it will be good.'

The Huskies will face Oregon today at 1:30 p.m. in another Pac-10 conference matchup. The Ducks (6-12, 0-4 Pac-10) have been struggling this year, but that doesn't mean the UW is taking them lightly, especially considering the Huskies face Pac-10 powerhouses Stanford and Cal next weekend at home.

'You know, all Pac-10 matches are huge for us, but Oregon is one of our biggest rivals,' Hultquist said. 'Pride is always on the line, and we want to beat them.'

Now that Dy has bounced right back from her foot injury -- the sophomore picked up two more wins over ranked opponents this past weekend -- the Huskies are now at full strength.

Most players have been finding success in one way or another this season, but junior Lina Xu hasn't found her stroke quite yet. The native of Shanghai has lost six-straight dual matches at the No. 3 singles spot.

Both Hultquist and assistant coach Damon Coupe have been working with Xu this year to play more balls and snap out of some of her old, bad habits. Xu will often try to hit a winner on the second or third ball she is played, but that hasn't quite worked out for her.

'It's a bit of a hard change than what she's been used to,' Hultquist said. 'She came from Jacksonville (Xu transferred after her freshman year there) where they play smaller schools, and she got away with banging a winner on the second or third ball. We've been working hard on her patience and setting up the point.'

Xu says that for her, it's mostly mental.

'At the No. 3 spot, the girls have a similar stroke as the top players, but it's all mental: who can play more balls, who can stay [in the point] more than the opponent,' she said. 'It's very important to make more balls to give me more confidence. Later on, when I get in trouble or get a little weak-minded, I can at least know that I can play more balls to keep myself in the point.'

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