Huskies Look To Tame Cougars And Ducks To End Regular Season
Sophomore Venise Chan hits new career-high No. 20 in the ITA singles rankings.
THIS WEEK: The regular season comes to an end with two major rivalry matches for the 30th-ranked Washington women’s tennis team this weekend on its home turf. The Huskies (14-7, 1-5) will be looking to head into the postseason with a pair of Pac-10 wins as they host Washington State (8-17, 1-6) and 64th-ranked Oregon (9-12, 1-6). Two wins would give UW sixteen for the year, its most since 2004 when the women won 21 matches and made the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Huskies and Cougars renew their rivalry on Saturday, April 18, at 12 noon, with the Ducks visiting the following day for another noon first service. Matches will be played at the Bill Quillian Courts with free admission for all fans.
CHAN AND DOUBLES TEAMS HIT NEW HIGH RANKINGS: Enjoying one of the best seasons by any Husky in history, Venise Chan hit No. 20 in the ITA individual rankings today, a new career-high for the sophomore star. At 25-5, 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. Chan’s new high watermark was just part of the positive news to come from today’s rankings, as UW’s red-hot new No. 1 doubles tandem of freshman Denise Dy and junior Joyce Ardies shot into the rankings for the first time this wek, jumping all the way up to No. 36. The two have played just eight matches together, teaming up for the first time on March 13 vs. Michigan State. But Ardies and Dy have shown instant chemistry, going 7-1 at the top spot, including an 8-6 win over UCLA’s Remynse and Schnack, who are currently ranked fourth. UW’s No. 2 doubles team of Chan and junior Aleksandra Malovic also earned their first doubles ranking, coming in at No. 78. Chan and Dy also remain at No. 68 despite not having teamed together since March 7. Dy also moved up on spot in the singles rankings to No. 77 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 climbed five spots this week to No. 30 after two road wins over ranked foes last weekend. 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.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars are 1-6 in Pac-10 play and 8-17 overall. WSU snapped a five-match losing streak by sweeping Eastern Washington in its most recent outing. Conference play has been a struggle for the Cougars, but they were able to pull out a key 4-3 win at home against the Ducks, with wins at the top three singles spots. The Huskies and Cougars have numerous opponents in common; WSU falling to Utah, BYU, Hawai’i, San Diego, and Arizona, all teams which Washington defeated. Sophomore Ekaterina Kamendova has played No. 1 singles most of the year for the Cougars, with senior Aleksandra Cekic in the No. 2 spot. Freshman Elisabeth Fournier has been solid at No. 3, and has earned 21 singles wins this season to lead the team. Last year the two teams split a home and home series, with UW winning 6-1 in Seattle but WSU pulling off a 4-3 upset in Pullman in the Pac-10 counting match. The Huskies hold a sizeable 45-9 lead in the all-time series.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks have gone 9-12 this season but have proven to be dangerous with a few upset wins under their belt. Oregon is 1-6 in Pac-10 play, but knocked off Arizona, 4-3, in Eugene. They swept the Cougars at home but lost to WSU, 4-3, in the Pac-10 match in Pullman. Oregon was swept by both Cal and Stanford in its two most recent duals. The Ducks earned an upset of No. 54 San Diego at home by a 4-3 count but also fell, 5-2, to Cal Poly last week. Washington defeated both USD and Cal Poly by a combined 13-1 margin. Senior Carmen Seremeta is the Ducks top singles player and has gone 12-19 overall this season. Oregon’s top doubles team of Ana Cecilia Olivos and Pavlina Smatova are currently ranked 70th by the ITA. The Huskies and Ducks split two matches last season, each winning on their home courts. Washington has owned the series historically, with a 56-7 advantage.
HUSKIES SWEEP IN SAN DIEGO: The Pac-10 schedule was put on hold last week as the Huskies headed to San Diego for two very dangerous dual matches against 42nd-ranked San Diego State and 54th-ranked San Diego. Washington successfully avoided any possible slip ups to the home teams, as they swept the Aztecs and downed the Toreros, 6-1. Against the Aztecs on Friday, UW had to deal with the emotional rise any team gets out of its Senior Day, as San Diego State paid tribute to its seniors. The Huskies, however, were unmoved and took every singles match in sraight sets after securing the doubles point. Denise Dy, Lina Xu, and Samantha Smith all rebounded from a tough weekend against the L.A. schools with wins at second, third, and fourth singles, respectively. At No. 1 doubles, Dy and Joyce Ardies continued to gel with an 8-2 trouncing of the 58th-ranked team of Holly Bagshaw and Julia Trunk. The next day they earned another 8-2 win over San Diego’s top team to help secure the doubles point to open that match. Xu and Smith also won both their doubles matches at the No. 3 spot over the weekend. Despite the doubles win, the Toreros kept things close early in singles, winning three of the six first sets. However, Dy and Ardies both quickly rebounded from first set losses to win, and Venise Chan, Smith, and Aleksandra Malovic all won in straight sets to cement the win.
CHAN’S WIN STREAK HITS EIGHT: 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 eight matches, with straight set wins over San Diego State’s Holly Bagshaw and San Diego’s Juliette Coupez. That was following 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. Chan is now 25-5 overall on the year and 18-3 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. 8, No. 9, No. 14, and No. 15 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. 20 on April 14. With 25 singles wins and two more dual matches, the Pac-10 Championships, 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. Chan will be seeking to make her second consecutive NCAA Singles Championships this year.
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 24-7 singles record and is 16-4 in dual matches, mostly at the No. 5 spot. She has easily surpassed 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 15-6 record so far mostly at sixth singles. With 19 total wins, Malovic has also blown past her previous best wins total and has pushed her career record over .500 for the first time. Both women picked up gutsy three-set wins over USC two weeks ago then won both of their matches in San Diego last week. 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 7-1 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 also earned a doubles ranking of 78th with Venise Chan.
UP NEXT: Washington will head to Ojai, Calif. for the annual Pac-10 Championships, an individual tournament to crown conference champs in singles and doubles. The tourney runs from Thursday, April 23 through Sunday, April 26.
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).