Dy Upsets No. 1 Player, Reaches National Indoor Semis
Nov. 4, 2011
FLUSHING, N.Y. - Husky All-American senior Denise Dy marched into the final four of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships today, knocking off the nation's top-ranked singles player and defending NCAA Singles Champion Jana Juricova of California in a thrilling quarterfinal at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The win exorcised some personal demons for Dy against Juricova, the 2010-11 National Player of the Year and Honda Award Winner, as Juricova had defeated Dy in three straight matches over the past two years, all in the latter stages of major national tournaments.
As a sophomore, Dy defeated Juricova to win the 2009 ITA Northwest Regional title, but since then, Juricova posted straight set wins over Dy in the 2009 ITA National Indoor semifinals, the 2010 ITA All-American Championship semifinals, and the 2010 ITA National Indoor quarterfinals. Juricova also gave UW grief when she defeated former Husky Venise Chan in last year's NCAA Round of 16 en route to the title.
But today Dy stepped up in the clutch to earn a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win and get back to the National Indoor semifinals for the first time since that 2009 run.
"The last few times we played I wasn't even close," said Dy on facing Juricova. "She's just bigger and hits harder and higher than most people. I tried to not hit as flat and use a lot of spin and angles and mix it up today."
Juricova opened up a 4-1 lead in the first set before Dy broke back and tied it up at 4-all. The two traded service holds and then Dy got a break for a 6-5 lead and successfully served out the set, 7-5. Juricova, however, would come right back in the second set and use two service breaks to win, 6-2.
In the third set, Juricova held to start, then Dy held and followed with the first service break for a 2-1 lead. But she could not hold the break and Juricova evened it back up, 2-2. Then Dy answered right back with yet another service break, and this time she backed it up with a hold of her own serve for a 4-2 lead. The two then traded holds for 5-3 Dy. She did not wait for another service game, breaking Juricova one more time to secure the win.
One key difference this year was that Dy was not drained by her earlier round matches, giving her plenty of energy left to go three sets with Juricova.
In her round of 16 match early Friday morning, Dy had little drama in a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Virginia's 36th-ranked Emily Fraser.
Winning efficiently early "was definitely something that helped me out," said Dy. "Last year when I faced Juricova I was coming off a three and a half hour match that morning. It was fortunate that I was able to finish quickly and save a lot of my energy."
Now Dy will take on another familiar foe, SMU's Marta Lesniak, in Saturday's semifinal. The two have split a pair of previous meetings. Last month at the ITA All-America Championships, Dy was up a set and 4-1 on Lesniak, but wound up losing in three sets.
"I had her last time, and if I stayed a little more focus I should have got it," Dy said. "It's going to be another tough match because she's playing really well but I'm excited for it."
If Dy can reverse the outcome against Lesniak, she'd be UW's first national finalist since Kristina Kraszewski made the ITA National Indoor Championship finals in 2000.
The USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships are one of three major national tournaments in college tennis, along with the ITA All-American Championships and the NCAA Championships. Dy is the first Husky to ever make three career semifinal appearances in the majors.
Also of note, with her win last month over Stanford's Stacey Tan, Dy has now earned wins over both of last spring's NCAA singles finalists.
Washington Women's Tennis
Main Draw Singles - Round of 16
Main Draw Singles - Quarterfinals
(#) - refers to ITA national singles rankings; within this specific tournament, Dy is seeded 7th, Juricova is seeded 1st and Fraser is unseeded.