Huskies Kick Off Dual Play With Top-40 Matches At Cal
Jan. 25, 2012
ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27
SATURDAY, JANUARY 28
THIS WEEK: Thwarted by the Seattle snow last week in its scheduled home opener, the Husky women's tennis team will finally get its first dual play action this week. Washington, ranked 28th, will have to hit the ground running as the ITA National Team Indoor Championships qualifying rounds are already at hand. The tournament begins with sixty teams competing at fifteen regional sites around the country, with Washington heading to Berkeley, California. Winners of each four-team region move on to the final site, which this year is at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, from Feb. 10-13. Last season the Huskies scored two upsets of top-20 teams in Tallahassee, Florida to advance to the final site for the first time since 2005. To do so for a second straight year, the Huskies will first have to defeat No. 32 San Diego this Friday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m. Seventh-ranked Cal faces No. 36 UNLV in the other first round match. The winners then play at 1 p.m. on Saturday, following a consolation match between the two 0-1 teams.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Dawgs ended the 2011 season at 26th nationally and started 2012 one spot below that at No. 27 according to the Intecollegiate Tennis Association. A new set of team rankings came out Jan. 24, with the Huskies still waiting to play their first dual. UW fell one spot to 28th in the new poll. The only UW individual currently ranked is top-10 mainstay Denise Dy. The senior All-American was ranked fourth in the nation in singles at the start of the fall. Although Dy had another impressive fall, reaching the ITA National Indoor semifinals, she slipped to 10th in the first 2012 singles rankings. Dy ended the 2011 spring season ranked eighth nationally, the second-best year-end ranking in school history. She has been a near constant presence in the top-10 since 2010, her sophomore year, when she jumped from the fifties to No. 3 after a fantastic 2009 fall campaign.
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO: The Toreros finished the 2011 season ranked 30th overall after a 19-6 regular season and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Championships. The No. 30 final ranking was USD's highest since 1999, and it was also their first NCAA trip since that season. San Diego lost the WCC championship match to Pepperdine. The Toreros also had their season opener rained out last week, so Friday will be their spring debut. Laura Claus was an All-WCC First Team selection last year and Stephanie Hoffpauir and Juliette Coupez were both Second Team selections. Washington was upset by San Diego, 4-3, last year on the Toreros' home courts in a match that came down to third singles, where Claus edged Samantha Smith in a third set tiebreaker. The Huskies trail the all-time series, 8-15. Sherri Stephens has coached at San Diego for 28 years.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Huskies are certainly familiar with their Pac-12 rivals from Berkeley. The Golden Bears will play their season opener on Wednesday at Santa Clara. They are currently ranked seventh nationally after ending the 2011 season ranked ninth. Cal reached the NCAA round of 16 a year ago, and Jana Juricova went on to win the NCAA Singles Championship, the second Bear to do so. Juricova was ranked No. 1 in the fall, but Husky senior Denise Dy defeated Juricova in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Indoor Championships, snapping a three-match losing streak to the NCAA Champ. Cal has a huge amount of depth, with six players ranked. After Juricova, freshman Zsofi Susanyi is ranked 21st, followed by No. 32 Tayler Davis, No. 64 Cecilia Estlander, No. 74 Anett Schutting, and No. 81 Annie Goransson. Last year Cal had a 5-2 win over UW in Berkeley, though the Huskies won at No. 1 and 2 singles. Cal has a 25-3 lead in the all-time series.
SCOUTING UNLV: The 36th-ranked Rebels are off to a 3-0 start with wins over New Mexico State, Pacific, and Weber State. UNLV had both finalists in the fall at the ITA Mountain Region Championships, as spohomore Aleksandra Josifoska beat her teammate Lucia Batta to qualify for ITA National Indoors. Josifoska is now ranked 87th nationally and Batta is No. 121. The Lady Rebels finished last season ranked 38th after posting a 20-6 overall mark that included a perfect 8-0 run through Mountain West regular-season play, though they lost in the MWC tournament semis to TCU. UNLV made its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships, where they fell to San Diego in the first round. The Huskies are 4-2 overall against the Rebels.
FALL SEASON RECAP: The fall season provides ample opportunities for players at all stages of their collegiate careers to challenge themselves. The Huskies had three new freshmen in the fall of 2011 that dove right into tournament play while adjusting to college life. Meanwhile, senior Denise Dy was vying for national championships and picking up key early season wins that can help her question for a third All-America honor. Dy's exploits were the highlight for UW, as she capped off the fall by advancing to the ITA National Indoor Championship semifinals for the second time, narrowly losing a heartbreaker in the semis to Marta Lesniak of SMU, the eventual champion. It was Dy's third appearance in a national semi, the most in Husky history. UW opened at ITA Northwest Regionals, where all six Huskies in attendance opened with a win. Dy reached the semis and freshman Julija Lukac made the round of 16. The fall concluded for most of the squad at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno. Freshman Natali Coronel captured the B-flight singles title, while freshman Capucine Gregoire was the runner-up in the top flight, providing a high note to ride into the dual season in 2012.
UP NEXT: Washington takes a trip to Minneapolis for a pair of duals at the University of Minnesota. First up will be a neutral site match between the Huskies and 43rd-ranked William & Mary on Feb. 4. Then the Huskies and Gophers will go at it on Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
HEAD COACH Jill Hultquist: Now in year seven 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. Washington has had unprecedented individual success over the past two seasons, as junior Venise Chan and sophomore Denise Dy eached made the semifinals of ITA national singles championships, and both earned All-America honors in 2010 in singles and again in 2011 in both singles and doubles. They became the first All-Americans for Hultquist and first for UW since 2004. Washington has now made four consecutive NCAA tournaments under Hultquist, reaching the second round the past two years after the 2009 round of 16 run. In 2008, 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 (10) and Maggie (8).