Huskies Look To Build Momentum With Minnesota Trip
Feb. 2, 2012
SATURDAY, FEB. 4 MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.
SUNDAY, FEB. 5 MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.
THIS WEEK: Having jumped right into the season with a pair of top-40 dual matches last week, going 1-1 in the process, the 28th-ranked Husky women's tennis team looks to continue rounding into form with another challenging road trip this week. Washington will head to Minneapolis for a neutral site match against 50th-ranked William & Mary, followed by a dual against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Washington started four freshmen and a sophomore last week along with seniors Denise Dy and Samantha Smith, and the road will continue to test UW's experience before the women come home for seven straight in Seattle. Saturday's match with William & Mary is set for a 1 p.m. Pacific start, and Sunday the Dawgs and Gophers start at 11 a.m. Pacific.
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 today, Feb. 2, with the Huskies remaining at 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.
LAST TIME OUT: Washington opened up dual play with two tough matches in Berkeley last weekend as part of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship qualifying rounds. In the first round, the Huskies faced 32nd-ranked San Diego in their season opener. With four freshmen making their dual match debuts, the Huskies came out ahead, 5-2, thanks in large part to newcomers Natali Coronel and Julija Lukac who each won three setters to finish off the Toreros. Leading 3-2, Lukac closed out a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback over Maja Sujica at No. 6 singles to clinch, and then Coronel capped off a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over Marite Raygada at fifth singles. Also victorious were senior Denise Dy at No. 1 singles, and sophomore Andjela Nemcevic at No. 4 singles, both in straight sets. UW won the doubles point, with Dy and Samantha Smith getting an 8-5 win at No. 1 and Nemcevic and freshman Capucine Gregoire winning, 8-3, at No. 2. The next day the Huskies went against 7th-ranked Cal with the winner advancing to the national indoor final site. Cal proved to have too much depth, starting five ranked singles players, and won, 5-2. Dy posted a big point at No. 1 singles, beating 21st-ranked Zsofi Susanyi, 6-1, 6-4. Lukac came up with the second point, completing a 2-0 weekend, defeating Alice Duranteau in a third set super-tiebreak, 7-6 (3), 1-6, (10-6).
SCOUTING WILLIAM & MARY: The Tribe of William & Mary competed in the qualifying rounds last week for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, playing in the Atlanta Region hosted by Georgia Tech. William & Mary lost a very close match to 21st-ranked South Carolina, as four matches went three sets. Junior Marlen Mesgarzadeh upset 33rd-ranked Jaklin Alawi at second singles. Sophomore Jeltje Loomans plays No. 1 singles and was an NCAA Singles Championship competitor last year, falling in the first round. William & Mary also played third-ranked Duke in its season opener, losing 7-0, and lost to 54th-ranked Georgia State. Last season the Tribe won the Colonial Athletic Assocation title and lost in the NCAA first round to Yale, finishing with a 16-9 record. This will be the first meeting between the programs.
SCOUTING MINNESOTA: The Gophers are off to a 2-0 start and will play William & Mary on Friday before facing the Huskies. Minnesota got season opening wins over Iowa State and Creighton. The Gophers are looking to bounce back from an 8-16 season in 2011, falling in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Natallia Pintusava played No. 1 singles for much of the 2011 season and was an All-Big Ten second team selection. Freshman Julia Courter has stepped into the top half of the singles lineup early this spring. The Gophers hold a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with UW.
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: The Huskies head back to Seattle to begin a seven-match homestand with their home opener on Feb. 10 against 49th-ranked Sacramento State. That match was rescheduled after the Jan. 21 season-opener was postponed due to snow. First serve between the Huskies and Hornets will be at 2 p.m.
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).