Home Opener Take Two For Huskies Versus Hornets
Feb. 8, 2012
FRIDAY, FEB. 10 NORDSTROM TENNIS CENTER
THIS WEEK: The Husky women's tennis team takes a second shot at its home opener this Friday, with Sacramento State looking to have a much clearer path to Seattle than last month, when local snow canceled flights for the Hornets and postponed the match. Now both teams know a little more about themselves, but the match will be all the more important as the 28th-ranked Huskies (3-1) look to begin a good run at home, while 49th-ranked Sacramento State (1-2) will be hungry for an upset of a top-30 team. Washington will now spend the rest of its non-conference schedule at home. This will be the long-awaited first home appearance for the four Husky freshmen, Natali Coronel, Capucine Gregoire, Julija Lukac, and Riko Shimizu, all of who have already earned dual singles wins this season. First serve Friday is set for 2 p.m.
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 eb. 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: The Huskies headed to Minneapolis for two key early season matches at the University of Minnesota, starting with a neutral site match with 50th-ranked William & Mary. Against the Tribe, the Huskies fell behind after doubles, but singles wins from seniors Denise Dy and Samantha Smith at the top two singles spots got the Huskies even at 2-2. Sophomore Andjela Nemcevic and freshman Capucine Gregoire then got the Huskies over the finish line with three set wins. Nemcevic topped Maria Belaya, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 at third singles, and Gregoire got her first dual win with a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 win over Hope Johnson at No. 4. Dy did not lose a single game in her No. 1 singles win over Jeltje Loomans. On Sunday, against the Golden Gophers, UW got the early lead with a doubles point sweep. Dy stormed to another lopsided win, 6-1, 6-0 over Natallia Pintusava, and Nemcevic earned a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Yuliana Umanets at third singles for a 3-0 lead. Clinching for the first time was freshman Riko Shimizu, in her dual singles debut, as she handled Doron Muravnik, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 6 singles. Gregoire also supplied another win, 6-1, 7-6, over Julia Courter at fourth singles to make the final score 5-2 for the Dawgs.
SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE: The Hornets are 1-2 after falling to USC and Texas Tech in ITA National Team Indoor Qualifying, then earning a 4-3 win over Fresno State in their last match. Sacramento State has made 10 straight NCAA tournaments, losing in the first round of the tourney last year to finish 19-9. The Hornets have a veteran lineup with three returning senior starters. Tatsiana Kapshai and Rebeca Delgado made the doubles final of the ITA Northwest Regional Championships in the fall and with that effort they have jumped to 38th in the doubles rankings. Kapshai made the NCAA Singles Championships last year and advanced to the second round, finishing the year ranked No. 107. Washington has won the last two meetings with the Hornets by 4-3 counts, and last year UW pulled out the win on Senior Day by taking doubles plus the top three singles matches, with Samantha Smith clinching with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Maria Meliuk at third singles. UW now has a 7-4 series edge.
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's homestand continues with a dual against Portland on Saturday, Feb. 18, followed by a crucial meeting against 30th-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday, Feb. 19. Both matches kick off at 11 a.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).