Pac-12 Play Begins With Huskies Hosting Stanford
Feb. 29, 2012
SUNDAY, MAR. 4 NORDSTROM TENNIS CENTER
THIS WEEK: A number of competitive non-conference matches behind them, the young Husky women's tennis team now heads into Pac-12 play for the rest of the season carrying a 6-3 record and No. 28 national ranking. There does not seem to be much room for debate this season that the Pac-12 is the top league in the nation, and conference play opens with the powerhouse Stanford Cardinal, last year's conference champions and NCAA runners-up. That Stanford is currently ranked 11th is basically a technicality based on the current computer rankings formula and the fact that Stanford skipped the national indoor tourney. Just last week Stanford was the top-ranked team in the country in coaches voting and the Cardinal are undefeated at 5-0. The Huskies will look to pull the upset on Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m. at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.
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 Feb. 28, with the Huskies back at 27th in the new poll. The only UW individual currently ranked is senior All-American 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, then fell to 18th before the new computerized rankings on Feb. 28 bumped her back up to No. 14. Dy ended the 2011 spring season ranked eighth nationally, the second-best year-end ranking in school history. She has been ranked in the top-20 in every poll since 2010, her sophomore year, when she jumped from the fifties to No. 3 after a fantastic 2009 fall campaign.
SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal went from No. 1 in the ITA rankings last week down to No. 11 when the computer formula kicked in this week, but that is no real indication of Stanford's level. The Cardinal did not play in ITA National Team Indoors and therefore do not have as many ranked matches as other teams, but Stanford is undefeated and beat defending NCAA Champion Florida already this season. Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs are side-by-side in the ITA singles rankings at Nos. 7 and 8. Stacey Tan is an NCAA Singles Finalist and she ranks 40th, while freshman Ellen Tsay is 53rd. Stanford also has sophomore Kristie Ahn, currently unranked but who won the Pac-10 Singles title last year. Gibbs and Burdette are also the nation's top-ranked doubles team. Washington lost 5-2 at Stanford last season, with Denise Dy and Venise Chan pulling out victories at the top two singles spots. The Huskies are still looking for that first win over the Cardinal as they are 0-22 all-time.
LAST TIME OUT: UW continued its homestand against San Diego State and St. Mary's last weekend in the Nordstrom Tennis Center. On Friday, the Dawgs dug out a 4-3 win against the Aztecs. The Huskies swept doubles and then took three of the six singles matches. Andjela Nemcevic clinched the victory with a comeback win at No. 2 singles. She lost the first set, 4-6, and went down 1-3 in the second set before rallying for a 6-4 second set win, and rolled to a 6-0 third set win over Emma Cioffi. Denise Dy beat 117th-ranked Julia Wais, 7-5, 6-2, and freshman Capucine Gregoire was a 6-2, 6-2 winner at No. 4 singles over Sierra Ellison. Sunday against 34th-ranked St. Mary's, Washington dropped the doubles point, but came back strong in singles and had a chance to put away the Gaels on several courts, but failed to get the final games needed to close out the win. Dy cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win over 103rd-ranked Catherine Isip at No. 1 singles to get the Huskies on the board. Gregoire twice served for her match in the second set, but dropped the set in a tiebreak and wound up falling 5-7, 7-6, 6-0 to Anna Chkhikvishvili, snapping a six-match win streak. Freshman Riko Shimizu had a similar lead, up 7-6, 5-3 at fifth singles, but she couldn't close out and lost 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 to Catherine Leduc. Freshman Julija Lukac also gave away a second set lead and was forced to go three sets, but she fought back for a 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 win over Carla Lindlar at No. 6 singles for UW's only other point.
NO DY-NYING DENISE: One of the greatest Huskies in history, the incredible career of Denise Dy is in its final act, but the senior from San Jose is still piling up the wins and looking to leave the program with a flourish. The only Husky to reach three national semifinals (the 2009 ITA National Indoors, the 2010 ITA All-Americans, and the 2011 ITA National Indoors), Dy has been a force in tournament play, but has been even greater in dual match play with a team point on her racquet. Dy has a career dual match record in singles of 60-13, and since the start of her sophomore year it is an even more incredible 41-5, a winning percentage of .891. An All-Pac-10 First Team selection last year, Dy continues to draw near the 100 win plateau for singles, currently owning 96 victories. She would be the fourth Husky to join that club, along with Kristina Kraszewski (111), former doubles partner Venise Chan (101), and Dea Sumantri (100). She has made both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships each of the past two years, earning a top-16 seed in singles both times, and advancing to the doubles quarterfinals last year with Chan, matching the best finish ever by a Husky duo. Her 77 career doubles wins rank fourth all-time. Dy is looking to earn ITA All-America honors for the third year in a row. She picked up a singles All-America honor in 2010, and singles and doubles honors in 2011. Dy has been a fixture in the Top-12 of the national singles rankings for the past three years, with a career-best of No. 3 during her sophomore year, and highs of No. 4 as a junior and a senior.
UP NEXT: Stanford's Bay Area counterpart comes to town, but not until March 16 as the Huskies have next week off. Washington hosts California on that Friday at 1:30 p.m., which wraps up a seven-match homestand and sends UW to Arizona and Los Angeles in the following weeks.
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).