Based on the latest rankings, junior Venise Chan has defeated seven of the Top-10 players in the NCAA over the past two years.
March 17, 2010
The Husky women's tennis team is currently sitting 20th in the national rankings with a 9-2 record and some major opportunities awaiting them when Pac-10 play resumes at USC on March 26. NCAA Championship action is quickly approaching, and leading the team to that goal once again is Venise Chan, now midway through her junior season.
The Hong Kong native is ranked 15th in singles and has been as high as 11th this year. Her fall season included a semifinal appearance at the ITA All-American Championships and a quarterfinal run at the ITA National Indoor Championships. One incredible note on the All-Pac-10 First Teamer is that Chan has defeated every one of the women ranked second through eighth either this season or last season based on the most recent rankings.
Chan updates Husky fans on the team's preparation for the trip to USC and UCLA, the season thus far, and how she has learned to be a little more peaceful on the court.
GoHuskies.com: So you're ranked 15th right now, you made the quarterfinals of both major fall tournaments, how would you rate your season so far?
Venise Chan: It's been a little up and down. I would obviously not give myself an A. B-something maybe. There were two matches I could have won easily but then I kind of was nervous and I wasn't playing well. My confidence wasn't there. But overall I think it's been okay.
GH: You seemed to hit a little shaky spot several weeks ago against Portland and San Diego State but haven't lost a set since. What helped get you going?
VC: I tried to focus more on one point, because I was always thinking about the future and the next point. I'm trying to stay in the present and just hit the ball.
GH: Now you beat the top players for Arizona and Arizona State in straight sets, so how do you think you're playing right now?
VC: I think I gained my confidence back, so I hope I can continue winning. Playing Arizona State without Denise (Dy), I felt more responsible so I was concentrating more to help the team and get a point. I think I play well outdoors so hopefully that will help a little when we play against USC and UCLA.
GH: This year you guys couldn't sneak up on any teams after making the Sweet-16 last year. How do you think you guys adjusted to being the hunted?
VC: Teams obviously know how we play now because we are the same team. We might feel pressure because they're trying to get the upset and we're trying not to let them. Jill (Hultquist) thinks we probably could have responded better. But teams approach us differently and fight for it because they know we're a challenge. We definitely need to work harder than last year because other teams are targeting us and they will fight. We should not only maintain but try and go to a higher level of tennis to beat them. Our scores have been close and we can't stay at this level if we want to move up.
GH: The team is about halfway done with a lengthy break now before the trip to Los Angeles. Did you guys get a chance to rest up and are things picking back up now?
VC: Some people we know they have finals and they don't have enough sleep, and they're trying to get back to practicing mode. For me I was done Saturday so I kind of relaxed and got some practice and yesterday we got to practice outdoors and everyone's practicing hard now.
GH: USC and UCLA are up next, and USC especially probably circled that match after you upset them last year in NCAAs. What are you expecting on that trip?
VC: I think we're expecting to have really tough matches. USC probably wants revenge after last year. Both number one girls [USC's Maria Sanchez and UCLA's Yasmin Schnack] have been getting better. Hopefully Denise can play and be at full strength; that would help the team a lot. I think we definitely can win.
GH: Both Sanchez and Schnack are ranked in the Top-10 right now, but you beat both of them last year. Knowing that they have both probably improved since a year ago, do you have to try and erase your wins over them from your memory or do you take something from it?
VC: Yeah, it's different each year but I actually do try and think of how did I beat them. It gives me confidence when I step on the court. I'm sure they are thinking, `let's see what happens this time,' and they might not have as much pressure because I beat them and the pressure might be on me. But then I'm fine, I just try my best. As long as I don't think too much I'll be fine.
GH: Do you think you've improved in certain ways this year compared to this time last year?
VC: I think I try to listen to the coaches more (laughs). They kind of think that I like to argue with them a lot. I try to do the things I should be doing. I just hope to be better each year. Many players as a senior they go down (in the rankings). I feel like I know more how players like to play, and each year I get more used to college tennis and how it works, but I know their game as much as they know mine, so it's something that can be good or bad.
I think my mentality is also different. For example, I think last year I really wanted to win in the NCAAs (but was upset in the first round). I still want to win but I don't want to think too much about it. And this year I have Denise pushing me, and it's good to have someone push you, it motivates me more. I think in the beginning of the season I motivated her at the All-American (Championships).
GH: Off the court, you've been on the Pac-10 All-Academic First Team, so how is school going for you this year?
VC: Right now I'm a Business major, marketing and entrepreneur. I think my studies are going fine. Right now I try to take as many classes as possible, so senior year I can relax.
GH: Any plans yet to play professionally or go to graduate school?
VC: I think it depends how I play. If I play well I was going to play a few years for Hong Kong. But we'll see how I do.