Seniors Ardies And Malovic Set The Standard
April 8, 2010
By Michael Jeremiah
From opposite sides of the globe, four-year senior starters Joyce Ardies and Aleksandra Malovic have played many matches just a few feet apart over the past several years. Head coach Jill Hultquist's first two recruits, the pair were instrumental in helping the Huskies back to national prominence. Ardies and Malovic will play the two last home matches of their careers when the Huskies play host to California and Stanford this weekend.
The year before the seniors arrived at Washington, the team only won three matches, beset by injuries that often resulted in only five players in the lineup and a loss of a point. Their freshman season the two helped provide some glimmers of hope, as Malovic's late addition to the lineup helped spur wins over Oregon and Washington State to close the season. The next season, UW was back with a winning record and back in the NCAA tourney, and last season the Huskies marched all the way to the Sweet-16.
Still, Ardies tries to pass the credit, saying the turnaround really started with the arrival of Venise Chan and continued when everyone bought into the hard work it took to be a successful tennis program. But a large part of the program's stability and success can be traced back to the arrival of Ardies and Malovic.
Malovic came to the UW from Apeldoorn, a city sixty miles south of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, but her arrival in Seattle was a bit delayed. In fact, school was already underway for Malovic in the Netherlands when she finally made up her mind to take a chance at college plus tennis in the United States.
"I started studying in September in Amsterdam," said Malovic. "But then, because you can't combine (sports and school) at home, I started to feel like I really did miss tennis all of a sudden. I went on a bike ride and decided I was just going to do it. I just had a feeling inside."
She was unable to play for most of her freshman year due to ineligibility and a late arrival on campus. When she got back on the court, it was during one of the Huskies' hardest season in years due to injuries and a prolonged recovery from losing numerous players from their Elite Eight run in 2004.
Despite a rough patch at the beginning, Malovic was happy with her decision to come to Washington. The weather in Seattle is similar to the Netherlands, and although California schools showed interest, Malovic didn't return the favor.
"I'm very happy I didn't go to California," said Malovic. "I really like it up here."
In the classroom, Malovic is double majoring in Sociology and Communications. She'll finish her degree in the fall. On the court, Malovic has played an integral role in many of UW's biggest wins. She had to accept playing lower down in the singles lineup after the Huskies landed big recruits Venise Chan and Denise Dy in subsequent years. After going 16-23 in singles her first two years, Malovic improved along with the team last season, posting a 24-13 mark. This year she's third on the team in singles wins with 15.
Ardies travelled an indirect road to Washington, starting in Sao Paolo, Brazil. She enrolled at Tulane University as freshman before the Green Wave tennis program was disbanded due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Picking another school wasn't the plan but, when the time came to visit prospective new schools, Washington stood above the rest.
The mix of academics and potential to rebuild the Huskies into a national power again was too much to resist. Ardies wanted to study International Business, which is one of the many strengths of the Foster Business School.
"When I saw Seattle, I was like, that's the place I want to be," said Ardies. "When I came for my trip it was two beautiful sunny days. Jill took me to the Space Needle and we had a picnic on the grass. Seeing the water and the landscape, we don't have any of that in Brazil. It's a beautiful place."
Ardies' label of senior is only true in the sense of eligibility. In fact, she finished her International Business studies already and has moved on to be a part of Washington's Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership program. Ardies studied extensively in the summer, and now takes online correspondence classes, along with working twenty hours a week and training with the team.
By June, Ardies will have a Master's of Education. She already has a new appreciation of what it takes to make a team run from her time interning for Washington's olympic sports programs in the Graves Annex, where most Husky coaches have their offices.
"It's interesting to see how many people work so hard in administration to make things happen for us," said Ardies. "I've appreciated their work and how hard they work behind the scenes."
With four years of high level college tennis experience, Ardies hopes to break into coaching before eventually moving over to administration. She can't get ahead of herself too much though, because there is still work to be done this season.
With one more win in singles, Ardies will become the sixth Husky woman to rank in the Top-10 in career singles and doubles wins. Ardies has been a constant starter in singles and in fact had the ninth-most singles wins for one year in school history in 2009 with 27, but her greatest skills are in doubles. Ardies teams with junior Denise Dy at number one doubles. The two reached a new career high-point in the rankings at No. 6 a few weeks back. The two are 18-5 on the season and on track for their first career NCAA Doubles Championship appearance.
Dy missed a couple weeks of practice time with a foot injury but has come back in fine form. Doubles involves a lot of rhythm, however, and there's was thrown off a bit. While the break wasn't ideal, Ardies is confident in their ability to rebound for a strong finish.
"It was tough because we couldn't practice together, but we are back on our games now," said Ardies. "We bond together a lot because she's my roommate. I know what she's been through and I'm trying to help in the process. She's a stud."
No matter what the outcome of the season, Washington tennis loses two players that enjoyed great careers as Huskies. The hard times that came early in their careers are memories that helped bring them closer.
"I can't imagine going to any other university," said Ardies. "If I had to play anywhere else it would be so hard because of the connections to the University, the Huskies, and the purple."
Said Malovic, "Being here and being a Husky, it's great to be part of the Husky family. I feel the University of Washington is not as well-known over the country, and definitely undervalued a lot. Being a Husky you're proud of the excellence in everything: academics, athletics, just the way they do things, it's trying be as close to excellence as you can get."