Venise Chan, Denise Dy lead revival of Washington women's tennis program
Washington won only three women's tennis matches in 2006 but now is ranked 25th in the nation, thanks largely to two talented players, Denise Dy and Venise Chan.
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Everything you need to know about Washington women's tennis players Denise Dy and Venise Chan played out on the courts of Bill Quillian Stadium during a match against Arizona about a month ago.
It was early in Dy's No. 2 singles match, and the sophomore was hurting. Badly. She'd just tweaked her ankle in a first set that she already trailed 4-0, and could barely walk back to the bench for assistance.
So her teammate and good friend Chan, who was still playing her match at No. 1 singles, did the best she could to help.
"I was playing my match, and suddenly I saw Denise is injured, so I thought, 'I have to get this point for my team, because what happens if she can't continue?' " Chan said. "So I quickly ended my match in two sets."
No big deal, right? Dy wouldn't quit, either, knowing the Huskies hadn't secured the fourth point necessary to claim the match. After tanking the first set to conserve energy, she somehow hobbled to wins in the next two sets to take the match and the point, and the Huskies walked away with a 5-2 team victory.
But even that minor miracle pales in comparison to what Dy and Chan, a junior, have done for the UW women's tennis program, taking a team that won three times in 2006 and turning it into the No. 25 squad in the nation.
Both players have been ranked in the top 20 throughout the dual season, Dy checking in at No. 4, Chan at No. 17 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's most recent rankings. It's the first time the Huskies have had anyone in the top 20 since 2005, the year before coach Jill Hultquist inherited a program that went 3-17 in her first season.
This week, Dy and Chan lead the Huskies in their final home matches of the season, Friday against No. 11 Stanford and Saturday against No. 12 California. Both matches start at noon.
Hultquist doesn't bother understating the duo's importance to the revival of her program.
"We're getting more interest from some of the top players," Hultquist said, "and it's a lot easier to recruit when you can say you're in the top 20, 'We've got No. 4, we've got No. 17.' "
But Hultquist didn't have that pitch as an option when she was recruiting Dy and Chan, who have personalities as different as their backgrounds. Dy is a brash, outgoing kid from San Jose, Calif., who fell off the recruiting radar while playing in the Philippines as a teenager, started looking for colleges late and might have gone to California had the Bears not offered their last scholarship to another player.
Chan is as shy as they come, a business major from Hong Kong whose goals for this season include being named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team.
"I don't even think Venise knows how she ended up here," Hultquist said with a laugh.
It's simpler than some may think. Chan, who has beaten half of the players ranked in the top 20 this season, signed without taking a visit, lured by the chance to compete right away at a school with a solid academic reputation.
"I thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun if I could play at the top of the lineup and be the person who could help out the team?' " Chan said. "Instead of going to another school and playing No. 6 or 7, where it's not going to be as challenging and as fun for me."
And so the Huskies have one of the best one-two combos in the country, something that became apparent during one of the more impressive fall seasons the UW women's tennis program has seen.
Dy might have made the biggest statement by taking the ITA Northwest Regional Championship title in October, and both she and Chan earned spots in the ITA National Indoor Championships.
Call it momentum carrying over from last spring, when the Huskies upset Pac-10 champion USC to earn a spot in the Sweet 16.
That's when everyone started taking notice. Washington assistant coach Damon Coupe recalls a loss to Arkansas this season, and what Razorbacks coach Michael Hegarty had to say to him afterward.
"I don't ever want to see you guys again," Hegarty told him.
That's fine with Coupe.
"That's how we want to be known — that team that you better bring your A game when you play us, or we're going to beat you," he said.
And if that means Dy has to do it on one leg, or Chan in just two sets, so be it.
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