Women’s tennis begins season

Senior Rianna Valdes comes into the 2018-19 season as the only senior on the team’s roster. (Sunny Dong | Daily Trojan)

The women’s tennis team opens its 2018-19 season this weekend with the ITA Oracle Masters in Malibu and the Battle in the Bay Classic in San Francisco. After falling to Arizona State in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, Gabby Smith went on to compete in the NCAA tournament as a senior last year. Three of USC’s players are already starting the season with their names in national preseason rankings.

California native Salma Ewing is making her debut as the No. 5 freshman in the nation. She’s expected to contribute right off the bat, and will have her first chance this weekend in the mixed doubles section of the ITA Oracle Masters, along with men’s tennis sophomore and Israeli native Daniel Cukierman. They will compete Thursday morning at 8 a.m., followed by her appearance in the women singles draw at 10 a.m.

The Women of Troy’s only returning senior, Rianna Valdes, took the No. 74 spot in the national rankings. She made Pac-12 All-Academic second team last season and All Pac-12 honorable mention. Junior Angela Kulikov, a 2018 Pac-12 All-Academic first team member, and Valdes will compete as partners again this season and enter as No. 27 in the doubles ranking. The Trojans added freshman Estella Jaeger, who hails from Germany, to their roster. Freshman Danielle Wilson will also join this rookie squad.

USC will be entering its second season under head coach Alison Swain, who won eight NCAA Division III championship titles at Williams College, and she looks to guide the Trojans to a long run in the tournament this season.

Junior Constance Branstine, sophomore Ana Neffa and freshman Danielle Willson will compete in San Francisco beginning Friday.