Despite the pandemic disrupting many collegiate athletics and activities, the prestigious Oracle Intercollegiate Tennis Association Masters hosted its 2020 tournament in a singles-only format last weekend at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. Schools all over the nation participated in this year’s tournament, including Wake Forest, UCLA and Pepperdine in addition to some professional athletes. Over the course of the tournament, former and current Trojans dominated the competition, convincingly winning both the men’s and women’s titles.
On the women’s side, Trojan sophomore Eryn Cayetano and her teammate redshirt senior Angela Kulikov defeated their respective opponents to square off against each other for an all-USC final. The duo, who make up one of USC’s best doubles teams, competed in a long, arduous match on Sunday with Cayetano prevailing in a tiebreaker, 3-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10).
“It felt special to win the first major tournament I’ve played in since beginning competition again,” Cayetano said after the final. “Plus, it was really special to compete against one of my idols, my teammate Angela. During the match, it was hard to separate the emotions of how I was feeling competing against her. ”
Throughout the pandemic, Cayetano demonstrated her volunteerism and compassion toward the Filipino community by donating tennis racquets and other goods to those facing difficulty in her family’s home country in the Philippines.
“When the trophy ceremony happened, I was so grateful to represent USC and the Filipino community,” Cayetano said.
Likewise, head coach Alison Swain had high praise for Cayetano and Kulikov’s outstanding run in spite of the tough competition.
“Eryn’s path to the title was definitely a challenging one playing some of the top college players and pros en route to the championship,” Swain said. “[Cayetano] and Angela are outstanding examples of Trojan values on and off the court. They both displayed the great competitors they are, but also their integrity, sportsmanship and professionalism during this event.”
Many current and former Trojans took part on the men’s side. Alumni Brandon Holt, Logan Smith and Raymond Sarmiento as well as juniors Bradley Frye and Jake Sands all competed, but it was Holt who reigned supreme.
Holt, who previously won the singles tournament as a sophomore in 2017, faced tough opponents in his quest for the title including former Trojan teammate Frye in the quarterfinal, where he triumphed 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-3).
In the finals match, Holt faced 2020 ITA All-American and Rookie of the Year sophomore Cannon Kingsley from Ohio State. Holt easily won, 6-3, 6-1.
Along with Frye, who made the quarterfinal, other Trojans were able to go far in the tournament as both Sarmiento and Sands made the round of 16 and Smith reached the quarterfinal through the back draw.
Despite the hurdles 2020 has thrown the Trojan tennis teams through the canceled spring season and uncertain restart for the fall, the players, coaches and staff still managed to climb to the podium at one of the most important competitions of the season.