Women’s tennis falls in Pac-12 quarterfinals

The team huddles by the net
The women’s tennis squad now awaits their NCAA tournament seeding on May 3. (Andrew Kerner | Daily Trojan)

Women’s tennis lost to Arizona State in the quarterfinals Friday, knocking them out of contention for the Pac-12 Championship. USC fell 4-3 in a close match in spite of winning the doubles point.

The Trojans were able to avoid a first-round of play with a No. 5 overall seeding, one place behind the Sun Devils, setting up this quarterfinal match between a team USC had defeated a few weeks prior.

However, despite the victory USC pulled off last time by playing extremely dominant singles after dropping the doubles point, the team wasn’t able to keep pace in the later stages of their most recent meeting with the Sun Devils.

Redshirt senior Summer Dvorak and junior Danielle Wilson swept away the Arizona doubles pair opponent in a 6-1 victory. Their win was echoed by a second 6-1 doubles win from sophomore Eryn Cayetano and redshirt senior Anglea Kulikov cementing the doubles point for USC.

USC’s dominant doubles point win took all of the highlights from their first-time meeting with ASU. Dvorak, while playing with a different partner during the match with the Sun Devils on April 3, was able to etch out the first doubles win both times. Cayetano and Kulikov’s win was a reversal of a loss to that same pair in Tempe, Ariz. USC was able to avoid a tie break by a long shot during championship play, which handed them their doubles point loss the first time around.  

Doubles point in hand, USC had some serious cushion, but it didn’t last long.

In a stark reversal of their last meeting with ASU, USC lost five of the six opening sets in singles play. This was notably the Trojans turning point in the previous meeting with ASU, when they did the same thing to the Sun Devils in Tempe.

The first loss, and point to the Sun Devils came when freshman Naomi Cheong retired following a first set loss.

Despite being the eventual winners, ASU was first to come within a point of the match when a win over USC’s top singles player, junior Salma Ewing, let the Sun Devils get a 3-2 lead. Ewing lost in straight sets, although showing some resiliency in the eventual 6-4, 6-3 loss, battling to 3-4 in the second while being down 1-4.

It took USC three match points to get in clinching position. Cayetano, the only player to push their match to three sets, dropped the first set but won on her third match point.

USC’s comeback ended in an exchange of breaks that favored the Sun Devils in the final match of the day between Dvorak and ASU freshman Marianna Argyrokastriti. Dvorak lost in a first set tiebreak before falling 7-6, 6-4 to send ASU on to the semifinals.

ASU’s win was a combination of perseverance and USC being unable to capitalize on opportunity or hold serve.

In Dvorak’s singles loss, she was able to defend two match points on return. However, when back on serve, at 4-5 and up 40-15, she wasn’t able to close the game, letting Argyrokastriti win the match on a deuce point return.

Ewing’s match fell on her racket as well, giving Ilze Hattingh three match points while down 3-5. Ewing lost on the first one.

While USC’s hopes for the Pac-12 Championship have ended, they now await the NCAA Selection Show on May 3 for a chance to compete for the national title.