Trojans have standouts in ITA Southwest Regional

Senior Salma Ewing swings at a serve.
Senior Salma Ewing reached the quarterfinals of the ITA Southwest Regional tournament Oct. 21-25. (Andrew Kerner | Daily Trojan)

Following strong performances in both the Women of Troy Invitational and the ITA All-American Championships at the beginning of October, redshirt freshman Snow Han headlined another tournament for women’s tennis at the ITA Southwest Regional in San Diego. Han defeated the nation’s No. 9 ranked player, San Diego State senior Bunyawi Thamchaiwat, in a comeback victory by a score of 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. 

Han entered the Southwest Regional with a tournament win already under her belt, having captured the Women of Troy Invitational singles championship two weekends prior. She shared the title with UC Santa Barbara sophomore Camille Kiss, who also went undefeated in singles. Han did not drop a set until her Southwest Regional quarterfinal showdown with Thamchaiwat, winning her first four matches by a cumulative score of 49 games to an opponent’s total of 13. Among those four opponents was the nation’s No. 44 overall player, Pepperdine sophomore Taisiya Pachkaleva. Han eventually fell to No. 53 junior Lisa Zaar of Pepperdine in the semifinals. 

Reflecting on her performance in an interview with the Daily Trojan, Han said that “playing [her] game and being patient” helped her be successful in the tournament. She noted that Thamchaiwat “is a pretty aggressive player” and that in order to comeback from a challenging first set, Han changed the momentum by “trying to keep up with her and play more rallies and [Thamchaiwat] started [to make] mistakes.”

No. 18 senior Salma Ewing had a notable outing as well. Ewing progressed to the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships in Charleston, S.C. two weeks prior. In Charleston, Ewing defeated the nation’s No. 25 and No. 23 overall players, Duke senior Kelly Chen and NC State senior Alana Smith, both in straight sets, making USC the only school with two quarterfinalists after junior Eryn Cayetano’s run to the semifinal. After a bye in the Round of 128 of the Southwest Regional, Ewing defeated Hawaii senior Gitte Heynemans in the Round of 64 and LMU graduate student Eva Marie Voracek 7-5, 6-1 in the Round of 32. She secured her berth in the quarterfinals with another two-set victory, this time over Pepperdine graduate student Shiori Fukuda with a 6-3, 7-6 score.

Freshmen Grace Piper, Leyden Games and Sloane Morra as well as redshirt freshman McKenna Koenig all progressed to the Round of 64 to round out the tournament individually for the Trojans. Morra won in a 7-5, 6-0 match against UC Irvine junior Jenna Schlatter in the Round of 64 before suffering a 1-6, 0-6 loss to Pepperdine’s Fukuda.

The team also had two pairs reach the quarterfinals in the doubles draw. Ewing and Han and Cayetano and Piper defeated doubles teams from Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge, respectively. En route to the quarters, Cayetano and Piper also faced UCLA freshman Kimmi Hance and senior Taylor Johnson, winning the one-set match 6-1. Both of the USC doubles teams exited the doubles bracket in close-fought matches, with Pepperdine’s Zaar and graduate student Victoria Flores topping Ewing and Han in a 6-4 match, while Cayetano and Piper took the LMU pair senior Wiktoria Rutkowska and junior Isabella Tcherkes-Zade to a 7-5 result. 

“I am excited about some of the improvements players on our team showed from the start of season,” wrote Head Coach Alison Swain in an email to the Daily Trojan. “In particular, I think our doubles is headed in a strong direction with our new players becoming more familiar with our system and college-level doubles.” 

The Trojans will be in action next with a trio of tournaments from Nov. 4-7:  ITA National Fall Championships, the Jack Kramer Invitational and the Thunderbird Invitational. Swain emphasized a strong team atmosphere in San Diego.

“The team went into this tournament with a goal of showing unity and support throughout the event even though it is an individual tournament,” Swain wrote. “Not only was that noticeable to our players when they were competing, but I think other teams noticed our unity as well.”