Women’s tennis approaches last fall tournament before their winter break

Junior Eryn Cayetano strikes the ball while leaping.
Junior Eryn Cayetano earned a semifinal birth in the ITA All-American Championships Oct. 4-10. (Andrew Kerner | Daily Trojan)

Women’s tennis returns to action this weekend with three simultaneous tournaments, headlined by the ITA Fall National Championships, where No. 18 senior Salma Ewing, No. 56 junior Eryn Cayetano and redshirt freshman Snow Han will compete.

The Fall National Championships will take place at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. The tournament is the last of the fall collegiate tennis season and will focus on individual tournaments as opposed to school-versus-school dual matches. The 32 singles players and 32 doubles pairs compete in men’s and women’s brackets. Elsewhere, Trojans will compete at the Jack Kramer Invitational in Rolling Hills, Calif. and the Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. at Arizona State University. 

“One of my priorities was to have everyone on our team competing regularly this fall and in particular, to finish up fall season,” Head Coach Alison Swain wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan. “It should be a fun and exciting weekend with so many of our team competing. Our team is really focused and united right now.”

Ewing, Cayetano and Han all enter the Championships off the back of strong results. Most recently, Han reached the semifinal of the ITA Southwest Regional tournament, where she won her first four matches by a combined score of 49 games to her opponents’ 13 before defeating the No. 44 and No. 9 ranked opponents in the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals. Han also earned Co-Champion honors on the singles side at USC’s Women of Troy tournament hosted in October. Ewing reached the quarterfinals at the Southwest Regional as well, only falling in a close-fought three-setter against San Diego No. 30 ranked redshirt junior Solymar Colling 6-4, 4-6, 1-6.

“The players know exactly what they each need to work on,” Swain wrote. “At the same time, they are enjoying being out on court together — so the atmosphere has been focused but also very enthusiastic at practices.”

Cayetano only competed on the doubles side at the Southwest Regional, but turned heads with a semifinal berth at the ITA All-American Championships. En route to the final four, Cayetano won in straight sets 6-0, 6-3 against the tournament’s 2nd seed, No. 3 sophomore Janice Tjen of Pepperdine. Cayetano also won the singles championship and her doubles flight with Grace Piper, her freshman partner, at the Fall Ranked Spotlight. On the singles side, she upset the nation’s No. 23 and No. 16 players, NC State senior Alana Smith and Miami sophomore Isabella Pfennig, respectively. 

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Cayetano said that “doing pretty [well] in the fall has given [her] the confidence for this season and the spring,” following her strong results across multiple tournaments.

Cayetano describes herself as “the most physical tennis player on the court” against any opponent, “someone who has the most grit and … is just willing to put everything on the line and do whatever it takes to win.” 

USC will return to action late January, with the indoor season and a series of non-conference matches before Pac-12 play opens on Feb. 25 against UCLA. 

“Team goals are first and foremost driven by our players,” Swain wrote. “At the same time, I want to see improvement from the [last] two weeks and take each match one at a time and still be competing deep into the weekend.”