USC prepares for mountain road trip

Senior Salma Ewing hits a back hand during USC’s match against St. Mary’s Jan. 23.
Senior Salma Ewing hits a back hand during USC’s match against St. Mary’s Jan. 23. Ewing is No. 36 in the ITA singles ranking. (Simon Park | Daily Trojan)

No. 21 women’s tennis will look to get back on the win column this weekend as they travel for a match against Utah Friday afternoon, followed by Colorado Sunday morning. 

The Trojans come off consecutive losses last weekend against crosstown rival UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Overall, the team has a 6-6 record on the season and is currently on a five-match losing streak with only one win in February. 

ITA’s most recent rankings saw USC fall nine spots down to No. 21 due to the recent stretch of losses. 

Team captain and senior Danielle Willson highlighted the team’s mentality going into the two-match trip. 

“It’s easy to have a negative mindset especially, after a losing streak,” Willson said. “Right now, we’re taking these losses just trying to make us stronger and as fuel in the fire.”

The Trojans got off to a sluggish start against the Bruins. The duo of senior Salma Ewing and redshirt freshman Snow Han lost to freshman Ava Catanzarite and junior Abbey Forbes. USC ultimately lost the doubles point.  

The team never got on track heading into the singles matches, as the only point scored by the Trojans would come from Han’s victory over junior Sasha Vagramov. 

Slow starts have become a common theme for USC during its five-match skid. It has surrendered the doubles point in each of its losses.

“As a team, we really want that doubles point, and we’ve been working really hard in practice to try and keep improving,” Willson said. “We know we’re all capable of winning those doubles points.” 

Although they suffered defeat in their match against the Gauchos last Saturday, the Trojans showed a valiant effort in the 4-3 loss. Going into the singles matches down the doubles point, Han and Ewing won their respective matchups to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Gauchos. 

However, UCSB sealed the match point after freshman Amelia Honer defeated freshman Sloane Morra. Sophomore Eryn Cayetano defeated Gaucho senior Shakhnoza Khatamova to ultimately make the final score 4-3. 

Willson said she believes the team took something out of this close loss and hopes it can build off the momentum. 

“It’s always important even if you lose to name one positive thing that happened,” Willson said. “Even the resiliency of [Cayetano] getting that win showed leadership and the importance of being resilient no matter what position you’re in.” 

Although the latter half of February was a rough stretch for the Trojans, there have been bright spots for the team. 

Han and Ewing are currently 9-5 and sit at No. 19 on ITA’s recent doubles rankings. They are also performing well individually, with Han currently holding a 21-7 record and ranked No. 56 on ITA’s singles. Ewing is having a solid season, with a 12-9 overall record and No. 36 ranking. 

This week, USC will play a Utah team that has been on a tear. The Utes are currently 11-1 and shut out their last two opponents. Their only loss this season was a close 4-3 defeat against Denver. 

“Our mindset is treating each team like they are any other team,” Willson said. “It can be the number one team in the nation … Everyone is beatable out there.”

The Trojans will then travel to Boulder, Colo. to match up with the Buffaloes who currently ride a four-match win streak.  

USC will look to get back to its winning ways that saw them win its first five matches back in January. 

The team is set to square off against the Utes in Salt Lake City at 12:30 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. against Colorado Sunday.