Women’s tennis extends win streak to six games

Freshman Leyden Games eyes the ball during USC’s 4-0 victory against Cal State Northridge. Games won her lone singles match against Cal State Poly Sunday, the second match of the day for the Trojans, who beat Oregon 4-0 in an earlier matchup. The 4-0 sweep was USC’s third sweep in a row. (Louis Chen | Daily Trojan)

Coming off two shutout wins last week, No. 18 USC women’s tennis continued its strong play at Marks Stadium and collected two more wins in Sunday’s doubleheader against
No. 32 Oregon and No. 72 Cal Poly. 

The Trojans have kept their foot on the pedal during this homestand and have now won six in a row to improve their overall record to 16-10. Redshirt freshman McKenna Koenig said the team remains a tight-knit group during the win streak.

“It goes beyond tennis itself,” said Koenig in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “We spend a lot of time with each other. We have really good relationships with each other, and I think that’s what sets us apart from other schools and teams.” 

USC first kicked things off against Oregon Sunday morning. Although the Ducks came into the match after a loss against UCLA, the team was on a six-match win streak of its own prior to that loss. 

The Trojans got on the board first and secured the doubles point in the rubber match. No. 115 sophomore Naomi Cheong and freshman Grace Piper set the tone after defeating Oregon’s duo of junior Allison Mulville and sophomore Myah Petchey 6-1. 

Things would soon get tight on the two other courts as both matches tied at 5-5 at one point. USC’s duo of senior Danielle Willson and redshirt No. 82 freshman Snow Han secured the doubles point with their 7-5 victory over sophomore Ares Teixido Garcia and freshman Karin Young.

The Trojans’ momentum then carried onto the singles matches as Han defeated Teixido Garcia 6-3, 6-3 to put USC up two. Then, within a matter of minutes, Piper beat Young 6-1, 6-2 and Cheong closed the show with a 6-2, 6-4 win over sophomore Uxia Martinez Moral to secure a third straight 4-0 victory for USC. 

USC’s win against Oregon, especially crucial for the postseason, kept the team in fourth place in the Pac-12 standings. The top five teams all have first-round byes in the
Pac-12 tournament later this month. 

The Trojans would then secure a 4-2 victory in the second leg of their doubleheader against Cal Poly four hours later. The battle for the doubles point went down to the wire on court two as Willson and Han battled toe-to-toe with the Mustangs duo of redshirt sophomores Delanie Dunkle and Melissa Lamette. The Trojans ultimately lost early 7-6(3). 

In singles matches, freshman Leyden Games tied things up for the Trojans after her 6-2, 6-1 victory over freshman Peyton Dunkle. Han followed up by defeating Cal Poly’s Laura Bente 6-0, 6-4 to simultaneously collect her 30th singles victory of the season and give the Trojans a 2-1 lead. 

No. 42 senior Salma Ewing would then score a 6-2, 6-4 win over redshirt junior Kim Bhunu to make the score 3-1 in favor of the Trojans. Match point came on court four courtesy of Koenig’s 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Mustangs redshirt junior Emily Ackerman. 

Koenig gave credit to her teammates for having trust in her during the game-clinching match. 

“I did have a lot of pressure winning those last few points,” she said. “But I just knew that my teammates had full capability and knew that I was going to just push and compete as hard as I did.”

USC’s current six-match win streak is a new season-high for the team, which Koenig said added confidence going into postseason play.

“With the Pac-12 coming up, we just want to have a really good winning streak so we can go into that tournament really confident,” Koenig said. “That’s what’s really motivating us to do better.”

The Trojans will now have a few days off before Friday when they close the season against No. 16 UCLA, who are first in league standings and undefeated in Pac-12 play. 

“Not only is this just a huge rivalry match, but I just know [UCLA is] a great team,” Koenig said. “They have a lot of good players too, so we know that it’s going to be really close.”