Women’s tennis comes to a close

Senior Salma Ewing high fives her teammate Sloane Morra at their match against Cal March 26.
Senior Salma Ewing high fives her teammate Sloane Morra at their match against Cal March 26. (Andrew Kerner | Daily Trojan file photo)

Last Thursday, the No. 19 women’s tennis season reached game, set and match.

USC’s remaining players lost in the NCAA singles tournament, effectively ending the season. After falling in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in early May, USC had two participants in the singles tournament — junior Eryn Cayetano made her debut and senior Salma Ewing participated for the second consecutive year. 

Ewing fell 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (6) in the Round of 16 last Wednesday to No. 26 Connie Ma from Stanford. Cayetano’s season ended with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 quarterfinal loss the next day to No. 2 Peyton Stearns from the University of Texas.  

Cayetano led the Trojans with 39 wins in singles play. The junior was also ranked the No. 1 singles player in the country in December 2021 — the first USC player since Sabrina Santamaria in September 2013. 

Along with Ewing, Cayetano earned All-Pac-12 First Team honors. Both also earned ITA All-American honors. 

“Eryn had a breakthrough season,” said Head Coach Alison Swain in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “It really started off with her putting in a lot of effort this past summer… [39] is just an absurd number of singles wins.” 

Losing in the Round of 16 concludes Ewing’s strong career at USC. As a junior and senior, she was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team. She received All-Pac-12 Second Team honors after a 19-win singles freshman season. Due to the coronavirus, there were no Pac-12 honors in 2020. 

Ewing evolved into an important vocal leader this season, Swain said. 

“She has so much experience playing at the top of our lineup all four years and she’s had huge highlights along the way,” Swain said. “Salma’s improvement over four years … really showed up this year in big moments and how she handled those big, high-pressure moments from a mental standpoint.” 

No. 50 Ewing and No. 7 Cayetano had contrasting roads through the rounds of 64 and 32 competitions.  

Cayetano defeated No. 29 Rebeka Mertena 6-1, 6-7(0), 6-3, then took down No. 65 Bunyawi Thamchaiwat in straight sets. It set up a matchup with No. 43 Mariia Kozyreva, who Cayetano outdueled in a 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. 

Unlike Cayetano, Ewing’s matches in the round of 64 and 32 were straight-set victories. She defeated No. 54 Victoria Hu 6-1, 6-4 then Veronika Miroshnichenko 7-5, 6-4 for a spot in the Round of 16. 

The Trojans’ season ends with an 18-12 overall record and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.