USC Women’s Tennis to Open Season At ITA Kickoff Weekend
After the 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Women of Troy have returned stronger than ever and ready to hit the court for the 2021 season. USC returns seven to the squad and tacks on the addition of four stellar newcomers (see newcomers section for more information). USC will face Denver in their first match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend on Saturday (Jan. 23) in Malibu, Calif. at 1 p.m. PT. Pepperdine (the host) and Wisconsin will also be participating. The winners of Saturday's matches will face off on Sunday (Jan. 24) and the losing teams will compete as well with the consolation match set for 10 a.m. PT and the championship match at 1 p.m. PT. The winner of this event will earn an automatic bid to the ITA National Team Indoors in February.
ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
The Women of Troy kick off their 2021 campaign holding the No. 17 team rank in the nation. Three Trojans boast singles rankings: No. 22 Angela Kulikov, No. 48 Eryn Cayetano and No. 103 Naomi Cheong. Additionally, Cheong is ranked the No. 10 Newcomer/Freshman in the nation. In doubles, the duo of Angela Kulikov and Eryn Cayetano are ranked No. 12.
All-American and redshirt senior Angela Kulikov returns for her fifth year as a member of the Women of Troy. After reaching the NCAA Doubles semifinals in 2019, she had a strong 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short. Holding the No. 1 position, she finished the season holding the No. 27 rank in singles and the No. 16 rank in doubles with partner Eryn Cayetano. She enters the season ranked No. 22 in singles and No. 12 in doubles. Kulikov hopes to close out unfinished business this season and make her mark in her final year of collegiate competition.
The Trojans will face recent foe, Denver, on Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. PT. USC is 1-1 against the Pioneers, defeating them in 2015 at ITA Kickoff Weekend, but then falling to them in the First Round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Pioneer Taylor Melville is ranked No. 117 in singles, and she also holds the No. 36 doubles rank with partner Hada Chang.
The Pepperdine Waves open the season ranked No. 5 in the nation and debut six ranked players on their squad. Fifth-year and three-time All-American Ashley Lahey returns and kicks off the season with the No. 1 singles ranking. Also ranked in singles are No. 12 Shiori Fukuda, No. 33 Jessica Failla, No. 36 Anastasia Iamachkine, No. 45 Lexi Ryngler and No. 88 Taisya Pachkaleva. The Waves do not have any pairs ranked doubles.
The Wisconsin Badgers travel to the west coast to begin the season. They do not have any ranked singles or doubles players. How many times we've faced them. USC has faced Wisconsin only twice in program history, and the Trojans are 1-1 with the Badgers.
WATCH THE TROJANS
Due to the fact that this tournament will not be taking place at Pepperdine's regular tennis facility (matches will take place at Crest Tennis Park), live-streaming and scoring of the matches will not be available. Follow along on Instagram and Twitter @USCWomensTennis for score updates.
In 2020, the Trojans had a 7-6 record and went 0-2 in Pac-12 Conference play. During the 2020 campaign, the sport was shut down nationally midseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (USC's last 10 regular season matches were cancelled.)