Cougars Defeat No. 16 USC, 4-3
PULLMAN, Wash. – Junior Savanna Ly-Nguyen's three-set victory at No. 5 singles was the match-clincher as No. 47 Washington State upset No. 16 USC, 4-3, Sunday afternoon at the Simmelink Tennis Courts at Hollingbery Fieldhouse. It marked the second victory over USC in program history, the other coming on the road in 2018, and the first win against a Top 20 opponent since 2019, when the Cougars defeated No. 10 UCLA.
"What a match," said WSU head coach Lisa Hart. "I thought Savanna showed a great deal of composure after dropping the first set, sticking to her game plan and grinding out the win. I thought our entire team did a great job of fighting for every point, staying focused, and today's win was a complete team effort."
The Cougars never trailed as they took the opening doubles point, then extended the lead to 3-1. After a pair of USC wins, the match came down to No. 5 singles where Ly-Nguyen and USC's Summer Dvorak were in a tight match. Dvorak captured the first set 6-2 before Ly-Nguyen charged back to take the second, 6-0. The two battled all afternoon from the baseline and the third set was no different. Ly-Nguyen jumped out to leads of 2-1 and 5-2, but down a break, Dvorak held and broke serve to close within 5-4. Then it was Ly-Nguyen's turn to break, winning the final four points to close out the victory.
Doubles action started the day and WSU's No. 1 pair of Michaela Bayerlova and Hikaru Sato trailed 3-2 before winning four of the last five games to take the match 6-4 over Naomi Cheong and Eryn Cayetano. The Cougars were down 3-3, 0-40 before rallying for four-straight points to earn the break, propelling them to victory. At No. 2, WSU's Melisa Ates and Yang Lee held a 3-1 lead but couldn't capitalize on multiple deuce points as USC's Salma Ewing and Clare McKee rallied for the 6-4 win, pushing the deciding doubles point to Court 3.
At No. 3, WSU's Pang Jittakoat and Fifa Kumhom had two match points serving at 5-4, but USC's duo of Dvorak and Danielle Wilson managed to break serve, tying the match at 5-5. USC held a 40-0 lead in the next game before the Cougars duo won four straight points, capped by a Jittakoat service return winner to take a 6-5 lead. Down 0-30 in the next game, Kumhom and Jittakoat ran off four-consecutive points to seal the win 7-5, and give WSU the opening point.
In singles play, USC drew even at 1-1 as No. 48 Cayetano posted a 6-0, 6-2 win over Sato at No. 2. Ates, playing at No. 6, needed three sets but cruised in the third as she came away with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win, giving WSU a 2-1 lead. It marked the 97th career singles win for Ates, fifth all-time at WSU and one shy of No. 4.
Bayerlova, ranked No. 55 nationally, pushed the lead to 3-1 as she completed a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over No. 103 Cheong at No. 1. USC cut the lead to 3-2 when Ewing completed a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 comeback win over Kumhom at No. 3.
At No. 4, Wilson pulled out a hard-fought, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jittakoat, evening the match at 3-3 and putting the deciding match at No. 5.
The Cougars return to the court Thursday when they host Utah. Match time is set for 11 a.m.
WASHINGTON STATE TENNIS
No. 47 Washington State 4 def. No. 16 USC 3
March 7, 2021
Simmelink Tennis Courts at Hollingbery Fieldhouse
No. 1 Michaela Bayerlova/Hikaru Sato (WSU) def. Eryn Cayetano/Naomi Cheong (USC) 6-4
No. 2 Salma Ewing/Clare McKee (USC) def. Melisa Ates/Yang Lee (USC) 6-4
No. 3 Pang Jittakoat/Fifa Kumhom (WSU) def. Summer Dvorak/Danielle Wilson (USC) 7-5
Order of Finish: 1,2,3
No. 1 #55 Michaela Bayerlova (WSU) def. #103 Naomi Cheong (USC) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
No. 2 #48 Eryn Cayetano (USC) def. Hikaru Sato (WSU) 6-0, 6-2
No. 3 Salma Ewing (USC) def. Fifa Kumhom (WSU) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
No. 4 Danielle Wilson (USC) def. Pang Jittakoat (WSU) 6-4, 6-3
No. 5 Savanna Ly-Nguyen (WSU) def. Summer Dvorak (USC) 2-6, 6-0, 6-4
No. 6 Melisa Ates (WSU) def. Clare McKee (USC) 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Order of Finish: 2,6,1,3,4,5