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Tennis holding ends years of successful postseason

Emily Smith | Daily Trojan

After almost a month off season, men's and women's tennis community played their seasons last Thursday and Friday. Although each team had their hard-won battles, the 2018-19 season was an improvement from last year for both teams.

After finishing third in the Pac-12 in the 2017-2018 season, men's team improved to second place this season, just behind the crosstown rival UCLA. The women's team, which finished fourth in last in the Pac-12 last season, finished fourth in the Pac-12. Both teams also sent at least one player to the NCAA individual championships for singles and / or doubles.

Troy's men started their postseason game in the NCAA team tournament as the eighth seed. After beating both Northern Arizona and San Diego without losing a single point, the men's team was eliminated 16 times when they were defeated 1-4 by No. 9 North Carolina.

The men's season did not end there when they sent three singles players and a double hold for the NCAA tournament. Junior Brandon Holt, sophomore Daniel Cukierman, and senior Tanner Smith participated in the singles tournament for the Trojans.

All three players went on to the 32-round, but only Holt became victorious. For 16 rounds, Holt overtook a first set loss and earned him a place in the quarterfinals. Holt's quarter-final appearance was the first for the Trojans since 2012, when Stevie Johnson continued to win the NCAA title. Holt lost his quarter-final match to No. 1 senior Nuno Borges from Mississippi State.

The Trojan's double-hold consisted of Holt and junior Riley Smith, who came in as No. 10 seeds, but did not make it out of the first round and lost in a three-set match to No. 8 Texas A&M sophomores Carlos Aguilar and Barnaby Smith.

On the women's side, USC entered the NCAA tournament as No. 13 seed. Like the men, the women went to 16 times without losing a single point. The Trojans did not pass this round, but lost to No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks 0-4.

The women's team sent a single player and a double duo to the women's NCAA tournament. Freshman Salma Ewing was the only Trojan to compete in the singles tournament, which fell in the first round against No. 19 Marta Gonzalez, a junior from Georgia, in a three-set match.

The double-held, consisting of junior Angela Kulikov and senior Rianna Valdes, made it to the semi-finals, the longest for both men's and women's teams.

"It is a great success for the girls to be the third Trojan couple to reach the NCAA semi-finals," headline Alison Swain said.

The couple crossed to the semifinals in Orlando without losing a single set in their first three games.

"We've played our best doubles all week, but still better with each game. It's exciting to put on such great achievements and still know we can do even better tomorrow," Kulikov said.

The Trojans confronted a well-known enemy in the UCLA team seniors Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield in the semi-finals. Troy's women were no match for their crosstown rivals who lost in continuous sets, 4-6, 4-6.

Although USC couldn't crown a national champion this season, both teams have a lot to be proud of. The men's team finished their season with a total record of 22-8, only by dropping a conference match. The women's team ended their season with a record of 20-8, only lost three conference matches. Both teams are trying to improve their performance next season, hoping to add the creepy championship banner to Marks Stadium.

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