After surging into the NCAA Tournament fresh off a Missouri Valley Conference championship and a nine-game win streak, the Illinois State women’s tennis team fought back in each match, but dropped the opening-round meet, 4-0, at the University of Southern California Saturday.

“We came out with the right attitude and played to win,” ISU head coach Maja Kovacek said. “It was a great learning experience, and I know these kids are motivated and excited to do whatever it takes to be in the same position next year.”

The Redbirds faced two nationally ranked players, as freshman Tara Damnjanovic dropped her singles match to No. 83 Angela Kulikov, 6-4, after coming back from a 3-0 deficit.

Senior Veronika Golanova also faced No. 51 Salma Ewing, but fell, 6-2 and 4-1, ultimately clinching the Trojans’ win.

The Trojans defeated ISU in three singles and two doubles competitions, while not finishing three singles and one doubles match.

The Redbirds finish their season at 20-7 after reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.

KADE HEATHER is Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter at @kade_heather 

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