Perez-Somarriba Moves on to NCAA Elite Eight
ATHENS, Ga. – The fifth time was the charm for Estela Perez-Somarriba of the University of Miami women’s tennis team Friday afternoon.
After No. 47 Mia Horvit of South Carolina staved off four match points, Perez-Somarriba sealed it on her fifth opportunity and earned a spot in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Singles Championship.
Following nearly three hours of competition, No. 40 Perez-Somarriba’s 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 victory at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex made her the fourth freshman in program history to reach the NCAA quarterfinals.
“Every match so far has given her a little bit of adversity—different types of adversity—and she has responded,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She has stayed tough in the tough moments. She is playing the big points well.”
A deciding point in the first game of the match went Horvit’s way to give her a 1-0 lead, but Perez-Somarriba then reeled off five consecutive wins to pull within one game of taking the opening set.
Horvit answered back by taking each of the next three games. However, despite falling into a 0-40 hole in the ensuing game, Perez-Somarriba regrouped to hold and clinch the opener.
Perez-Somarriba dropped the first game of the second set, but then got right back to her winning ways. She took five of the next six games, including four in a row to start that stretch, earning a 5-2 edge.
Horvit, a fellow freshman, held off a trio of match points at 5-2 and then another one at 5-4, en route to taking the second set, 7-5.
After opening the third set by coming up short in the first game, Perez-Somarriba did not lose again. The Madrid native won each of the final six games, including coming back from a 0-30 deficit in the finale, sealing the victory at deciding point on her first chance of the last set.
“Estela was serving a lot better, she was able to get this kid off the court and she was able to open up the court better today. Her level of tennis has improved as the tournament has gone on,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She is finding her tennis earlier in the match and she just needs to keep doing that moving forward. She needs to stay calm, stay relaxed, control the emotions and just enjoy this.”
Perez-Somarriba is the 11th Hurricane to reach the NCAA Singles Championship quarterfinals. Her match Saturday will mark the 15th appearance by a Miami player in the Elite Eight, including the 10th in the past 14 seasons.
Additionally, Perez-Somarriba is just the fifth unseeded player in program history to reach the quarterfinals. That list includes two of the other three freshmen to make the Elite Eight in Sinead Lohan (2015) and Melissa Mazzotta (1991). The other Miami freshman to reach the quarterfinals was Ronni Reis (1985), who was seeded sixth.
Miami and North Carolina, both ACC programs, are the lone schools with at least one player in the Elite Eight each of the past three seasons. The Hurricanes are the only team with four competitors over that time, as Perez-Somarriba joins Lohan (2015, 2016) and Stephanie Wagner (2015), who served as Miami’s student assistant coach this year.
“These girls are just total rock stars. They work hard, they are committed and they bring their best tennis when it matters,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of the trio. “We are in May; this started back in August. So, to be playing this type of tennis with this attitude and this passion, this deep in the season and in these conditions, it just says so much about just who these kids are and what they are made of. I couldn’t be any prouder.”
Thus far in her freshman season, Perez-Somarriba sports a 33-6 mark. Her 26-3 record in the spring features an 11-1 ledger versus ranked opponents. She is 6-0 this spring against top-50 players with four of those victories coming within her last seven completed matches.
Perez-Somarriba is one of two ACC players in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Singles Championship, along with Sara Daavettila of North Carolina. Those two and Pepperdine’s Ashley Lahey are the only remaining freshmen.
Now riding a 14-match winning streak, Perez-Somarriba is set to meet No. 26 Kate Fahey of Michigan in the quarterfinals Saturday at noon.
NCAA Singles Championship Sweet 16
No. 40 Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. No. 47 Mia Horvit (SC), 6-4, 5-7, 6-1
NCAA Singles Championship Elite Eight
12 p.m.: No. 40 Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) vs. No. 26 Kate Fahey (MI)