Perez-Somarriba Advances to Second Straight Sweet 16
By Alex Schwartz
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Estela Perez-Somarriba of the University of Miami women’s tennis team is headed back to the NCAA Singles Championship Sweet 16.
Both ranked and seeded third in the field, Perez-Somarriba tallied a hard-fought straight-set win over No. 39 Megan McCray of Oklahoma State, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, Thursday at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in the Round of 32.
“I think Stela did a better job today,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She was serving better today, she was moving better today and she was handling her emotions better today. I thought that the quality of tennis was good. Just another match in the books against a quality opponent.”
With the win, Perez-Somarriba advances to face a fellow Spaniard, Andrea Lazaro of FIU, who is ranked No. 13 and seeded No. 9-16, Thursday at noon. They have played twice before, splitting straight-set decisions in October 2016.
The triumph also makes the Madrid native the seventh player in program history with at least six NCAA Singles Championship victories. She is the ninth Hurricane to make multiple Sweet 16 trips, including the seventh to do so in back-to-back years.
McCray won the opening game, giving Perez-Somarriba her first overall match deficit of the tournament. She responded with three straight games and then after the duo exchanged wins, her lead sat at 4-2.
After holding at deuce for the second straight time and then breaking at deuce, McCray pulled even at 4-4. Perez-Somarriba then broke back at deuce to take a 5-4 edge, but McCray took back-to-back games to grab a 6-5 lead.
Perez-Somarriba countered by forcing a tiebreaker, but she dropped three of the first four points. The ACC Player of the Year and ITA National Player to Watch then won six straight points, the only time either player did so all day, to win the tiebreaker and take the set, 7-6 (7-3).
It marked the first time a Miami player won a tiebreaker in the tournament since Sinead Lohan did so in 2015 by an identical score in the same round against North Carolina’s Caroline Price.
“When Stela went down, I think that 5-6 game was pretty disciplined, but aggressive at the same time,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I think Stela opened up the court a couple times, which I wanted her to do from the beginning. Then, she just played a quality tiebreaker that brought in the set.”
Perez-Somarriba won the first two games of the second set, but the players then seesaw through the next four games before Perez-Somarriba held to take a 5-2 lead.
McCray kept her hopes alive with a hold, but Perez-Somarriba closed it out in her first match-point opportunity the next game, sealing the 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 triumph.
“When you get leads—we talk about that a lot—you have to work on separating. That’s when you have to get even more disciplined and she did a good job of that,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of Perez-Somarriba’s second set. “I think McCray got a little bit down on herself and came up with a few more unforced errors, but I think the difference between the first and second set was that Stela didn’t just give away points. When Stela is playing her best tennis, she doesn’t give away points. So, I was happy with the way she ended the match on a high note.”
With top-seeded Bianca Turati of Texas falling in the first round and second-seeded Makenna Jones losing in the second, Perez-Somarriba is now the highest remaining seed in the field. The two-time First Team All-ACC honoree is 39-7 this year, good for the sixth-most singles wins in a season in program history, including 20-4 versus ranked foes and 28-2 in the spring.
Just four other players in the third round this season also made the cut last year: Anna Danilina of Florida, Ashley Lahey and Mayar Sherif Ahmed of Pepperdine and Ena Shibahara of UCLA.
Perez-Somarriba’s Sweet 16 berth will be the 24th in Miami history, including the 14th in the past 15 seasons. This is the 10th time in that 15-year span at least one Hurricane has reached the third round of the NCAA Singles Championship.
Miami has now had at least one representative in the Sweet 16 each of the past four years, tying the program record set from 1985-88 and 2007-10.
Live stats and live video for Perez-Somarriba’s match against Lazaro can be found HERE on the tournament homepage, which also has the full bracket and additional information.
NCAA Singles Championship Second Round
No. 3  Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. No. 39 Megan McCray (OKST), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
NCAA Singles Championship Sweet 16
12 p.m.: No. 3  Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) vs. No. 13 [9-16] Andrea Lazaro (FIU)