Perez-Somarriba Advances to NCAA Title Match
By Alex Schwartz
ORLANDO, Fla. – Estela Perez-Somarriba of the University of Miami women’s tennis team secured her spot in the NCAA Singles Championship final with a straight-set victory Friday evening.
Top-ranked and top-seeded Perez-Somarriba defeated No. 46 Cameron Morra of North Carolina, 6-3, 6-1, at the USTA National Campus to earn the third title match berth in program history and the first since 2009.
Perez-Somarriba, who became the fourth two-time NCAA semifinalist in ACC history, is set to play second-ranked and second-seeded Katarina Jokic of Georgia Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the championship, live on Tennis Channel.
“She just looked like she had ice in her veins today,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “She did a good job of keeping Morra on her toes, which is what you have to do. She’s a very rhythmic player. She hits big off of both sides. When she’s down, she just absolutely rocks the ball. Stela served well, used her off-pace serve to get short looks, handled the situation well, I thought, and moved so much better than yesterday, which allowed her to just play great tennis.”
Perez-Somarriba took the first two games, including breaking at love in the opener, to begin the match. Morra countered with two wins of her own to pull level at 2-2.
From there, Perez-Somarriba won back-to-back games at love for a 4-2 edge. Morra closed within a game and Perez-Somarriba then extended her lead to 5-3, with service going back to the Tar Heel freshman.
Morra jumped out to a 40-0 lead in the ninth game, but Perez-Somarriba fought off four game points to break at deuce and win the opening set, 6-3.
The Madrid native continued her strong play into the second set, earning each of the first four games. Morra then broke at deuce to get on the board, but could not get any closer.
Perez-Somarriba won each of the last two games, giving her seven of the final eight overall, to seal the 6-3, 6-1 triumph and claim her spot in the finale.
“Stela just needed to be relentless in dictating play. We’ve been saying it the whole tournament, take the ball on the rise, recognize the short ball, dictate play and make [her opponent] feel uncomfortable,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “It’s not easy to do because Morra just rips those forehands, moves pretty well and competes her tail off. So, you’ve got to give credit to her; as a freshman, what a tournament.”
Perez-Somarriba moved to 11-2 in her career in NCAA Singles Championship play, tying Miami associate head coach Laura Vallverdu and Ronni Reis, both of whom finished 11-4, on the program’s tournament wins leaderboard. She also improved to 42-5 in 2018-19, tied for the second-most wins in a season by a Hurricane.
The two-time reigning ACC Player of the Year joins Vallverdu (2009 finalist) and Audra Cohen (2007 champion) on the list of Hurricanes to reach the final day.
Miami joins Stanford (22), Florida (10), California (five), Georgia (five), North Carolina (three) and USC (three) as the lone programs with a trio of championship appearances.
“I think Stela just need to stay in her lane, just keep doing what [she has been] doing, competing well, handling the emotions well, which she’s been doing, and dictating play,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “Her mentality when we’re at home playing dual matches at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center is, ‘I want to win every point I play.’ The mentality should be no different when she’s here and I’ve been reminding her of that the entire tournament. You get to the national title match and, at the end of the day, it’s another great match with two great players.”
Perez-Somarriba and Jokic have met once before, with the latter earning a 7-5, 7-5 victory on Oct. 22, 2017 on her home court in Athens, Ga.
This is the second time in four years the top two seeds in the tournament will face off for the title. Meanwhile, over the past two seasons, the two players atop the seed list combined for a total of just one win.
For more information on the NCAA championships, including schedules, brackets and live stats, visit the tournament homepage HERE.
NCAA Singles Championship Semifinals
No. 1  Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. No. 46 Cameron Morra (NC), 6-3, 6-1
NCAA Singles Championship Final
5:30 p.m.: No. 1  Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) vs. No. 2  Katarina Jokic (GA)