University of Miami tennis player Estela Perez-Somarriba, who made history on Sunday as the first freshman in school history to reach the NCAA Singles Championship semifinals, fell just short of making the final.
She lost 1-6, 7-5, 3-6 to sixth-ranked Belinda Woolcock of Florida after rallying from down 1-6, 1-5 in the second set. Perez-Somarriba won six straight games to force a third set, but couldn’t hang on.
Ranked No. 40, she was first player ranked No. 40 or below to reach the Final Four since No. 43 Stacey Tan of Stanford in 2011. Perez-Somarriba, who stands just 5-5, is a native of Madrid.
“Absolutely incredible,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said of Perez-Somarriba’s run in Athens, Ga. “I think just the slow starts (in the first and third sets) kind of were the difference in the match, but credit to Woolcock. She plays a heavy ball. She pushes you back in the court and then she steps up and takes the attackable ball very early. Estela was struggling a little bit with those heavy deep balls. It took her a long time to figure them out and to find her rhythm on them.”
Woolcock will play No. 24 Brienne Minor of Michigan in the national championship. Minor defeated Miami junior Sinead Lohan, ranked No. 21, in the opening round.
Perez-Somarriba, an ITA All-American went 34-7 over the season. She was 18-2 in her last 20 completed matches and beat 11 ranked players during that stretch.
“When you come in, you work hard and you are just doing things right every day, good things happen,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of Perez-Somarriba. “That is what we preach all the time and she is just the perfect example of that. This girl is going to get so much better and she has got the right attitude to really be amazing for us the next three years.”