Top-seeded Estela Perez-Somarriba of the University of Miami became just the second Hurricanes player to win a national title in women’s tennis.
Perez-Somarriba, a 5-5 junior from Madrid, Spain, defeated second-seeded Georgia Bulldogs sophomore Katarina Jokic, 6-7 (7-1), 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday night in Orlando.
“You don’t have to be the tallest or have the most amazing serve or the most amazing forehand,” Perez-Somarriba told The Tennis Channel after winning her title. “It’s the work ethic that matters.”
After her on-court interview, one of Perez-Somarriba’s sisters bear-hugged Estela. After they finished their embrace, Perez-Somarriba was hit with the traditional Gatorade bath.
Perez-Somarriba, who wept tears of joy after her win, is now in exclusive territory. Audra Cohen in 2007 was the first Hurricanes woman to win a national tennis title. Current Canes assistant coach Laura Vallverdue made the championship match in 2009.
Perez-Somarriba, the reigning two-time ACC Player of the Year, won more singles match than any player in NCAA Division I this year, going 43-5.
She also finished the year 5-0 against top-10 players.
The first set began with six straight broken service games. Perez-Somarriba then tried a drop shot that didn’t quite work. Jokic charged in for the put-away shot and a 4-3 lead that grew to 5-3.
Perez-Somarriba battled back to tie the score 5-5, but the set went to a tiebreaker. Jokic then won the final five points of the tiebreaker to win the first set.
Jokic, who is from Bosnia, perhaps got tired after winning the first set. This was her 15th match in the past nine days, including doubles, and she got routed in that second set against Perez-Somarriba, 6-2.
Perez-Somarriba went up 4-1 in the final set, and that’s when an exhausted Jokic called for a medical timeout. Perez-Somarriba then went up 5-1 and finally closed out the match after Jokic won two straight games.