Home UVA freshman Emma Navarro wins NCAA tennis national single title

UVA freshman Emma Navarro wins NCAA tennis national single title

Emma Navarro
Emma Navarro returns a volley in the finals of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship. Photo courtesy NCAA/USTA.

Emma Navarro capped a magical freshman season at UVA with a win in the finals of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship on Friday, taking down defending champion Estrela Perez-Somarriba of Miami 6-3, 6-1.

“I think what’s so special about winning this is the team of girls and coaches that have been behind me this whole season,” Navarro said. “It makes it really special, having them out there supporting me, and they’ve been with me every step of the way. So, to do it for them is really cool.”

Perez-Somarriba picked up an early break and took a 2-0 lead in the first set, but Navarro charged back, winning the first frame 6-3. Both players traded breaks to open the second set, but Navarro held to take a 2-1 lead and then charged through the final four games to wrap up the title.

“I set out today to be super aggressive and dictate with my forehand, and I think I was able to do that,” Navarro said. “I finished a lot of points in my backhand. A big thing for me is, as my coach and I say, getting outside the box, so using my back again down the line and using drop shots and coming to the net, that sort of thing that I don’t do as naturally. I set out to do a lot of that today and I think that worked well.”

Navarro concluded her freshman campaign with a 25-1 record in dominating fashion. The one loss had come to Perez-Somarriba, who won their first matchup in three sets during a UVA-Miami dual match in Coral Gables on April 4.

“I was up 6-1, 2-0 the last time we played, and she ended up coming back winning in a third set, so I knew she was going to fight, and she definitely did today,” Navarro said. “I think I was able to dictate with my forehand and finish a lot of points with my backhand, and I was able to execute better than I was last time, which is always a good feeling when you have a game plan and you can follow through with it. Credit to her. She fought hard and had a great tournament.”

Perez-Somarriba (24-3) was the No. 2 seed in the championship but is currently No. 1 in the ITA singles rankings. Navarro was the No. 3 seed and is currently third in the ITA rankings.

This was Perez-Somarriba’s third appearance in the NCAA title game with two finalist finishes and her 2019 championship.

Navarro is the second player in program history to win the NCAA Singles championship, joining Danielle Collins, who did so in 2014 and 2016.

Navarro was also a semifinalist in the doubles tournament, the only player in the field this year to make the semifinals in both championships. She and her partner Rosie Johanson are the first players in program history to advance that far in doubles.

Navarro is the first freshman to win an NCAA Singles Championship since Mallory Cecil of Duke in 2009. She is the eighth player to win it in her rookie season.

As an American player winning the NCAA Singles Championship, she will traditionally be awarded a wildcard into the main draw of the 2021 US Open, being held Aug. 30- Sept. 12 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].