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Freshman women’s tennis phenom Emma Navarro wins the NCAA singles championship

The Charleston, S.C. native downed reigning national champion, Miami senior Estela Perez-Somarriba, in straight sets

<p>Freshman Emma Navarro dropped just two sets en route to Virginia's third ever NCAA women's singles title.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman Emma Navarro dropped just two sets en route to Virginia's third ever NCAA women's singles title. 

Freshman Emma Navarro became the second player in Virginia women’s tennis history to win an NCAA singles championship Friday, downing Miami senior — and reigning national champion — Estela Perez-Somarriba 6-3, 6-1 in Orlando, Fla. She joins current world No. 50 Danielle Collins — who won NCAA singles titles in 2014 and 2016 — in the record books as she brings home the Cavaliers’ third singles title. 

Navarro started the tournament as the No. 3 overall seed in a pool of 64 players, boasting a 25-1 singles record and the highest win percentage in Virginia history. The All-American and ACC Freshman of the Year made light work of her first opponent, defeating California’s Haley Giavara in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2. 

In the Round of 32, Navarro was matched up against Arizona State senior Ilze Hattingh. While Hattingh came into the tournament ranked No. 84 in the country, she took the first set with force, shocking Navarro with a 6-1 win. In the second set, Navarro, with her back against the wall, mustered a 7-5 victory, before dispatching Hattingh with a dominating 6-0 victory in the final set. 

Despite hitting a rough patch in the Round of 32, Navarro coasted through the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals, downing Georgia junior No. 20 Meg Kowalski 6-1, 6-1 and LSU senior No. 60 Paris Corley 6-1, 6-2, respectively. 

In the semifinals, Navarro was matched up against North Carolina senior No. 1 Sara Daavettila in a rematch of their ACC Tournament game that was suspended with Navarro up 5-4 in the third set. Their NCAA Tournament match would match the intensity of their ACC Tournament match, as Navarro took the first set 6-4 and Daavettila took the following set 6-2. With both players on their heels, Navarro rediscovered her magic from the first set and downed Daavettila with ease 6-2 in the third set. 

“I was pretty confident in the game plan I had in mind, it was just whether I could execute it well enough,” Navarro said after the semifinals. “In the second set I lost four deuce points which is pretty tough. And then I was able to win a big one in the third set that kind of helped me to run away with it a little bit. But yeah, I was pretty calm and confident.” 

Navarro’s win over Daavettila set up a final against a reigning champion in Perez-Somarriba, who was the only player to defeat Navarro all season, having defeated the Charleston, S.C. native 6-1, 4-6, 3-6 in April. Nonetheless, Navarro found an extra gear in what could be her final match of her college career, should she go pro, and dispatched Perez-Somarriba in just an hour and 15 minutes, dispatching the Spaniard 6-3, 6-1. 

“I think [coming to Virginia] is one of the best decisions I've ever made,” Navarro said. “I've had the most fun playing tennis this season at U.Va., and I couldn't have asked for a better coaching staff or a better team to have by my side.”

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