Emma Navarro entered the NCAA singles and doubles tournament feeling exhausted after a long season. Despite admitting to some fatigue, the Virginia freshman hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Navarro punched her ticket to the NCAA singles national championship Thursday with a win over No. 1 seed Sara Daavettila of North Carolina. Navarro, the No. 3 seed, won 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in a competitive three-set match.
“I’m happy with how I was able to fight today and the past four or five days,” Navarro said. “To get to this point it’s really special. And playing for a school like UVa, I’m really grateful.”
With a win Friday over Miami’s Estrela Perez-Somarriba, the No. 2 seed, Navarro would become the first UVa women’s tennis player to win a singles national championship since Danielle Collins in 2016. Collins is the only Virginia women’s tennis player to win a singles national championship, earning the title in 2014 and 2016.
If Navarro wins, she’ll become the first freshman to win the women’s individual singles national title since Duke’s Mallory Cecil in 2009.
Not only will the championship match have historic implications, but it will also feature a rematch between two of the ACC’s best players. Perez-Somarriba, who won the 2019 singles title, defeated Navarro 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 on April 3.
Getting through the semifinal singles match to create a rematch with Perez-Somarriba was a challenge for Navarro, as Daavettila is a tremendous player. UNC’s star entered the final set with momentum after a solid second set. Navarro rallied, controlling the final set.
“I was pretty confident in the game plan I had, it was just whether I could execute it well enough,” Navarro said. “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 run away with it a little bit.”
In addition to reaching the NCAA singles championship match, Navarro nearly reached the NCAA doubles final as well. She and teammate Rosie Johanson reached Thursday’s NCAA semifinals but fell 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (8) against Kylie Collins and Lulu Sun of Texas.
Navarro’s success this season comes as no surprise to those in the tennis world.
The No. 1 recruit nationally coming out of high school, Navarro had the talent to turn professional without ever stepping foot on a collegiate court. Instead of jumping to the professional ranks, she opted to join Virginia for what’s turned out to be a magical freshman season.
“I think this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Navarro said. “I’ve had the most fun playing tennis this season at UVa and I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching staff or a better team to have by my side.”