In the wake of the NCAA’s decision to give spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, senior tennis player Estela Perez-Somarriba is the first UM athlete to announce her decision to stay at Miami for another year.
Perez-Somarriba won the NCAA singles title last May and was hoping to defend her title this spring before the season was cut short because of the coronavirus.
With the majority of her family in Madrid, Spain, Perez-Somarriba is self-isolating in her apartment in Coral Gables and said the decision ultimately came down to being able to finish her career at Miami, a place where she has been able to evolve as a player and a person.
“I love UM. This University and tennis program have given me everything to succeed and accomplish my dreams on and off the court,” Perez-Somarriba said in letter published on Hurricanesports.com. “I cannot put into words how much pride and honor I have had while representing the U. Finishing my career like I had always thought I would is something that means a lot to me.”
Perez-Somarriba explained that she will use next year as a way to slowly transition from college tennis to professional tennis. She said she plans to play in professional matches in the fall when UM’s season is just beginning. The NCAA allows college athletes to participate in professional tournaments as long as the athletes adhere to the strict rules regarding agents and prize money, among other things. Perez-Somarriba had planned on turning pro at the end of the 2019-2020 season.
“Even though I will still represent UM, I will have plenty of opportunities to compete and increase my professional ranking while practicing with the team,” Perez-Somarriba said. “I think that over the next year, I can make some big improvements in my tennis and work towards both short- and long-term goals. I know I can still leave a mark on this program by achieving great results and impacting my teammates, while having in mind my goal of playing professionally.”
The Madrid, Spain native also brought up that because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no guarantee about when tournaments will resume on a normal schedule and tennis sponsors are not operating under normal circumstances. The opportunity to play tennis and earn her master’s degree while on a scholarship was something that she knew she couldn’t take for granted.
With a 3.928 GPA currently, Perez-Somarriba will earn her bachelor’s degree in economics at the end of this school year after finishing the rest of the semester online.
Perez-Somarriba said that her decision to come to Miami for college has changed her life and she is excited for Hurricanes fans to see her out on the court one more time.
“Four years ago, I followed my gut and ended up in Miami; it has been nothing but amazing and life changing. I have turned my whole experience into dream and I knew whichever option I chose was the best for me. I hope you are ready to see me playing out there once again because I cannot be more excited for what is ahead of this program.”