Sophomore Katarina Jokic ended her unbelievable NCAA run and season as the NCAA Singles Runner-up Saturday evening in a three-plus hour affair at the USTA National Campus.
The singles title match featured the top two seeded players in the 64-player field and it lived up to the billing with a first-set tiebreaker and a third-set finish. The top-seed Estella Perez-Somarriba, a junior from Miami, outlasted Georgia’s No. 2 Jokic, 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-3.
Today marked Jokic’s 15th match played in nine days when factoring in the doubles championships and team competition. She concludes the season as 25-6 with a 20-5 record against ranked opponents. Jokic is the fifth player in Georgia women’s tennis history to advance to the NCAA singles finals and the first since 2010. It marked the second grand slam singles appearance this season for Jokic as she won the Oracle/ITA National Fall Championships.
“She did all that we asked and more,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “The 15 matches in nine days is a tall order, yet she is still competing in that last match. She literally had nothing in the tank, but was still in there. She represented the program unbelievably. She had an amazing season. I know she is hurting that she didn’t get this last one, but we are super proud of her.”
In true fashion of the battle of the top two collegiate players in the country, the first set needed a tiebreaker for determination. However, the set started off with six-straight service breaks until Jokic obtained the first hold on deuce point to take the 4-3 advantage. After Jokic broke the Miami junior, she had the commanding 5-3 lead, but the Hurricane evened it at 5-all and then both players held serve for the tiebreaker. In the TB, Jokic won every service and broke Perez-Somarriba three times for the 7-6 (1) first set.
Miami’s two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year rebounded with a strong 6-2 second set, forcing the third set.
The first three games of set three went to deuce point, and there were six total in the set. Perez-Somarriba took five of those deuce points. Fatigue increasingly became more apparent for the taxed Bulldog in the third set. She trailed 1-4 on serve and the Hurricane moved it to deuce point on a let, and then won the following point for the commanding 5-1 lead. However, Jokic continued to fight as she was down 15-40 championship point and broke Perez-Somarriba for the opportunity to serve again at 2-5. Again she won on the set’s sixth deuce point for the 3-5 score, but Perez-Somarriba held her next serve for the championship clincher.
“We were just telling her to go for it, and she was in that last set,” Wallace added. “It is what she has been doing all season and tournament. That was high level tennis on both sides of the net.”
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JOKIC RESUME THIS YEAR
NCAA Singles Finalist as No. 2 seed
NCAA Doubles Quarterfinalist
ITA All-America Singles & Doubles
NCAA All-Tournament No. 1 Singles
First Team All-SEC
ITA National Team Indoors Most Outstanding Player
ITA All-Tournament Team No. 1 singles/No. 3 doubles
Oracle/ITA National Fall Singles Champion
Ranked No. 1 in eight of 11 ITA polls