Tennis

Miranda Ramirez crumbles late to Estela Perez-Somarriba in SU’s 4-3 win over Miami

Codie Yan | Staff Photographer

After winning 12-straight matches, Miranda Ramirez took two losses in singles this weekend.

The setup looked ideal for Miranda Ramirez. Up 40-30 in a critical game in the third set down 5-4, Ramirez needed a point to extend the match at least another two games.

The ball lazily floated close to the net, waiting for Ramirez to unleash voracious forehand on it. The freshman set her left foot forward and cocked her right arm back. As she fired the shot, a collective groan came from the crowd. A look of pure disdain dashed across Ramirez’s face as everyone realized she had misfired into the net.

“Not really sure what happened there,” Ramirez said. “It should’ve been my point.”

That point cost No. 79 Ramirez as she double faulted the next point, losing the set and the match to Miami’s No. 42 Estela Perez-Somarriba, 6-0, 6-7 (7-9), 4-6. Although Syracuse (7-10, 4-6 Atlantic Coast) defeated the No. 42 Hurricanes (6-10, 4-6) at Drumlins Tennis Center, 4-3, on Friday, Ramirez crumbled during the second half of her match. Even though she faced match point twice in the second set, Perez-Somarriba couldn’t be put away.

“She played a very tough opponent who didn’t go away,” SU head coach Younes Limam said.

Ramirez’s first set was one of her most dominant displays of the season. In about five minutes, the freshman jumped out to a 30-0 lead in the second game, after having already won the first. While Perez-Somarriba picked off the occasional point, Ramirez exercised control.

A whistling forehand served as a prelude to clean backhand slice that would send her opponent scurrying across the court. Backhand rallies ceased when Ramirez would lace a pinpoint shot into the court. With every winner, Ramirez yelped, “Point!” accompanied by a sneaky fist pump.

Ramirez took half an hour to build a 4-0 lead. To cap off the dominant first stanza, Ramirez won the final eight points straight.

“For an hour and 45 minutes,” Limam said, “she did exactly what she was supposed to do.”

The beginning of the second set played out the same. Eventually, Ramirez had match point — 40-30, 5-3. She couldn’t convert. It came again, and once more, Ramirez failed to win. Steadily, Perez-Somarriba drew herself even. With Ramirez up 40-15 and the set tied, 5-5, Perez-Somarriba rifled a shot just beyond Ramirez’s reach, inciting the freshman to smack her right thigh in frustration.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” Gabriela Knutson said, “because you’re in the match saying, ‘I had that opportunity, I could’ve won it.’”

After letting the second set slip away in a tiebreak, volunteer assistant coach Len Lopoo urged on Ramirez from the bench. “Reset Miranda,” Lopoo said. “Reset.” His backing wasn’t enough, and he could only watch as Ramirez fell behind.

“I noticed the momentum change of course,” Ramirez said, “but I was just trying to stay in the fight.”

Both players looked crisp in the final frame, and Perez-Somarriba inched out to a 3-2 lead. Next break, she led 4-3. Then 5-4. After such a promising opening, odds looked bleak that Ramirez would find the points she needed to win.

When she planted the ball into the net — even though it wasn’t the end — it appeared Ramirez was done. Fans muttered about how well she played and some even headed for the exits.

The perfect chance to draw even and force at least two more games was wasted. The double-fault that followed made the apparent reality.

“Just knowing that I could’ve won the match,” Ramirez said. “ … I was always there.”

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