In one of the most anticipated exhibition matches in the history of the Delray Beach Open, 15-year old tennis champion Cori “Coco” Gauff defeated Estela Perez-Somarriba 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday night in her homecoming debut.
“It feels great to play in front of my family and friends who haven’t gotten to see me play live at anytime in my life,” Gauff expressed after the match.
She and her opponent made history together by becoming the first female participants in the tournament’s 22-year history.
“I don’t put much pressure on myself,” Gauff says. “I just go out there to have fun and see what happens. I mean, today was definitely a lot more relaxed situation than I’m used to.”
The same goes for Perez-Somarriba, the defending singles national champion from the University of Miami.
What an incredible night.
📸: @estelasomarriba and @CocoGauff at the Delray Beach Open. pic.twitter.com/gdEORgS2LP
— Miami Hurricanes (@MiamiHurricanes) February 16, 2020
“It means the world to me,” Madrid native Perez-Somarriba explains. “The University of Miami, they’ve been my family for the last four years and if I’m here today, it’s because of them. My teammates, my coaches, they’ve been supporting me for the last years so much, and, yes, I’m just so grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”
After the match, Gauff signed autographs, posed for selfies with fans, and threw autographed tennis balls into the crowd.
“I was actually a little bit nervous for today just because of the crowd,” she says. “You know, you don’t want to let your hometown down. It’s definitely different. I’ve played in a couple of exhibitions, but this one definitely felt a lot different to my previous ones.”
She recently returned to South Florida after competing in the Australian Open and at Wimbledon.
Gauff, herself a Hurricanes fan, says of her opponent, “She’s going pro, so I’m sure I’m going to see her and probably play her in a non-exhibition match when we’re both a little bit more serious.”