ATLANTA--Staring at three matches, including two vs. ranked opponents, the No. 38-ranked Georgia State women's tennis team's trip to California this week will be anything but a spring break vacation.
The Panthers (4-2) kick-off their three matches that span Georgia State University's spring break in The Golden State on Monday with a 6 p.m. (EST) match at No. 43 Sacramento State.
Georgia State squares off against No. 66 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday (4:30 p.m. EST) and finishes the trip with a match at Fresno State on Friday (2 p.m. EST). Georgia State will be playing each school for the first time in program history.
"We are getting a chance to play against two nationally-ranked teams and both of those will be very tough matches," fifth-year head coach Miha Lisac said. "At the same time, we cannot forget about a very good Fresno State team. They're not in the national rankings right now, but they have very talented players on the roster. They may be moving back to the national rankings at some point this season, and we don't want that to happen at the expense of us."
The spring break trek is an important stretch of the schedule for Lisac and Georgia State. It is the second time this season the team will face ranked teams in back-to-back matches as GSU tries to bounce back from a loss at UNC Wilmington on Saturday. The Panthers dropped the doubles point and couldn't rally in singles to avoid falling 4-3 to the Seahawks. It was GSU's first loss to an unranked opponent since Apr. 17, 2010.
Sophomore Abigail Tere-Apisah will face one ranked singles player in Fresno State sophomore Marianne Jodoin on the trip. Jodoin, ranked No. 49 in the ITA Women's Singles rankings, offers the No. 58-ranked Tere-Apisah a golden opportunity to improve her rankings.
Georgia State's first match against Sacramento State (6-3) features two teams that have had no shortage of difficult tests to start the year. GSU has three matches against ranked opponents under its belt, including two wins, while the Hornets have done the same, but bowed in all three. Sacramento State opened its spring with losses to No. 16 USC (7-0) and No. 45 Texas Tech (6-1) before it dropped a 6-1 match to No. 28 Washington on Feb. 10. Senior Tatsiana Kapshai, the Hornets No. 1 singles player this season, enters the match with a 6-3 mark overall and a five-match winning streak.
UCSB is 3-7 overall, but just two of its seven losses came to unranked opponents. The Gauchos opened the year with 6-1 losses to No. 33 Arizona and No. 21 Arizona State before losing 5-2 to No. 45 South Florida. UCSB rebounded with a 4-3 victory against No. 75 UC Davis, but has since fallen to the likes of No. 34 St. Mary's (6-1) and No. 7 Southern California (7-0). Santa Barbara hosts St. John's (N.Y.) on Monday before taking on the Panthers on Wednesday.
The matchup of Tere-Apisah vs. Jodoin highlights Georgia State's final match in California vs. Fresno State (2-5). The Bulldogs have narrow losses to Sacramento State (4-3), Saint Mary's (5-2) and Texas A&M (5-2) on the season. Fresno State also has a 5-2 win vs. No. 75 UC Davis on the year, but will be looking to bounce back against GSU after back-to-back losses.
Visit the women's tennis page on www.GeorgiaStateSports.com after every match to read a recap and box score. Fans can receive updates from matches by following the Georgia State women's tennis team on Twitter at twitter.com/GSUWTennis.