ATLANTA--Sophomore Abigail Tere-Apisah became the second player in Georgia State women's tennis history to be named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year on Thursday at the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association Tennis Awards banquet.
Junior Whitney Byrd earned All-CAA Second Team Singles honors and joined sophomore Maryna Kozachenko on the All-CAA First Team Doubles squad. It's the second-consecutive, All-CAA First Team Doubles honor for Kozachenko and the first CAA awards for Byrd in her rookie season at GSU (9-6).
Tere-Apisah is the second GSU player in the last three years to win CAA Player of the Year honors. The Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, native was named the 2011 CAA Rookie of the Year following a 14-2 season. Tere-Apisah earned a 14-1 record this season in singles play as Georgia State's top player. The sophomore is currently ranked No. 36 in the ITA National Singles rankings after she defeated four ranked opponents in 2012. She joins Diana Nakic in 2009 and 2010 as the only two players in GSU history to earn CAA Player of the Year honors.
"It's a great accomplishment for Abby, we knew she was a very talented player when she first came here, but now she's gotten to the point where she shows that consistently," fifth-year head coach Miha Lisac said. "She's becoming a leader of the team and I think this award is confirmation for her that she's doing great things on the courts and I believe the best is yet to come for her."
Byrd earned the All-CAA Second Team Singles honor after posting outstanding numbers in her first season as a Panther. She compiled a 9-6 record playing most of her matches in the No. 3 singles position. She came up clutch twice this season with match-clinching singles victories to lead GSU to wins against No. 43 William & Mary and at No. 37 USF.
"Whitney has been a very solid point for us and fits in very well with our team," Lisac said, "I'm very happy she's being recognized as Second Team All-CAA, she definitely deserves it. Her consistency this season is a big reason for our success this year."
Byrd and Kozachenko compiled a 5-1 record this season and have won three straight matches heading into the CAA Championship. The two have been a consistent point for GSU this season, including victories in the No. 2 doubles slot against nationally-ranked VCU and USF squads to close the year. The two won a hard-fought, 9-8 (7-5) match at No. 50 VCU to clinch the doubles point in Georgia State's 3-4 loss. The two also took GSU's lone doubles victory at No. 37 USF with an 8-6 triumph in the No. 2 position.
"Whitney and Maryna started playing together halfway through the season and as soon as we switched the doubles up it was evident that they clicked," Lisac said, "They found ways to win matches when they played well and didn't play well, which is huge in doubles play. I'm very happy they're getting recognized for it."
The 60th-ranked Panthers, the No. 3 seed in the CAA Championships, square off with the sixth-seeded James Madison at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
"I am very proud of the individuals getting recognized by the CAA, and Abby, Whitney and Maryna realize that they would not be recognized without the support of their team," Lisac said. "Each and every piece of our team is crucial. I think senior Tereza Lerova with her leadership, freshmen Masa Grgan and Chaimaa Roudami coming in and playing so well, senior Martina Ondrackova dealing with injuries and still playing well and freshman Megan Nelms providing depth all have contributed to them being recognized."
Visit the women's tennis page on www.GeorgiaStateSports.com for all the latest news on the GSU women's tennis team's trip to the 2012 CAA Championships.