Athens, Ga.--Georgia State women's tennis sophomore Abigail Tere-Apisah became the first player in school history to earn ITA All-America status in tennis with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 victory against Tennessee's Kata Szekely in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Women's Singles Championship on Thursday.
Tere-Apisah dominated the first set and broke late in the second before she clinched the match on serve. The sophomore from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, joins an exclusive list as one of 21 student-athletess from any sport to earn All-America honors in the history of Georgia State University athletics. She earned ITA All-America status by advancing to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Singles Championship. She is the first since Iain Vance earned the honor in 2010 as a kicker on the football team and is just the fourth female student-athlete in GSU history to be named an All-American.
The No. 37-ranked Tere-Apisah advances to face the No. 1-ranked Allie Will from the University of Florida at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Tere-Apisah's latest victim, the No. 57-ranked Szekely, is the sixth nationally-ranked player she has defeated this season.
"Compared to Katie Le yesterday, Szekely's game was a bit slower and her backhand was not as strong; when I hit it deep to her backhand side she found it hard to get it back deep on my side," Tere-Apisah said, "I also tried to keep it deep to her backhand to counteract her slice backhands and drop shots."
Tere-Apisah blazed out of the gates, winning the first match on serve and not allowing a point in the process. The sophomore from Georgia State and junior from Tennessee traded games on serve before Tere-Apisah broke serve to gain an early edge. After breaking to take a 3-1 lead, Tere-Apisah yet again looked dominant on serve by not allowing a point to take a 4-1 advantage. Szekely (pronounced "SAY-kay") then held her serve and broke Tere-Apisah to narrow the gap to 4-3.
In the ensuing game, Szekely raced out to a 30-0 lead looking to knot the match at 4-4. Tere-Apisah responded by working the match to deuce and eventually breaking to grab a 5-3 edge. She held serve in the next game to take the first set.
"Abby came very prepared and focused to play and I think it showed in the beginning," fifth-year head coach Miha Lisac said. "In my opinion she won that first set because she had a great start. That's something we have talked about, taking advantage of someone who is not 100 percent ready to go from the first point. Today Abby really took advantage of that."
Szekely, who defeated the No. 11-ranked player in the nation in Georgia Tech's Jillian O'Neill 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday, responded in the second set. Both players traded holding serve in the tightly-contested second set until the match was tied at 4-4. With Szekely serving, Tere-Apisah utilized strong forehand winners to race out to a 15-40 lead and eventually broke serve to take a 5-4 advantage.
"We kept holding in the second set and when it was 4-4 I really wanted to break her serve so that I would be able to take advantage of my serve in the next game," Tere-Apisah said, "I wanted to break so bad, after that happened then I knew I was ready to go."
Tere-Apisah and Szekely went to deuce three times in the final game. Finally, a backhand from the Volunteer dipped into the net when the Georgia State sophomore held the advantage to give Tere-Apisah the win.
Tere-Apisah's wins in the first two rounds are the first by a Georgia State tennis player in school history. She won her first match 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-0 against Santa Clara's Katie Le in the first round Wednesday morning. The sophomore now has a 19-1 record this season and is 6-1 during the spring season vs. nationally-ranked opponent. Tere-Apisah is now one win away from tying Kiera Strickland and Katerina Gresova for fourth on the GSU women's tennis career wins list.
Tere-Apisah adds the All-America honor to numerous awards she earned during a historic 2012 season. The sophomore also earned the ITA Player to Watch award in the Southeast region, one of 12 players in the nation to earn the award. She also earned the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, the Most Outstanding Performer at the CAA Championship and All-CAA First Team Singles honors this season. She was honored as the CAA Rookie of the Year and the Most Outstanding Performer at the CAA Championship in 2011.
Fans can follow tomorrow's 11:30 a.m. match by watching live video and live stats courtesy of the University of Georgia and a live blog on www.GeorgiaStateSports.com.