Athens, Ga.--Trading shot for shot with the No. 1-ranked player in the nation, Georgia State women's tennis sophomore Abigail Tere-Apisah finished one of the best seasons in school history by bowing out in the 2012 NCAA Singles Championship Round of 16 by a 6-1, 6-4 margin to Allie Will of the University of Florida.
Tere-Apisah finishes 19-2 on the season, a new school record for singles victories in one year. She became the first Georgia State tennis player in school history to win matches at the NCAA Singles Championship and the first tennis player to earn All-America status in school history.
The grueling match on Friday, which featured several long rallies, came down to the wire in the second set. With Will serving, Tere-Apisah faced two match points when the set score was 5-3 and down 40-15 in the game. The Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, native fought off two match points and eventually broke serve to narrow the gap to 5-4.
Down 5-4 but leading 40-30 in the next game, Tere-Apisah appeared to hold her serve with a backhand winner down the line. But a let was called late in the point and it was replayed. The game eventually went to deuce and Will was able to close out a victory on her third match point of the contest.
"I'm disappointed it ended like this, but I'm glad that I earned All-America [honors]," Tere-Apisah said, "Every game was close and I had my chances to get up, but never converted. It was a little frustrating."
In the first set, Will broke early to take a 2-1 lead in the set. But throughout the set, Tere-Apisah fought to several break points looking to narrow the deficit. In the next game following the early break, Tere-Apisah and Will went to deuce four times before Will was able to close out the game. Trailing 3-1, Tere-Apisah had game point on serve but lost the point and eventually double faulted to allow Will to break.
With the first set at 4-1, Will held a 40-0 advantage and looked to take a commanding lead. Tere-Apisah roared back to force the game to deuce and eventually held a break point. But Will, who owns a 20-2 overall record including a 16-2 mark against nationally-ranked opponents, fought back with two points to take the game. She closed the game and eventually took the set with a break.
"Sometimes I think I was a bit impatient, because the games were slow, I think I wanted to get the points over with," Tere-Apisah said, "I tried to stay aggressive and induce the high balls, so I could step in and take them early to stay aggressive. I didn't want to give her any chance to get back to the middle."
Tere-Apisah became the 21st All-America honoree in Georgia State history by advancing to the Round of 16. She is the first Georgia State tennis player on the men's or women's side to earn ITA All-America status.
"Overall, Abby played an outstanding tournament and she really prepared well over the past couple of weeks. I think we saw that she is capable of playing and competing with the best." fifth-year head coach Miha Lisac said. "I hope this tournament and this match is motivation for her this summer because I think her goals will be higher next year. I'm happy for her and proud of how she played, she went toe-to-toe with the top player in the nation. If she dedicates herself this summer, she will be back at nationals next year."
Lisac, Tere-Apisah and the rest of the women's tennis team now enter the offseason to prepare for fall tournaments beginning in August. Visit the women's tennis page on www.GeorgiaStateSports.com for a full spring recap as the team begins preparations for the 2012-13 season.