ATLANTA--Coming off a
landmark season the Georgia State women's tennis team is poised for success in
its first season in the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.
State earned many accomplishments last year with junior Abigail Tere-Apisah
breaking onto the national stage as the program's first ITA All-American. As a
team, the Panthers played one of their toughest schedules in program history
and went 11-7 with their third trip to the conference finals in the last four
expectations rise in 2013 with the jump to the Sun Belt Conference as the No.
70-ranked Panthers, led by sixth-year head coach Miha Lisac, are the second highest
ranked team in the conference. GSU competes in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend for a
second-consecutive year and for the first time ever begins the season with a
team national ranking, one singles player nationally ranked (Tere-Apisah, #29)
and a doubles team nationally ranked (Tere-Apisah & Masa Grgan, #19).
returns five starters from last season, including CAA Player of the Year
Tere-Apisah, All-CAA Second Team Singles honoree Whitney Byrd and an All-CAA
First Team Doubles pairing of Byrd and senior Maryna Kozachenko. Three newcomers
join the team this season to add depth to an experienced and successful lineup.
exciting to be preparing for the start of the spring season, we worked hard
during the fall to prepare for this year," Lisac said, "We are continuing to
take steps forward as a program and we are looking forward to the challenging
schedule this spring starting with a very talented Syracuse team next Saturday."
lineup begins with the acclaimed Tere-Apisah who earned numerous accolades in
one of the best individual seasons in school history last year. Beyond earning
ITA All-American honors by advancing to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Singles
Championship, Tere-Apisah was the ITA Southeast Region Player to Watch, CAA
Player of the Year and All-CAA First Team Singles. She finished the season with
a national ranking of No. 38 and begins this year ranked No. 29.
bumped up her ranking with stellar play at prestigious tournaments in the fall
season. She won two matches against No. 29-ranked Ecaterina Vasenina (USF) and
No. 94 Elizabeth Kilborn (Ga. Tech) at the Southern Shootout, hosted by Georgia
State. She then defeated No. 20-ranked Aeriel Ellis (Texas) in the consolation
round at the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships in Pacific
Palisades, Calif. on Oct. 4. After that she advanced to the semifinals at the ITA
Southeast Regional Championships, one of the toughest regions for women's
tennis in the country. To close her fall, Tere-Apisah won her first-round match
at the prestigious USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships at
the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
continues to progress as a player and has cemented herself as one of the top 30
players in the nation," Lisac said. "Even though she has had success already
Abby has not reached her potential yet. I believe that Abby's best tennis is
ahead of her and she will continue to progress as a tennis player and a
the departure of the graduated Tereza Lerova, GSU must fill a void at the No. 2
singles position. Three notable candidates are seniors Whitney Byrd and Maryna
Kozachenko and sophomore Masa Grgan, who are all coming off strong spring and
fall seasons. Byrd, an All-CAA award winner last spring, went 12-6 last year
including 9-4 in the No. 3 slot. Kozachenko rotated between the No. 3 and 4
positions to earn six wins and clinch three GSU victories. Grgan is coming off
a stellar rookie season where she went 10-6 in the No. 4 and 5 positions.
Whitney, and Maryna have had a good year of work thus far and I believe it will
transfer over to the spring season," Lisac said, "We are taking a team approach
in general but especially in singles this season. It doesn't matter whether a
player is in the lineup for a particular match or which position she is
playing, we are all working together as a group."
Chaimaa Roudami returns this season after she also put together a stellar
rookie campaign at GSU. The Casablanca, Morocco, native went 13-5 to finish
second on the team in singles victories. The Panthers will also look to
newcomers Jocelyn Ffriend and Linn Timmermann to provide depth this season.
Ffriend joined GSU as a transfer from North Carolina prior to the fall and went
5-1 in singles play. Timmermann is a highly-regarded freshman that led the team
with an 11-4 mark in the fall including a trip to the consolation final at the
had a good season for the team last year and I don't see anything changing this
spring," Lisac said. "Linn and Jocelyn have been very solid additions for our
program. They are two of the hardest workers we have and I am looking forward
to having them contribute this spring when we continue to prepare to take the program
onto the national stage."
staple of the GSU program under Lisac is strong doubles play. The Panthers
struggled to find consistent success at the onset of last season but caught
fire late by winning six of their final nine possible doubles points.
State leads with the formidable pairing of Tere-Apisah and Grgan. The two
earned a No. 19 national ranking by defeating two nationally-ranked opponents
in the fall. They knocked off No. 24-ranked Ecaterina Vasenina and Loreto
Alonso of USF 8-3 at the Southern Shootout before winning an 8-6 match against
No. 50-ranked Maho Kowase and Lilly Kimbell of Georgia at the ITA Regionals.
They lost just one doubles match in the fall to the current No. 15-ranked pair
in the nation.
and Masa have clicked from the first time they played together in practice,"
Lisac said, "I think they can continue to mature as a team and lead the team in
doubles. Their biggest contribution will be continuing the play the way they
did in the fall."
Panthers have flexibility with their final two doubles spots. They can reunite
the likes of Byrd and Kozachenko, an All-CAA First Team pair last year, or
split them up between the No. 2 and 3 slots. Ffriend brings a strong doubles
game to GSU after she achieved a No. 28 doubles ranking during her time at UNC.
GSU can also count on strong doubles play from Roudami and Timmermann, who will
each compete for spots in the doubles lineup.
have played good some good doubles during the fall and have flexibility as far
as doubles pairings," Lisac said, "I believe that we are mature enough as a
team to form different doubles combinations that can be successful, but we are
most concerned about having a strong lineup overall and competing at every
a second-consecutive season, Georgia State is slated to play one of its
toughest schedules in program history. This year's schedule features 12 matches
against teams that are nationally ranked in the preseason, including three of
those matches at home.
70th-ranked Panthers start the 2013 season with a showdown against
No. 70 Syracuse next Saturday (11 a.m.). The match will be played on the indoor
courts at the newly-built Georgia Tech Tennis Center. GSU then follows that up
with the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Athens, Ga., where it is scheduled to play No.
40 Oklahoma State and either No. 6 Georgia or No. 73 Columbia.
Panthers begin February with a match against No. 20-ranked Illinois on Feb. 2
at the Standard Club (10 a.m.). Next is a string of tough road matches at No.
69 Auburn (Feb. 9), at No. 38 Florida State (Feb. 17) and at No. 30 Georgia
Tech (Feb. 21).
then hosts three matches, including one against local-rival Kennesaw State on
Mar. 1 (2 p.m.). GSU will also host its first annual VolleyFest Supporting
Women's Cancer Care event in partnership with The Sport of Giving on Mar. 3 vs.
No. 55-ranked Tulane (9 a.m.). The event will be an opportunity for
participants to join the effort in the fight against women's cancer in the
Atlanta area and to also get on the courts and compete in a variety of tennis
Panthers finish the season with seven road matches including four against
nationally-ranked foes. GSU will compete in the Sun Belt Championships in
Lafayette, La., beginning on Apr. 18.
of our long-term goals is to continue to improve our national ranking, and to
do so we have to compete against the top teams in the country," Lisac said. "Our
spring schedule is very challenging from the very beginning with Syracuse
coming to Atlanta for our first dual match and then making a trip to Athens for
the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Our focus is on how we answer the challenges of a
tough schedule and how we maintain our hunger and focus against tough
competition throughout the season."
is in the midst of preseason preparations for its match next Saturday vs.
Syracuse. Visit the women's tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com for a preview
of the match and check back all season for the latest news on the women's