Lafayette, La.—Senior Whitney Byrd delivered a match-clinching 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win with the team score tied 3-all to send the Georgia State women’s tennis team to the Sun Belt Conference Championship semifinals on Friday.
Georgia State won the doubles point and junior Abigail Tere-Apisah and senior Maryna Kozachenko delivered quick key singles victories to put GSU up 3-0 early. Those wins set up the deciding point on the No. 3 court between Byrd and Louisiana Monroe sophomore Silvia Tumova. Byrd fell in the second set, but quickly broke serve and raced out to a 3-0 lead in the third set. She won a match on serve to take a 5-1 lead and then finished the victory with another break.
"I just kept telling myself to stay focused,” Byrd said. “I felt comfortable on the court at first until the wind really kicked in, but I was relaxed during the third set."
Tere-Apisah improved her singles record to 12-5 on the season after she won a 6-3, 6-2 match at the No. 1 position against Sophie Rufykiri. Tere-Apisah is ranked No. 41 in the ITA National Singles rankings and was an All-Sun Belt First Team Singles award winner on Wednesday. Kozachenko quickly followed with a 6-0, 6-2 victory in the No. 5 singles slot.
The Panthers took the doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and 3 matchups. First, the pairing of freshman Linn Timmermann and graduate student Jocelyn Ffriend won an 8-4 match in the No. 3 spot. It was the tandem’s first time playing together since Feb. 21.
The top-ranked pair of Tere-Apisah and sophomore Masa Grgan extended their winning streak to eight matches with an 8-4 victory at the No. 1 slot. The two are ranked No. 35 in the ITA National Doubles rankings and were All-Sun Belt First Team honorees at the Sun Belt Awards banquet held in the parking lot of Cajun Field on Wednesday night.
Georgia State advances to the Saturday morning semifinals to face the winner of the Friday’s match between third-seeded Troy and sixth-seeded MTSU The match will take place at the Bourgeois Hall tennis courts at 10 a.m. CT. Visit the women’s tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com for a full recap of the match following its completion.
Georgia State 4, ULM 3
1. #41 Abigail Tere-Apisah (GSU) def. Sophie Rufyikiri (ULM) 6-3, 6-2
2. Medy Blankvoort (ULM) def. Masa Grgan (GSU) 6-3, 6-0
3. Whitney Byrd (GSU) def. Silvia Tumova (ULM) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
4. Justyna Krol (ULM) def. Linn Timmermann (GSU) 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
5. Maryna Kozachenko (GSU) def. Iris Van Leeuwen (ULM) 6-0, 6-2
6. Petra Horakova (ULM) def. Jocelyn Ffriend (GSU) 6-3, 7-5
1. #35 Abigail Tere-Apisah/Masa Grgan (GSU) def. Petra Horakova/Silvia Tumova (ULM) 8-4
2. Whitney Byrd/Maryna Kozachenko (GSU) vs. Medy Blankvoort/Justyna Krol (ULM) 6-5, unfinished
3. Linn Timmermann/Jocelyn Ffriend (GSU) def. Sophie Rufyikiri/Iris Van Leeuwen (ULM) 8-4