Overall Record: 8-11 (12 Nationally-Ranked opponents)

Final Team ITA Ranking: #75

Highest ITA Ranking: #38, Feb. 26

NCAA Singles Championship Appearance: Abigail Tere-Apisah, Junior (Second in school history)

NCAA Doubles Championship Appearance: Abigail Tere-Apisah, Junior, and Masa Grgan, Sophomore (First in school history)

Sun Belt Championship: L, 2-4 vs. #60 North Texas (First Sun Belt title in school history)

Sun Belt Championship All-Tournament Team: Abigail Tere-Apisah, Junior and Linn Timmermann, Freshman

All-Sun Belt First Team Singles: Abigail Tere-Apisah (14-5 Singles record)

All-Sun Belt First Team Doubles: Abigail Tere-Apisah and Masa Grgan (14-3 Doubles record)

UTSA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Participant: Abigail Tere-Apisah (First in school history)

Riviera/ITA All-American Championships Participant: Abigail Tere-Apisah (First in school history)

ITA Southeast Regional Runner-Up: Abigail Tere-Apisah and Masa Grgan (Doubles)

ATLANTA—The Georgia State University women’s tennis program achieved success in its first year as part of the Sun Belt Conference and notched a program first by sending a doubles pair to the NCAA Doubles Championship during a successful 2012-13 season.

GSU faced its most difficult schedule in program history by taking on 12 nationally-ranked opponents, including nine on the road, and managed to earn a respectable 8-11 record. The Panthers once again were prominent on the national stage as junior Abigail Tere-Apisah earned her second-straight bid to the NCAA Singles Championship. This season, however, GSU made history by earning its first-ever NCAA Doubles Championship bid with Tere-Apisah and sophomore Masa Grgan representing the Panthers in the event.

Georgia State narrowly missed earning its first NCAA Championship bid as a team since 2009 by two points after it fell in the Sun Belt Championship Finals to No. 60 North Texas. The narrow 4-2 loss represented Georgia State’s third-consecutive trip to the conference tournament finals as the team finds consistent success year after year under head coach Miha Lisac. In his sixth year leading the program, Georgia State is primed to jump into the national spotlight following back-to-back seasons competing in national tournaments.

“It was well deserved for Abigial and Masa to represent us at the individual and doubles nationals. These are important steps in our program as we continue to build a program on a national level. Furthermore, it is an important recognition for Abigial and Masa individually for the outstanding seasons they have had and the work they put it throughout the year to prepare and earn the right to be at nationals.”

Grgan and Tere-Apisah’s presence at the 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship came as no surprise. The two owned a 14-2 record heading into the tournament and were 3-1 vs. nationally-ranked doubles pairings. This included a victory against the No.5-ranked tandem in the nation, Maria Belaya and Jeltje Loomans of William & Mary, on Apr. 5. Their two other nationally-ranked wins came in the fall season, against Georgia’s No. 50-ranked duo of Maho Kowase and Lilly Kimbell and USF’s No. 24-ranked tandem of Ecaterina Vasenina and Loreto Alonso.

Grgan and Tere-Apisah entered the NCAA Doubles Championship ranked No. 34 in the ITA National Doubles rankings. In the first round the top Panthers doubles duo drew the top pair from the University of Nebraska, Patricia Veresova and Mary Weatherholt, who entered the tournament ranked No. 3 in the nation. GSU fought back despite losing the first set to win the second set 7-5 and enter the deciding third set. The match went wire-to-wire as the teams entered a third-set tiebreaker to decide the contest. In the tiebreaker, Grgan and Tere-Apisah fought off two match points, but just came up shy and fell 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6) in the first round.

Tere-Apisah earned a first-round matchup with No. 49-ranked Zoe De Bruycker of North Carolina, a senior coming off a 15-9 season in the ACC at the No. 2 spot. Tere-Apisah fought windy conditions throughout the entire match and fell behind by a set early. But the junior from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, roared back and took a 5-4 lead in the second set. But the match was stopped at that point and delayed 30 minutes due to rain. When play resumed indoors, Tere-Apisah dropped three straight games to fall in the match.

“Abigial had a tough draw this year and played a tough opponent right off the bat. I felt that she had a good game plan going into the match and was able to outplay her opponent during stretches of the match. Zoe is a tough player though and managed to stage a comeback in the second set to take the set 7-5 and close out the match. It would have been very interesting to see how the match would have went in the third set.”

“Abigail and Masa came back the following day to take on a tough team from Nebraska. The match was one of the best doubles matches I have seen all year long; and Abby and Masa have been in some doubles battles even during the regular season. Both teams played well and the Nebraska team was a little more consistent and aggressive at the end of the third set to take the match 7-6. I am really looking forward to Abby and Masa continuing to play at the top level in college and playing at national tournaments next year. They can become one of the top tandems in college tennis.”

The Panthers’ exciting season started off with a major upset as the team knocked off No. 40-ranked Oklahoma State behind Jocelyn Ffriend’s match-clinching win. GSU earned the win at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, which it participated in for the second year and the second time in program history. Following two victories, Georgia State tied its program high by jumping to No. 38 in the ITA National Team rankings on Feb. 28. The rankings were the first to factor in computer rankings which gave Georgia State high marks after competing against several top-ranked opponents.

Georgia State entered the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Women’s Tennis Championship as the No. 2 seed, earning a first-round bye in the process. The Panthers scrapped to a 4-3 win in the opening round against Louisiana-Monroe to begin the tournament. GSU bounced back with an efficient 4-0 win against MTSU in the semifinals to set up a showdown with No. 60 North Texas for the Sun Belt title. The Panthers dropped the doubles point, but rebounded with wins from Tere-Apisah and freshman Linn Timmermann in the No. 4 singles slot. GSU could not rally from being down 3-2 and fell in the conference finals.

Several student-athletes shined in the team’s first year in the Sun Belt Conference. Tere-Apisah took home All-Sun Belt First Team Singles honors and teamed with Grgan to earn All-Sun Belt First Team Doubles laurels. Tere-Apisah and Timmermann were named to the Sun Belt Championship All-Tournament Team. Timmermann was stellar in her rookie year as she won eight matches while senior Whitney Byrd stepped into the No. 3 spot to win seven matches. Byrd notched a career first by defeating No. 45-ranked Beatrice Gumulya (Clemson) in straight sets for her first nationally-ranked win. Junior Maryna Kozachenko delivered a 6-3 record including important match-clinching singles wins.

“Results wise, the highlights of our season would be our play in the first round of nationals indoors. Against Oklahoma State, we played the most complete match of the season and pulled out a 4-3 win against a top notch opponent. It is also important to note that this was the first time we qualified into the round of 32 at national tournament; definitely a step that we are looking to build upon next year.”

The Panthers return five of their top six singles players from last season. Visit the women’s tennis page throughout the offseason for updates on new signees and the announcement of the fall schedule.