ATLANTA – After reaching the second round of the NCAA Team Championship, the Georgia State women’s tennis team posted its highest final ranking since 2009 as it jumped nine spots to No. 55 in the final ITA Division I National Team Rankings of 2014.
The Panthers ended the season among the top 75 teams in Division I for the fourth straight season and fifth time in six years. Georgia State’s highest final ranking in school history was at No. 46 following the 2009 campaign. GSU was also No. 56 in 2011, No. 69 in 2012 and No. 75 in 2013.
“I knew what we were capable of when the season started, but actually having those things come to fruition is pretty exciting,” interim head coach Robin Stephenson said. “It’s been a lot of fun just working with this group. We put a lot of hard work in, we set a lot of goals and achieved a lot of the goals we set. That’s why we do this, and it’s just fun to see the players getting better every day and coming closer together as a team and continuing to push through any sort of adversity. Anything we’ve been able to accomplish is just a testament to them and the hard work they’ve put in. It’s rewarding.”
Much of Georgia State’s success came at the hands of senior Abigail Tere-Apisah and junior Masa Grgan. The duo helped GSU to an upset of then-No. 31 Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the first postseason win in school history by a female team. Tennessee finished 2014 ranked No. 34 in the nation while Columbia, which was ranked No. 35 when the Panthers dropped the Lions earlier this spring, ended the year at No. 39.
Tere-Apisah became the first two-time female All-American in school history as she rolled to the national semifinals last week at the NCAA Singles Championship. She earned wins against players ranked Nos. 61, 23, 3 and 7 on her way to the highest finish by a Panther in NCAA play in school history. Together with Grgan, the Panther tandem also earned the first victory in the NCAA Doubles Championship in program history.
The Panthers lose the program’s most decorated player in Tere-Apisah along with fellow senior Maryna Kozachenko, but return a solid core in 2015 with Grgan, junior Chaimaa Roudami, sophomore Linn Timmermann, and freshmen Marcia Tere-Apisah and Tarani Kamoe, who combined to earn a spot in the doubles national rankings midway through the 2014 season.
Georgia State was the only Sun Belt Conference team to earn a spot in the final 2014 rankings. Final individual rankings for singles and doubles and team regional rankings will be released on June 4.