NEW ORLEANS - The top-seeded Georgia State women's tennis team defeated the No. 3-seed South Alabama 4-1 in the final of the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Championship. Sophomore Linn Timmermann clinched the match with her three-set win.
This is the first Sun Belt women's tennis title for Georgia State. The Panthers fell in the final last season. Georgia State's last conference championship and NCAA bid in women's tennis was in 2009.
The top-seeded Panthers got off to hot start, winning two of their three doubles matches. The No. 20-nationally ranked pair of Masa Grgan and Abigail Tere-Apisah got the first win with an 8-2 win over Emily Newton and Laura Matuskova. At No. 2 doubles, Marica Tere-Apisah and Tarani Kamoe clinched the doubles point with their 8-6 win over Monica Mitta and Michaela Meszarosova.
In singles, No. 20 Abigail Tere-Apisah made quick work of Meszarosova, winning 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 singles. Marcia Tere-Apisah gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead with her 6-3, 6-3 win over Mitta at No. 4 singles.
Timmermann was halfway through her first set when the match was at 3-1. She broke Newton at 3-3 to go up 4-3 at the changeover. Timmermann then held serve to make it 5-3. With Newton serving, she had two match points at 15-40 and 30-40. Newton held on and got the point to duece. A few points later, Timmermann clinched the win and the championship for the Panthers.
"I am so incredibly proud of this group for their performance today and all tournament long," interim head coach and Sun Belt women's tennis Coach of the Year Robin Stephenson said. "We have prepared all year to be in the position we were in today and we handled adversity extremely well and fought through some nerves early. The fight and determination of this group is what pushed us through the finish line and these girls deserve this victory.
"As a coach I am just so proud to see all the hard work pay off and to see how far we have come over the course of the season. We have battled through some ups and downs but have continued to keep our eyes set on our ultimate goals and we are proud to say we have achieved our biggest goal of the season today by winning the conference title. We are excited to extend our season and represent Georgia State and the Sun Belt at NCAAs."
The Panthers will wait to see where they will go for the NCAA tournament until April 29, when the NCAA will announce the tournament in a selection show. On April 30, indviduals participating in the NCAA singles and NCAA doubles championships will be announced.