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Athlete of the Year: Abigail Tere-Apisah

Photo Courtesy: Georgia State Athletics Tere-Apisah is 96-24 in singles matches her four years playing for the Panthers.

Push pins of all colors are carefully scattered across a large map of the world. The map, displayed on the office wall of the women’s tennis interim Head Coach Robin Stephenson, contains pins that represents a specific player on the Panthers’ roster and her hometown in respect to the world.

Abigail Tere-Apisah looked over the map, pointing out which pin represents each of her teammates. Near the bottom right corner of the map, two pins are pushed as close together as they possibly can: Both in the city of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. One is purple. One is pink. Tere-Apisah wasn’t sure which represented her and which one represented her sister, Marcia, but she said it did not matter. And she’s right.

What matters is what has taken place on the other side of the map over the span of four years in Atlanta. Tere-Apisah has grown to be a dominant force on the Panthers’ women’s tennis roster, arguably the program’s all-time best. She has left her mark, not only at Georgia State, but in women’s tennis making her The Signal’s Athlete of the Year.

URGE Abortion
Photo Courtesy: Georgia State Athletics Tere-Apisah traveled nearly 9,000 miles to play tennis at Georgia State.
Photo Courtesy: Georgia State Athletics
Tere-Apisah traveled nearly 9,000 miles to play tennis at Georgia State.

Tere-Apisah has undoubtedly been the most dominant figure in Georgia State Sports this year, a year filled with several athletes that have seen success across an array of Georgia State’s sports.

Tere-Apisah has grown over the course of four years to become the No. 13 women’s tennis player in college tennis, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).

Her winning ways have also made her the winningest women’s tennis player in Georgia State history.

“I just never sit to think and be like, ‘Wow,'” Tere-Apisah said looking back on her accomplishments. “I don’t do that: sit down and think of all my accomplishments.”

Tere-Apisah has built quite the resume at Georgia State. She currently holds a 12-game winning streak, not losing a singles match in the current spring season, even against teams such as No. 12 Alabama or No. 19 Texas Tech.

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But this is nothing new. She holds a 96-24 singles record in her four years at Georgia State, most of which have been at the No. 1 spot on the lineup, and has been successful in doubles matches, as well.

Tere-Apisah began racking up awards after her first season in the program, winning the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Rookie of the Year. Since, she was awarded the 2012 CAA Player of the Year, 2013 Sun Belt Championship All-Tournament Team and 2013 Georgia State Student-Athlete of the Year. But this list does not even make a dent into her long list of accomplishments.

This year she is likely a top candidate for the Sun Belt’s Female Athlete and Athlete of the Year awards.

Tere-Apisah has defeated several of the county’s top women’s collegiate tennis players in her four-year tenure at Georgia State, including Zsofi Susanyi from California University, who was ranked No. 4 at the time. Tere-Apisah said defeating Susanyi was not only one of the best memories in her collegiate career, but a turning point in it.

“[That] match, I went in with a different mindset: I just gotta go; there’s nothing to lose; there’s no pressure on me. So, that match was one where I thought where I played really well,” Tere-Aspisah said, explaining that it changed her mindset going into matches from that day forward.

Tere-Apisah is one of the most humble athletes one could ever meet. Tere-Apisah is not one to talk about her accomplishments, and she reiterated—with her quiet complexion—it’s not something she really likes to think about until pesky interviewers or coaches remind her.

Photo Courtesy: Georgia State Athletics Tere-Apisah is 96-24 in singles matches her four years playing for the Panthers.
Photo Courtesy: Georgia State Athletics
Tere-Apisah is 96-24 in singles matches her four years playing for the Panthers.

The health and physical education major would much rather talk about her hometown. It takes endless hours and a couple layovers for Tere-Apisah to make it Port Mosby, a trip she said she only makes about once every two years, to see her family and, for once, go home.

“Tennis is not a huge sport at all. Tennis in the islands is just for fun,” she said. “It’s like a social thing.”

Tere-Apisah described her country as “laid-back,” and said tennis courts are not ubiquitous there like in America, where one cannot drive into a residential neighborhood without seeing several.

“We just have one national tennis club [in my hometown],” she said. “That’s where I practiced and trained, and it was a pretty decent one.”

Tere-Apisah said other courts in the country are made of synthetic grass because the weather is too unbearably hot to play on hard surfaces.

Tere-Apisah’s parents were her original coaches, taking her to the tennis club and teaching her the sport until she left home around age 10 to further her education. Tere-Apisah would come across other coaches from time to time who would make her the competitor she is today.

When coming to Georgia State for the first time, no sooner had she met her new coach, former Head Coach Miha Lisac, than he took her grocery shopping—an atypical first drill with a new coach.

“I didn’t know I had to get all room stuff,” Tere-Apisah said, reminiscing on her first days in the city and how turned around she would get just trying to get from class to class surrounded by overwhelmingly tall buildings.

Yet, four years have swiftly flown by, and Tere-Apisah has a little less than a month remaining in her final season in women’s collegiate tennis. Then, she will try to get in the professional circuit touring the world and continue to play the game that has carried her across the world and through life.

Tere-Apisah said she is proud of this season’s team that has faced many tough nationally ranked teams and is proud of her teammates improvement. The team currently manages an 8-7 record.

“I’m thankful that I’m on this team. For being my last semester, I couldn’t have asked for any other team,” she said.

There will be a void left at Georgia State when Tere-Apisah moves on to bigger and better things.

In time, one of the pins over Papau New Guinea will be removed from the world map in Stephenson’s office. But, the mark Tere-Apisah left halfway across the world will never be forgotten, as she will be a remembered name in Georgia State history.

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