Leaving a Legacy
While All-American tennis player Abigail Tere-Apisah preps for the pros, her little sister, Marcia, is ready to make her mark
Abigail Tere-Apisah (B.S. ’14), Georgia State’s first two-time All-American tennis player and by far the most decorated female athlete in school history, hasn’t quite settled in to her new life as an aspiring professional tennis player.
“I love competing with the team, and I will miss that,” she says. Forgive her for harkening back to her glory days so soon. For the native of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea — almost 9,000 miles from Atlanta — the women on the Georgia State tennis team are like family. She enjoyed her experience here so much she encouraged her little sister, Marcia, to become a Panther. Marcia just wrapped up her first season on the team.
The elder Tere-Apisah finished her remarkable college career with a historic run in the NCAA Tournament where she fell just one win short of playing for the national title. By playing in the national semifinals, Georgia State’s second two-time All-American recorded the highest NCAA postseason finish by a Panther in school history.
Now, Tere-Apisah, the highest nationally ranked singles (No. 8) and doubles (No. 16) player in program history, is turning pro.
“She’ll have to play some smaller tournaments to get points to get invited into larger ones,” said her former coach, Robin Stephenson, who knows well the grind Tere-Apisah is up against. Stephenson is a former professional tennis player, and like Tere-Apisah, a former collegiate All- American.
“She’s going from being Top 10 in the country to starting from scratch,” Stephenson said. “But she’s got what it takes, that’s for sure.”
At age 10, Tere-Apisah left home for the Oceania Tennis Development Centre in Fiji where she lived, studied and practiced tennis. A few years later, she moved to the tiny town of Albury in New South Wales, Australia. There, she quickly established herself as a top junior player and American college coaches took notice. Despite being recruited by powerhouse tennis programs, Tere-Apisah picked Georgia State.
“It didn’t really matter to me if the school was top-ranked. I lived in a small country town in Australia — I wanted to be in a bigger city,” she said.
Marcia hopes to follow in her sister’s successful footsteps, and, in many ways, she already has. She, too, left home at age 10 for the same tennis academy in Fiji, and shows much of the same promise her big sister had at her age.
“We are excited about where her game can go,” Stephenson said.
Marcia teamed with fellow freshman Tarani Kamoe to rank No. 89 in the country on April 8, marking the first time in program history two doubles teams ranked at the same time. The other ranked team was her sister and Masa Grgan who came in at No. 19 that week. Marcia and Kamoe also beat the No. 2 doubles team in the country in the fall.
“It’s been exciting to be on the same team as Abby,” Marcia said. “She’s been the number one player on the team, so it makes you want to do better.
“But I want to be better than her,” she said, drawing a laugh from big sister.
“I feel like I’ve improved so much since I’ve been at Georgia State,” Abigail Tere-Apsiah said. “Being a senior in my last tournament, I just wanted to come out and play. If it meant stay out five hours on the court, I was willing to do that. But four years here at Georgia State, it’s been amazing. I’m truly going to miss it.”
Photos by Josh Meister