NORFOLK, Va. – There were a few less fingernails, but in the end it was all worth it for the VCU women's tennis team.
In a back-and-forth match that lasted nearly five hours, the top-seeded Rams outlasted third-seeded Georgia State, 4-3, to win the Black & Gold's fourth CAA title on the women's side.
The Panthers took an early 1-0 lead in the match after claiming the doubles point. VCU's No. 3 tandem of Salome Kvitashvili and Alena Gerasimova rolled past Masa Grgan and Chaimaa Roudami, 8-1, but the Panthers won the other two spots. At No. 1, GSU's Abigail Tere-Apisah and Tereza Lerova topped Alex Bara (pictured, right) and Ana Bara, 8-2 and the Panthers' No. 2 duo of Maryna Kozachenko and Whitney Byrd beat Olga Terteac and Daria Yakauleva, 8-4.
In singles, the teams split at the top two positions. VCU picked up a win at No. 2 as Alex Bara beat Lerova, 6-3, 6-1, but Tere-Apisah, the CAA Player of the Year, was a 6-0, 7-5 winner over Ana Bara at No. 1.
The Rams pulled ahead 3-2 in the match when Kvitashvili defeated Grgan, 7-5, 6-4, at No. 5 and Josefin Hjertquist rallied for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Roudami at No. 6.
The final two singles matches featured tiebreakers. At No. 3, GSU's Byrd pulled out a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) win over Terteac that evened the competition at 3-3. The title was decided at No. 4, when Gerasimova (pictured, right) won a three-set thriller over the Panthers' Maryna Kozachenko, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.
VCU will now have nearly a month before learning their NCAA fate with the NCAA Tournament set to kick off on May 11th. It will be the program's 13th NCAA Tournament appearance.
#1 VCU 4, #3 Georgia State 3
#1 Abigail Tere-Apisah (GSU) d. Ana Bara (VCU), 6-0, 7-5
#2 Alex Bara (VCU) d. Tereza Lerova (GSU), 6-3, 6-1
#3 Whitney Byrd (GSU) d. Olga Terteac (VCU), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4)
#4 Alena Gerasimova (VCU) d. Maryna Kozachenko (GSU), 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2
#5 Salome Kvitashvili (VCU) d. Masa Grgan (GSU), 7-5, 6-4
#6 Josefin Hjertquist (VCU) d. Chaimaa Roudami (GSU), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 5, 6, 3, 4
#1 Tere-Apisah/Lerova (GSU) d. Bara/Bara (VCU), 8-2
#2 Kozachenko/Byrd (GSU) d. Terteac/Daria Yakauleva, 8-4
#3 Kvitashvili/Gerasimova (VCU) d. Grgan/Roudami (GSU), 8-1
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2