NCAA women's tennis: Cal's Chi wins 3-set battle to advance to finals

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California

Cal’s Lynn Chi defeated Georgia State’s Abigail Tere-Apisah in a third-set tiebreaker, winning 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) to advance to the finals of the NCAA women’s tennis singles championship in Athens, Ga. Chi will face Virginia’s Danielle Collins for a shot at giving the Pac-12 its fourth consecutive NCAA women’s singles champion.

Chi, a sophomore from Florida, quickly grabbed the reins in the first set by breaking Tere-Apisah three times to take a 5-2 lead. While Tere-Apisah was able to break Chi back and then win a game on her own serve to cut it to 5-4, the Golden Bear regained control on her next serve, taking the net to force Tere-Apisah into an errant shot at set point.

As the result indicates, this one was far from over. It was also far from predictable, as the second set featured seven breaks in the nine-game stanza. Both of the set’s holds were from Tere-Apisah, who is believed to be the first NCAA athlete from Papua New Guinea. Chi had her chances, including a game point on her service early in the set, but was unable to finish the deal in two.

As Tere-Apisah got back into the match, so did the crowd, which was rooting heavily for the Georgia State Panther (Georgia State’s campus is a 71.4-mile drive away from the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, according to Google Maps). Already in the Georgia State record books for a number of accomplishments including being the Panther to go the deepest in any NCAA postseason competition in any sport, Tere-Apisah stormed back from a 3-0 third-set deficit to go up 5-4 and serve for the match. That’s when Lynnsanity kicked in to full gear, as Chi broke Tere-Apisah twice down 5-4 and 6-5 to stave off elimination and send it to a tiebreaker.

Chi was in command of the third-set tiebreaker nearly the whole way; Tere-Apisah erased a 2-0 deficit with two straight points of her own, but Chi ripped off the final five tiebreaker tallies and clinched it on a shot deep in the corner that Tere-Apisah could not return.

#Lynning.

The Memorial Day final between Chi and Danielle Collins will feature two unseeded sophomores from Florida. In addition to the last three women’s singles champions coming from the Pac-12 (Cal’s Jana Juricova in 2011 and Stanford’s Nicole Gibbs in 2012 and 2013), this will be the fifth straight year that the Pac-12 has a player in the NCAA women’s singles finals (Juricova lost to Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson in the 2010 finals).

Collins defeated Duke’s Ester Goldfeld 6-3, 7-6(3) in the other semifinal on Sunday.

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