SAVANNAH, GA – Francis Marion University senior Kevin Taylor captured the Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Mid-Atlantic Region singles title on Monday (Oct. 3) with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Diego Sist of USC Upstate. Taylor is the first FMU men’s player to win an ITA regional title.
The regional, which began on Friday and featured 64 players in the main men’s singles competition, was hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.
Taylor, a native of Benoni, South Africa, entered the tournament as the top seed and dropped only two sets in his six matches. He advances to the 2005 ITA Small College National Championships, Oct. 13-16, in Ft. Myers, Fla.
"I played through most of the summer in tournaments, and that commitment has paid off," Taylor said. Entering Monday’s match, Taylor was 0-2 against Sist. "I played more aggressively against him this time," Taylor added. "I put the pressure on him. Every short ball I tried to put away."
En route to Monday’s championship match, he defeated Emmanuel Padron of Erskine College 6-1, 6-3; Carlos Sanches of Anderson College 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Robert Jendelund of AASU 6-4, 6-3; Erick Siqueira of Georgia College & State University 6-3, 6-2; and Phillippe Magat of Anderson 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
Francis Marion head coach Garth Thomson echoed Taylor comments, saying "Kevin has worked very hard on his game, and it paid off. Although he was seeded No.1, he still had to go out and win each match and prove his worth on the court. I am very excited for Kevin. Only good things for Kevin and the Patriot program can come out of this achievement."
Last spring as a junior, Taylor occupied the No. 1 singles position for FMU, was ranked 12th among Division II singles players, and compiled a 19-3 record, including an amazing 11-0 mark against Top 50 opponents. Following the season, he was named the 2005 Mid-Atlantic Region’s "Player to Watch" by the ITA.
The previous best showing for a Patriot men’s tennis player in the ITA regional came in 1994 when Sam Lundkvist reached the regional singles title match. On two other occasions, FMU players reached the singles semifinals.