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Kevin Epley

Kevin Epley

Kevin Epley, the 2019 ITA National Head Coach and SEC Coach of the Year, was named the women’s tennis coach at the University of South Carolina on June 11, 2012. In 19 seasons as a head coach, Epley owns a 327-159 (.673) record, 11 top-25 finishes and seven conference championships. His teams have reached the NCAA Tournament in every season, and 14 times they won at least one round. Epley’s squads have reached the NCAA round of 16 four times including three consecutive appearances in the round of 16 from 2017 to 2019, as well as a quarterfinal appearance in 2019. Additionally, Epley guided the Gamecocks to their first SEC Championship in school history in 2019 by winning the SEC Tournament in College Station, Texas. In 11 seasons with the Gamecocks, Epley has upheld a winning tradition while moving the program toward even greater heights with an influx of diverse players who are just as committed to helping South Carolina achieve at the highest level.

Before joining the Gamecocks, Epley spent the prior four years as a full-time traveling coach for WTA player Megan Moulton-Levy and her doubles partner, Lindsay Lee-Waters. It was not the first time, however, that Epley worked with players at the highest level in the world. He has also served as a personal traveling coach for Lindsay Davenport and Patty Schnyder, and was the head coach of the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis league. Epley was also an assistant for the U.S. Olympic team for the 2000 Sydney games and was an assistant for the U.S. Federation Cup team from 1997 to 2002. In both instances, he worked with tennis legend and close friend and mentor Billie Jean King. Epley has also been an instructor at the renowned Nick Bolliettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.

Epley’s distinct background of coaching at the collegiate level combined with his experience among the professional ranks has given him a unique blend of tennis knowledge. That knowledge has translated into the creation of a developmental program at South Carolina geared toward helping players who aspire to compete on the WTA. Since coming to Columbia, his practices and philosophy have paid dividends for the Gamecocks with a culture focused on energy, attitude and commitment.

After seeing the 2019-20 season canceled due to COVID-19, Epley guided the Gamecocks to their 26th NCAA Appearance in a row, which tied for the eighth longest active streak in the nation. South Carolina also earned its 30th NCAA bid in 39 chances, making it one of only 13 schools in the country with at least 30 appearances. His 2020-21 squad got off to a rough start that saw it 4-9 overall and 1-5 in the SEC after 13 matches, but Epley managed to help his team engineer an outstanding turnaround. The Gamecocks ran off six league victories in a row and finished with a 7-6 record in SEC play, their fifth winning record in the conference in a row to establish a new program record. The Gamecocks also advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals after upsetting No. 2-seeded Florida in the quarterfinals.

The 2018-19 season was perhaps the most successful in Carolina history. Not only did the team advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for just the third time in school history, Epley led the Gamecocks to their first SEC Championship in program history. On the way to the title, South Carolina toppled Florida, Vanderbilt and No. 1-ranked Georgia, becoming just the fourth school in the Southeastern Conference to win the tournament. The Gamecocks’ 23-4 record marked their third season in a row with 20 or more wins, a first in school history, and their 12-1 SEC mark set a record for conference victories.

In the rankings, South Carolina catapulted as high as No. 3 in the ITA poll, earning its highest-ever ranking on April 2, 2019. At the end of the season, Carolina achieved another program-best, finishing at No. 5. In singles, Ingrid Martins held steady throughout the second half of the season at No. 4, becoming the program’s highest-ranked individual in school history. Mia Horvit and Martins topped the doubles chart twice in season and ended the year in the No. 1 spot, another program milestone.

Epley coached Martins to three ITA awards, including ITA National Senior Player of the Year, ITA Carolina Region Senior Player of the Year and ITA Carolina Region Most Improved Senior. She also earned the title of SEC Player of the Year and was the SEC Tournament MVP, clinching the win for the Gamecocks. Also elected to the SEC All-Tournament team was Paige Cline. Being honored for their successful seasons, Cline, Horvit and Martins were all named first-team All-SEC, earned automatic bids to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, and garnered All-America status (Cline: singles; Horvit: doubles; Martins: singles and doubles). At the NCAA Doubles Championship, Horvit and Martins advanced to the semifinals, becoming just the second duo to do so in program history.

The success in 2019 was not much of a surprise given what the team accomplished in 2018. South Carolina returned to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 for the second-straight season and narrowly missed the quarterfinals after suffering a 4-3 loss to Georgia. Carolina finished the season ranked as the No. 12 team in the nation and also cracked the top five for the first time in school history when it climbed to the No. 5 spot on April 3, 2018. Finishing with a 21-7 mark on the season, South Carolina notched consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins for the first time since 1982 and 1983. The Gamecocks finished tied for second in the regular-season SEC standings after tallying an 11-2 record.

Under Epley, five singles players and six doubles teams were ranked at some point during the 2018 season. Horvit, Martins and Hadley Berg all broke the top-35 at Nos. 26, 28 and 31, respectively. In doubles, Berg and Cline began the season as the No. 7-ranked duo, the highest ranking for the Gamecock doubles team in over 15 years. Berg also earned the ITA Carolina Region Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and the Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship, as well as being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 First Team. She notched a place on the All-SEC First Team, while Martins and Horvit were second-team honorees.

Epley earned ITA Carolina Region Coach of the Year after guiding the program to a successful season in 2016-17 that saw them reach the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 for the first time since 2009. The Gamecocks finished the campaign ranked 15th nationally by the ITA, their highest since 1999, and posted the program’s first 20-win season since 1995 with a 20-9 overall record. The successful regular season included a 7-0 sweep over in-state rival Clemson and an 8-5 record in the SEC. Horvit and Martins finished the season ranked nationally in singles at Nos. 46 and 48, respectively, while the doubles tandem of Berg and Cline finished at No. 27. Under Epley’s direction, both Horvit and Martins advanced to the round of 32 of the NCAA Singles Championship, marking just the second time in school history two Gamecocks advanced beyond the first round in the same year. Horvit went on to the round of 16 to become South Carolina’s second singles All-American and first since 1983. She was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team and the All-SEC Second Team.

In 2015-16, the Gamecocks began marking their move as a national contender when they jumped out to a 14-2 start under Epley, including a pair of top-10 wins that helped vault them to their first top-10 ranking since 1983 at No. 8. South Carolina was selected to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Sporting two freshmen in the top half of the lineup, Epley’s group finished with 19 wins and won nine SEC matches, tying a school record at the time for league victories. Epley’s approach to doubles helped a pair of underclassmen shine as Berg and Cline went on to capture South Carolina’s first All-America honors since 1994, powering past a pair of top-10 tandems in the NCAA Doubles Championship on their way to the quarterfinals. Caroline Dailey also earned an NCAA Singles Championship invite, while Martins was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Under Epley’s tutelage, South Carolina led the SEC in Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week awards, collecting a combined six.

During his first three years with the Gamecocks, Epley’s squads showed steady improvement each season. His first team in 2012-13 just missed reaching the the second round of the NCAA Tournament en route to a 13-12 record and No. 34 final ranking. The team improved to 17-11 in his second season and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament while posting a final ranking of 26th. In 2014-15, the Gamecocks once again reached the second round of NCAA play and nearly upset Virginia on the Cavaliers’ home courts.

Epley returned to the collegiate coaching ranks for the first time since 2008 when he took the South Carolina job after spending four years on the tour with Moulton-Levy and Lee-Waters. As a collegiate head coach from 2000 to 2008, he posted a 151-59 (.719) record in eight seasons between Fresno State and William & Mary while mentoring nine players to 18 All-America citations and five players to eight conference player of the year awards.

Before his stint on the WTA, Epley served as the head coach of the women’s program at William & Mary from 2003 to 2008. In his five seasons with the Tribe, Epley led the squad to a 96-40 (.706) record, including four Colonial Athletic Association Championships and five NCAA Tournament appearances. His teams finished among the ITA’s top 25 three times, including a No. 15 ranking in 2007. On four occasions, he was named the CAA Coach of the Year and in 2008 he garnered the Wilson/ITA East Region Coach of the Year award. In total, five William & Mary players competed in singles and doubles at the NCAA Championships and earned 11 All-America honors over his five seasons. On 21 occasions during Epley’s tenure, a Tribe player garnered All-CAA singles honors, while doubles teams received 11 all-league nods.

Epley’s 2006-07 William & Mary squad enjoyed a great deal of success despite having five freshmen on its roster. A recruiting class that entered the season ranked No. 2 by, the Tribe opened the season with an 11-0 record. In just its fourth match of the season, the young W&M team stunned the college tennis world with a 4-3 victory over No. 1 Georgia Tech, a team that went on to win the national championship. The squad climbed as high as No. 9 in the rankings and ended the season with a 22-3 (.880) record after appearing in the NCAA Sweet 16.

The 2006-07 season also provided W&M’s second individual national championship, as the duo of Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic claimed the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Doubles Championship in November. They were also NCAA finalists during the outdoor season. Moulton-Levy graduated from the College as a six-time All-American, a four-time CAA Player of the Year and a two-time winner of the ITA National Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.

In just his second season with William & Mary, Epley guided his team to one of the top rankings in school history when it ascended to No. 6 in March 2005. The Tribe began the season with a 10-1 mark, posting an impressive 4-3 victory at No. 5 Duke and a dominant 6-1 win over No. 16 Clemson along the way. The team maintained a top-20 ranking the remainder of the season after cracking the top 10 and finished No. 20 after advancing to the second round of NCAA play.

Prior to his stint in Williamsburg, Va., Epley served as the women’s head coach at Fresno State from 2000 to 2003. In his three seasons with the Bulldogs, he compiled a 55-19 (.743) record, coached four players to seven All-America honors and had the top-ranked doubles team in the country, the first of three No.1-ranked doubles teams he has mentored. He led his team to two WAC championships and was a two-time WAC Coach of the Year recipient. In all three seasons at Fresno, his teams posted top-25 finishes, including a No. 14 ranking in his first year.

Epley is a 1996 graduate of Southern Methodist University where he was an All-Southwestern Conference performer as a senior. He began his collegiate coaching career with a pair of one-year stays as an assistant coach at Alabama (1998-99) and Arizona (1999-2000) before taking his first head coaching position at Fresno State.

Kevin Epley Year-by-Year

Year School Wins (SEC) Losses (SEC) Pct. (SEC) Ranking Conf. Finish NCAA Finish
2000-01 Fresno State 21 5 .808 14th 2nd Round of 32
2001-02 Fresno State 17 6 .739 25th 1st Round of 32
2002-03 Fresno State 17 8 .680 20th 1st Round of 32
2003-04 William & Mary 20 13 .606 35th 1st Round of 32
2004-05 William & Mary 20 6 .769 20th 1st Round of 32
2005-06 William & Mary 16 9 .640 27th 2nd Round of 64
2006-07 William & Mary 22 3 .880 15th 1st Round of 16
2007-08 William & Mary 18 9 .667 21st 1st Round of 32
2012-13 South Carolina 13 (6) 12 (7) .520 (.462) 34th 5th East Round of 64
2013-14 South Carolina 17 (6) 11 (7) .607 (.462) 26th T-6th Round of 32
2014-15 South Carolina 15 (6) 11 (7) .577 (.462) 29th T-7th Round of 32
2015-16 South Carolina 19 (9) 8 (4) .701 (.692) 17th T-4th Round of 32
2016-17 South Carolina 20 (8) 9 (5) .690 (.615) 15th 4th Round of 16
2017-18 South Carolina 21 (11) 7 (2) .750 (.846) 12th T-2nd Round of 16
2018-19 South Carolina 23 (12) 4 (1) .852 (.923) 5th 2nd (Tournament Champions) Quarterfinals
2019-20* South Carolina 8 (4) 4 (0) .667 (1.000) 19th N/A N/A
2020-21 South Carolina 12 (7) 12 (6) .500 (.538) 26th T-6th Round of 64
2021-22 South Carolina 15 (8) 11 (5) .577 (.615) 28th T-5th Round of 32
2022-23 South Carolina 13 (8) 11 (5) .542 (.615) 33rd T-5th Round of 64
Total 3 Schools 327(85) 159(49) .673 (.634) 11 Top 25 7 Championships 18 NCAAs

* The spring 2020 season was suspended and later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No conference or NCAA championships were held. The team’s ranking reflects the last set of rankings the ITA published on March 10, 2020.