University of South Carolina
Kevin Epley, the 2019 ITA National Head Coach and SEC Coach of the Year, was named the women’s tennis head coach at the University of South Carolina on June 11, 2012. In 15 seasons as a head coach, Epley owns an impressive 279-121 (.698) record, 10 top-25 finishes and seven conference championships. His teams have reached the NCAA Tournament in each of those 15 years, and 13 times they have won at least one round, including back-to-back advances to the Sweet 16 in 2017 and 2018, as well as an Elite 8 appearance in 2019. In seven 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.
Prior to 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.
The 2018-19 season saw one of the most successful in Carolina history. Not only did the team advance to the Elite 8 at the NCAA Tournament, but Epley led the Gamecocks to their first SEC Championship in program history. On the way to the title, South Carolina topped Florida, Vanderbilt and No. 1-ranked Georgia, becoming just the fifth school in the Southeastern Conference to win the tournament. Prior to the title run, the Gamecocks took down Florida, 4-2, for the first time in 37 years.
In the rankings, South Carolina catapulted to No. 3 in the ITA poll, earning its highest-ever ranking. 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. Horvit and Martins topped the doubles chart twice in season and ended the year in the No. 1 spot.
Epley coached Ingrid 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, Paige Cline, Mia Horvit and Ingrid 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, Mia Horvit and Ingrid Martins advanced ot the semifinals, becoming just the second duo to do so in program history.
Not missing a beat, Epley led the Gamecocks to another historical season during the 2017-18 year. The Gamecocks returned to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the second-straight season, marking just the second back-to-back appearances in program history. In making its 24th NCAA appearance in a row, South Carolina earned the No. 10 seed, a program-best, and received a bid to host the first and second rounds for the third year straight year. Carolina finished the season ranked as the No. 12 team in the nation, tying its highest final ranking since 1999. The Gamecocks also climbed to the No. 5 spot in the team ITA poll on April 3, recording their highest ranking in school history. 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 T-2nd in the regular-season SEC standings after tallying an 11-2 record, their best since the 1996 team finished in the same spot.
Under Epley, five singles players and six doubles teams were ranked at some point during the season. Mia Horvit, Ingrid Martins and Hadley Berg all broke the top-35 at Nos. 26, 28 and 31, respectively. In doubles, Berg and Paige Cline began the season as the No. 7-ranked duo, the highest recognition for the Gamecocks since 2001-02. 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, the 2017 ITA Carolina Region Coach of the Year, guided the program to a successful season in 2016-17, leading the Gamecocks to their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 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 Ingrid 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 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 at two different schools 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 TennisRecruiting.net, 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. 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 University 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.