Osorio Advances to National Semifinals
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Florida Gulf Coast University senior Juan Carlos Osorio advanced to the semi-finals of the 2005 ITA Division II National Singles Championships with a straight set win over Junyoung Kim of BYU-Hawaii on Thursday morning. FGCU is hosting the ITA National Small College Tennis Championships at the FGCU Tennis Complex through Sunday.
Osorio breezed through the first set, 6-1, forcing Kim’s backhand into numerous unforced errors with solid ground strokes. Early in the second set Kim was the aggressor and jumped out to a 5-4 lead. Osorio then broke Kim’s serve and used his own superior serve to pull away 7-5 and take the match.
“In the second set, I got away from I do best,” said Osorio, who now has a 28-1 career singles record at FGCU. “When he took the lead 5-4 in the second set, I just wanted to focus on making my shots and become more aggressive. Fortunately, I was able to make the shots.”
Head coach J. Webb Horton was pleased with Osorio’s performance against the top player from the school that has won two of the past three NCAA Division II championships.
“Juan is playing at a high level right now,” said FGCU head coach J. Webb Horton. “It was huge when he came up with two big serves at 5-all in the second set to take control of the match. We knew Kim was getting fatigued and we couldn’t let him back in the match. Juan was focused and under control. But he faces a stiff test tomorrow.”
On Friday morning at 9:30 a.m., Osorio will square off against second-seeded Kevin Taylor of Francis Marion, who finished last year as the No. 12 ranked player in the country. Taylor posted a 19-1 dual match record last spring and features one of the strongest serves in Division II tennis. The 6-foot-5 South African rolled past Peter Grimsey of Rockhurst in two sets (6-1, 7-5) in Thursday’s first round play, ending the match with one of many service aces.
Though Osorio has not seen Taylor play in person, he faced three top-14 nationally ranked players in the Southeast Region, including Sebastian Nidermayer of Eckerd, a tall lefthander with a big serve. He hopes to use that experience to his advantage. To have a chance to advance to Saturday afternoon’s national championship match, Osorio knows he has to limit his mistakes.
“He’s a very good player with a great serve but I like to return serve,” said Osorio. “I have to return his serves, make him play the whole court, and play my type of game. Maybe the hot weather will work to my favor. I think it will be a good match and I am ready to compete.”
Horton feels Osorio has to control the tempo if he is to become the first FGCU athlete to compete in a national championship final.
“Kevin Taylor is a very strong player and Juan will not be able to out-serve him,” said Horton. “If he can consistently return serve, and play a strong ground game, I think he has a chance to pull the upset.”
In other Division II men’s singles first-round action, top-seed Matias Oddone of Drury topped Gustavo Sanchez of Dowling in straight sets (6-1, 6-2) while Casper Steenkamp of Abilene Christian defeated Thomas Provost of Valdosta State in three sets (6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-4).
The ITA National Small College Championships feature eight regional champions in each division (men's and women's singles and doubles) from which a national champion from each division is determined during the first two-and-a-half days of competition. The national champions from each division square off in the ITA "Super Bowl" of Small College Tennis on Sunday to determine the overall ITA National Small College Champions, who then earn berths into the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, a Division I event being hosted by The Ohio State University in November.