Osorio to Play for National Championship
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Florida Gulf Coast University tennis standout Juan Carlos Osorio will compete for the Wilson/ITA Division II singles championship Saturday at the FGCU Tennis Complex.
Osorio upset second-seeded Kevin Taylor of Francis Marion in three sets (6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5) to earn a spot in the national finals against top-seed Matias Oddone of Drury at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Oddone cruised past Casper Steenkamp of Abilene Christian, 6-4, 6-2. With the win in the semifinals, Osorio becomes the first FGCU student-athlete to compete in a national championship final.
The 6-foot-5 Taylor, who lost for just the second time in two years, came in with one of the strongest serves in Division II. But the 5-foot-10 Osorio wore him down with relentless hustle and a strong return of serve.
“It was a tough match to come back,” said Osorio. “I lost the first set but I knew I had to keep going and battle him, like a boxer. He serves so well but I knew I had to do my job and keep battling and break him down, return serve and take advantage of my backhand.”
Taylor captured the first set with a display of powerful service and a dominant forehand. But Osorio broke serve three times, including the final game, to win the second set. Taylor broke serve in the opening game of the final set and led 4-2 before Osorio rallied. The Ecuador native held serve to pull within 4-3 before breaking Taylor to tie it at 4-4. Osorio won five of the final six games for the win.
“Our worst nightmare was facing Taylor,” said Eagles head coach J. Webb Horton. “He’s a very solid player and we knew we had to make him work. Juan really kept his composure and focus and battled. He faces another good player tomorrow but he’s ready to compete.”
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.