ROCKINGHAM — When Alex Auman was looking for a college, he wanted to select one which would help him take his tennis game to the next level.
He believes he found the right place — Francis Marion.
“The coaches were better than the other coaches I saw,” Auman said. “Everyone brags about how good they are.”
In his 20 years at the Florence, S.C. school, head coach Garth Thomson has guided the Patriots to 16 appearances in the NCAA Division II national tournament. Francis Marion finished with a 10-7 mark this spring and were knocked out of the DII tournament in the opening round by Georgia College. Thomson, who was the Patriots’ first tennis all-American, represented Zimbabwe in Davis Cup competition in March 1990.
Auman said he contacted Thomson to let him know he was interested in the program. After setting up a private workout, Auman earned a scholarship offer.
“I feel I can improve a lot because he’s a good coach,” Auman said. “They were ranked 10th in the nation and it’s not that big of a school.”
Auman finished his career at Richmond Senior with a 55-20 singles record and a 56-23 doubles mark. This year, Auman captured the Southeastern Conference doubles title with his brother, Colt, after winning the singles title as a junior.
Even though he will go to Francis Marion with a strong resume, Auman knows he will have to earn his playing time as a freshman.
“I know I may have to wait,” Auman said. “With all of the strong players there, you are going to get better even at practice instead of just leveling out. But I still want to play.”
Auman and the Patriots will participate in the ITA Southeast Regional Championships in Sumter, S.C. in September before opening the spring schedule at home against Barton on Feb. 2.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com