Didavi, Taylor take aim at national event for small colleges
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana will take another significant step in its modern era of men's tennis when Loic Didavi and Zach Taylor compete Thursday in the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships at Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
It's the first time that Xavier has competed in this event. Didavi will play Embry-Riddle's top-seeded Chris Freeman in the opening round of NAIA men's singles. Didavi and Taylor are seeded second in NAIA men's doubles and will play their first match against Olivet Nazarene's Sebastian Esquetini and Diego Gonsalvez.
Also competing are men's and women's regional singles and doubles winners and at-large selections from NCAA Division II and III and the junior colleges. Survivors of all the brackets will meet this weekend to determine overall champions.
"It's like a Super Bowl of small-college tennis," Xavier coach Alan Green said.
All singles players and doubles teams will play a minimum of three matches, and Green says he wouldn't be surprised if Didavi and Taylor spent all their time in the winners bracket.
"Loic has a great shot to win in singles because he's left-handed and because it's humid down here," Green said. "When left-handers hit, the ball spins in the opposite direction compared to a right-hander's hit. Right-handers have to really be careful when playing a left-hander. In doubles Loic and Zach's chemistry is not 100 percent yet, but what's making it work is that they're both talented. Both have pretty good hands around the net. The more familiar they become with each other, the more lethal they'll be."
Didavi, a junior from Cotonou, Benin, and a transfer from Auburn Montgomery, is 8-0 in singles and 5-1 in doubles through two fall tournaments. Both he and Taylor, a senior from Monroe, La., were second-team NAIA All-Americans this past season, and both had top-10 NAIA doubles rankings.