XU's Didavi, Taylor qualify for small college championships
ATLANTA -- Xavier University of Louisiana's Loic Didavi defeated teammate Steffen Giles-Osborn 6-2, 6-4 in the men's singles final, then teamed with Zach Taylor for a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 doubles upset of William Carey's top-seeded Jody Claasen and Thomas Rizk on Sunday in the USTA/ITA NAIA South Regional tennis championships.
The victories qualified Didavi and Taylor for the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships at Mobile, Ala., on Oct. 13-16. It will be the first time Xavier will be represented at that event.
"It feels weird being on this end of it," ninth-year Xavier coach Alan Green said. "Winning a fall regional . . . it's great."
A year ago the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets had no finalists in this event, to which Xavier played host. But the arrival of Didavi, an XU junior and a two-time second-team NAIA All-American at Auburn Montgomery, and other key recruits is making Green, an eternal optimist, even more excited.
"I have a good feeling about our teams," Green said.
Didavi, winner of the singles A-flight at the HBCU National Championships one week earlier, has yet to lose a set in eight singles matches at Xavier. He's 5-1 in doubles with Taylor, an NAIA All-American in doubles last season with Hassan Abbas, now an XU student assistant coach.
"The singles final was a treat to just watch as a fan because both our guys were involved," Green said. "It was different in doubles. We got off to a good start, then William Carey picked up their game and handled us in the second. We regrouped in the third set and closed out the match."
Didavi and Taylor, the A-doubles runner-up at the HBCU tourney, were seeded second this weekend. Didavi made amends for a loss as a top seed in the NAIA fall regional doubles final a year ago.
Didavi was the No. 2 singles seed, and Giles-Osborn was unseeded. Giles-Osborn upset William Carey's eighth-seeded Ricky Keppeler in three sets in Saturday's semifinals.
The Mobile event will conclude Xavier's fall competition. The Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets will play dual matches during the spring semester, and Green will announce that schedule by the end of December.
"We'll be playing a lot of ranked teams in the spring," Green said. "We'll be going back to AUM's tournament and back to California for several matches. We're looking forward to playing the best competition available and bringing out the best in our players."