Gamecock tennis assistant leaving USC for head coaching job
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s tennis Associate Head Coach Jeff Nevolo has been named the new head coach of the SMU women’s program. Nevolo spent the past five years with the Gamecocks, playing a large part in their successes in the Southeastern Conference and nationally.
Alongside head coach Kevin Epley, a SMU graduate, the coaching duo brought the first-ever SEC Championship home to Carolina during the 2018-19 season.
“The past five seasons at South Carolina have been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined,” Nevolo said. “I want to thank every single student-athlete who competed for this program and shared their experience with me. It was truly amazing.
“Kevin Epley took a chance on me five years ago and I can’t thank him enough. Being a small part of building what turned into an SEC Championship team was incredible and I am so grateful I was given the opportunity. I cannot properly put into words the positive effect Kevin has had on my coaching and my life.”
Nevolo’s time at South Carolina saw a lot of firsts and bests for the Gamecocks. On the rankings side, in just the 2018-19 season, Carolina nabbed its highest in-season and end-of-year rankings, coming in at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively. Individually, Nevolo helped coach Ingrid Martins and Mia Horvit to the No. 1 spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) doubles poll twice during the year and ending the season atop the rankings. In singles, Nevolo’s presence was felt again with Martins getting the highest singles ranking at No. 4.
Earning the SEC title, the Gamecocks outlasted No. 1-ranked Georgia, serving as the first time they have beaten the top-ranked team in program history. Tallying more postseason wins, Carolina advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, matching the 1982 and 2009 seasons for a program-best finish. With Nevolo on staff, South Carolina went further and further each year. The Gamecocks played in the Round of 32 his first two years, and then back-to-back Sweet 16s before making the Elite 8 push this past season.
“Jeff has been with us at South Carolina for five years now and has been a tremendous part of the success we have achieved,” Epley said. “We will miss him but this is a great opportunity for him and I am happy to know that the tennis program at my alma mater is in good hands. Everyone here wishes Jeff and his family the best of luck.”
Nevolo’s hard work has been noticed around the tennis world. He was named the ITA Carolina Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2018. In 2018, his recognition was brought to the national stage, earning the title of ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year.
“My family and I loved being a part of the Columbia community and the Gamecock Family,” Nevolo stated. “Coach Ray Tanner and Judy Van Horn have been unwavering in their support of us and we will be forever grateful. We will always be Gamecock fans.
“I’d like to thank SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart and Deputy Athletics Director Kurt Pottkotter for the opportunity to lead the SMU women’s tennis program. It is a dream come true to become a head coach and I’m excited to tackle the challenge of competing for American Conference Championships and on the highest of national stages. My family and I can’t wait to get started. Pony Up.”