Kenny's Road To Leadership
CofC Athletics Communications
As the College of Charleston's men's tennis team opens its spring season at home against Winthrop on Friday, Feb. 1 at 2:30 p.m. (ET) at the CofC Tennis Center at Patriots Point, senior Billy Kenny will be looking to help continue the success the program has had in his previous three years with the Cougars.
Kenny, a native of Pawley's Island, S.C., has been a part of three Southern Conference regular-season championships, and last year, helped the team win its first conference tournament title since he arrived to campus in 2009. After failing to capitalize on a No. 1 seed two years in a row, the Cougars were finally able to reach their goal of making the Big Dance - only the program's second trip to the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship since 2003.
"We won the regular season my freshman, sophomore and junior years," Kenny said. "We just had really great players and a really great team, but we lost the tournament as the No. 1 seed my first two years. Last year, we didn't have the best results throughout the season, but in the SoCon Tournament we were all able to come together and get what needed to be done, done."
Kenny traveled a road that was rougher than he expected in order to get to that elusive tournament championship. After visiting Charleston in high school, he decided to attend CofC over Clemson and South Carolina. During his recruiting visit, he knew he wanted to play for CofC Head Coach Jay Bruner.
"My first recruiting trip was to Charleston," he said, "To be honest, I probably couldn't play for anybody else. Coach Bruner is just an awesome guy."
After a successful high school and junior tennis career, Kenny admittedly expected the transition to college tennis to be easier, but found it tough to crack the lineup his freshman and sophomore years.
"During my freshman year, I wasn't in the lineup too much," said Kenny, who was a four-time all-state tennis player and two-time state AA champion at Waccamaw High School. "We had a lot of good guys and it was a humbling experience, because in high school and junior tennis, I was winning a little bit more."
After finally breaking into the lineup last spring as a regular in doubles, Kenny is hoping to improve on his junior campaign. He posted an 8-2 record in doubles while competing alongside teammates Stephen Hardy and Tom Delme.
Kenny also compiled a 2-1 mark in singles and led in two singles matches that went unfinished in SoCon Tournament play against Chattanooga and Furman. He contributed to the final team score against Samford, 4-0, in the league title match with a 6-3, 6-1 straight-set victory over Ryan Shidler at No. 6 singles.
"I got some really good playing time in doubles and singles," he said. "I had some pretty good results."
Looking towards his final season, Kenny expects to reach his goal of winning another SoCon Championship with a younger lineup than the Cougars had last year. With five new players joining the team this year, he is committed to becoming a leader for the younger players as one of only two seniors on the squad.
"This year is a bit different," he said. "We have a bunch of new guys. They are all really good players and I'm looking forward to the season. It's been more of trying to help them out and be more of a team player, rather than focusing on myself."
This leadership and selflessness is what Kenny believes is needed to bring yet another championship and NCAA Tournament berth in May.