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Kefalos Continues to Enjoy Tennis in Columbia

October 23, 2014 09:17 AM

In 1972, Jeff Kefalos came to Columbia to play tennis at USC.

During the next 40 years, his life changed myriad ways. But Kefalos always kept helping others enjoy tennis.

For years, he helped coach the men’s and women’s teams at USC. He also taught countless people of all ages how to play tennis as the director of the Columbia Tennis Center near USC.

Later this year, Kefalos will be officially recognized for his decades of service.

In December, Kefalos, along with Tom Foster of Woodruff, will be inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame during a special banquet at the USTA South Carolina Annual Meeting on Isle of Palms. The men also will have their portraits hung at the hall of fame in Belton.

“Tom and Jeff have made tremendous contributions to tennis in South Carolina,” said Graham Cox, executive director of USTA South Carolina. “We’re fortunate and proud to recognize such dedicated and distinguished supporters of tennis.”

Kefalos, who grew up in West Virginia, never planned to spend his career in tennis.

After being named the USC men’s tennis MVP four times, Kefalos graduated with a business degree in 1976 and thought about finding a 9-to-5 job in business. Many of his teammates were accepting jobs with accounting firms.

But in 1977, Kefalos was named the director of the Columbia Tennis Center, a position he still holds today.

In 1977, he also took over the Gamecock women’s tennis program. During his six years as head coach, his teams went 127-34. And in 1982, Kefalos was one of four finalists for National Coach of the Year honors.

For the 1993-94 Gamecock men’s tennis season, Kefalos joined Kent DeMars’ staff as an assistant. He helped DeMars run the program for 16 years, and together, they mentored three All-Americans and 11 different student-athletes who earned All-SEC honors.

In 1998, Kefalos also earned National Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Kefalos, 60, no longer teaches college athletes. But he still spends about 20 hours a week teaching tennis to a range of people, from 6-year-olds learning how to play to 85-year-olds who have played for decades.

Kefalos also is still enjoying the sport that brought him to Columbia.

“I’ve really tried to keep it fun,” he said, “and that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much.”