written by: Lia Armistead
When it’s fall in Valdosta, it’s time for the VSU men’s tennis team to prepare for the upcoming season, which begins at the start of February.
The coaches of the Valdosta State tennis teams sit down at their desks, prepared to see email after email−as many as forty−from students all over the world wanting to play for the VSU team.
In 2013, one player stood out to graduate assistant coach Konstantin Kutschenko.
Kutschenko saw the potential for Francisco Yim Kim to help bring the Blazers to the national championship in the 2014 season, bringing more diversity to the international team.
Kim is a freshman from Asuncion, Paraguay, with a Korean nationality.
The 19-year-old started playing tennis at the age of 9 after going to many tournaments and watching his older brother play the well-known sport.
As well as developing the passion for tennis, Kim also developed a hobby of playing soccer, an extremely popular sport in Paraguay.
However, by the age of 13, Kim decided to stop playing soccer and dedicated his sports appetite solely to tennis.
When Kim first started playing the sport, he met his role model, mentor, coach and friend, Ramon Delgado, a retired Paraguayan professional tennis player.
34-year-old Delgado took Kim under his wing, showing him the ropes of competitive tennis while providing a prime example of what it takes to become a professional player.
After playing in Paraguay, countries scattered throughout Europe and all over South Africa, Kim decided to make the journey to the states and play for the Blazers in the 2014 tennis season.
“At first it was for the scholarship, and then Kutschenko told me [Valdosta] was a good place and that we have a good chance to win the national championship,” Kim said.
After playing for a retired tennis player for many years, Kim experienced a familiar type of coaching from head coach John Hansen.
“They’re not similar since [Delgado] played and Coach Hansen doesn’t play, but they are similar because they both teach well, and they are nice and always encourage me” Kim said.
Coach Hansen is proud to welcome a new member to the men’s tennis team, especially someone with such great records and potential.
“He’s probably the toughest−physically−we have on the team and doesn’t let things bother him while he’s on the court. So physically and mentally, he’s probably a little tougher than everybody else” Hansen said.
Hansen already sees Kim bringing the team far this season, noticing that when Kim walks out onto the court he’s in his own world, concentrating only on tennis throughout both practice and matches.
“For one thing, he’s playing as number one right now, so I think the rest of the team would agree that he’s this season’s number one player,” Hansen said.
As a freshman, Kim has already defeated some very impressive and well-known players that have played VSU in the past, proving that he is this season’s number one player while maintaining a high ranking.
Kim has a very positive outlook on what his future may hold.
Although currently an undecided major, the freshman has hopes of pursuing a career in accounting after playing tennis on the professional level.
With his previous records and accomplishments, Kim has proven that he has what it takes to help bring the Blazers to victory in the national championship this season and in seasons to come.