Garth Thomson
Garth Thomson
Title: Head Coach
Phone: 843-661-1185
Email: gthomson@fmarion.edu
Previous College: Francis Marion '91, '97
Years at FMU: 26
Record at FMU: men 344-199 / women 355-210
Career Years: 26
Career Record: men 344-199 / women 355-210

Garth Thomson is entering his 27th year at Francis Marion University as the head coach for men's and women's tennis. 

Francis Marion and the Dr. Eddie Floyd/Florence Tennis Center has served as host of the Peach Belt Conference Men's and Women's Tennis Tournaments each of the past six years and will continue in that role in 2019.

In his 26 seasons at the FMU helm, Thomson has led the men's team to 18 NCAA Division II national tournament appearances (including trips to the Sweet 16 in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2008) and a 344-199 record (.623 winning percentage).  The Patriot men have been nationally ranked at the conclusion of each of the past 23 seasons, and 24 of the past 25.  In his 26 seasons, his teams have produced 20 double-figure win totals and 20 non-losing records.  In 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2006 he was named the Peach Belt Conference men's "Coach of the Year."

Thomson has directed the women's team to a 355-210 mark (.628 winning percentage), 15 trips to the NCAA tournament -- including 10 of the past 13 years.  The program made back-to-back appearances in the national finals in 2008 and 2009, and has appeared in the final national poll 11 of the past 13 seasons and 18 of the past 25 years. His women's teams have posted double-digit win totals in 19 seasons, including consecutive 20-win campaigns in 2008 and 2009.  Over the past 10 seasons (2008-18), the FMU women own a combined 181-69 mark, with 27 of the losses to opponents ranked in the Top 5.  His women's squads have earned the PBC Team Sportsmanship Award five times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017) since the award's inception in 2009.

His teams have earned ITA All-Academic Team Awards on eight occasions (men: 2017, 2015, 2014; women: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014), and on 38 occasions, Patriots netters have earned All-America honors and on 36 occasions, FMU players have gained Academic All-America recognition.

Thomson was named head coach on Oct. 26, 1992, replacing Rowan Davis.  He is the eighth head coach in the history of the men's program and 12th in the history of the women's program.  Prior to taking the FMU position, he was the assistant club (tennis) professional at the Florence Country Club.

In his first two years heading the FMU women's program, he coached Mary Hirst and Lee Whitwell to back-to-back NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Doubles National Championships in 1993 and 1994. The duo became only the third doubles team in Division II history to successfully defend a national title.

In 2006, Francis Marion was one of the most improved women's squads in Division II, going from a 10-15 record in 2005 to a then program-best 20-6 mark.  His 2006 squad was ranked as high as 11th nationally, and five of the team's six losses were to nationally ranked opponents.  For these accomplishments, he was also named the 2006 PBC "Coach of the Year" for women's tennis.  The '06 Patriot men were a program-best 19-3 and were ranked as high as eighth in the Division II national poll.

In 2008, the Patriot women enjoyed their most successful season ever with a program-best 23-3 record, a No. 5 final national ranking, and an appearance in the Elite Eight of the national finals.  Francis Marion finished tied for second during the PBC regular season and lost in the PBC Tournament championship match.  The squad's three losses were all to the teams that played in the Division II national championship match. That same year, the men went 19-6, also reached the Elite Eight of the Division II Tournament in Houston, and gained a No.7 national ranking.

In 2009, the FMU women were 20-5, selected to host an NCAA regional tournament, advanced to the NCAA's round of Sweet 16, and ended the year ranked a program-best No. 5.

In the fall of 2009, Thomson saw one of his men's and women's doubles duos win the ITA Southeast Regional title and advance to the National Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala., where they then both earned spots in the Division II title match. 

The FMU women ended the 2013 season ranked 13th with a 23-4 record – equaling the program record for victories in a season – and advanced to the regional title match for the seventh time in eight years, and one of his seniors earned All-America honors for both her play on the court and her academic work in the classroom.  All four of the team's losses were to opponents that ended the year ranked sixth or higher, including one to the eventual national champions.

During the 2014 campaign, Thomson recorded his 300th win for each of the men's and women's programs.

A native of Harare, Zimbabwe, Thomson earned the B.B.A. degree in finance from Francis Marion in 1991.  He later received the M.B.A. degree from FMU in 1997.  While an undergraduate, he lettered four years in tennis (1987-90) and earned his team's most valuable player award each year.  He holds the school record for career singles victories (63-16 record) and is fifth on the career doubles wins list (56-21 mark). During both his junior and senior seasons, he captured the NAIA District Six number-one singles title, won three matches and advanced to the round of 32 at the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City, Mo., and was named an NAIA second-team All-American.  He was the first Patriot tennis player to earn All-American honors.  In March 1990, he represented Zimbabwe in Davis Cup competition.

In 1998, Thomson was inducted into the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame.  He previously served as the university's International Students Coordinator. He was named the South Carolina 2007 College Coach of the Year by the South Carolina Tennis Association. 

He is also an active tournament player, ranking No.1 in the state and in the Southern Region (11 states) for his age group (50's) in both singles and doubles. 

During the summer of 2016, he played for the South Carolina 45s men’s tennis team that won the Senior Southern Cup, in Huntsville, Ala., defeating North Carolina 3-0, Mississippi 3-0, and Georgia 3-0 in the final.  Thompson won three singles matches and then one doubles match in the final.

He was formerly No.1 in singles and doubles in the 40’s in South Carolina and the Southern Region (9 states) rankings, and was Top-10 in singles in the National 40’s rankings. In June 2014, he led the South Carolina Men's 45 team to a fifth-place finish at the Senior Cup in Huntsville, Ala., posting a 3-0 singles mark.  During the summer of 2013, he respresented the Sandlappers and won two singles matches against competition from Kentucky and Arkansas.  In August 2009, he competed for the United States in the seventh-annual Ted Avory Cup in London, England.

Thomson is a member of the Francis Marion chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Honor Society.

He is married (wife Kelly) with three children (daughters Kaia and Halyn, stepson Landon).

Year Men's Record Post-Season Final Ranking Women's Record Post-Season Final Ranking
2018 7-11   30 9-9    
2017 7-9   38 14-9 NCAAs 23
2016 15-10 NCAAs 28 20-7 NCAAs 18
2015 9-10   49 11-8    
2014 7-9   31 15-7 NCAAs 24
2013 15-9 NCAAs 18 23-4 NCAAs 13
2012 10-7 NCAAs 21 18-4 NCAAs 10
2011 10-8 NCAAs 17 11-7   30
2010 12-8 NCAAs 15 17-6 NCAAs 13
2009 16-6 NCAAs 18 20-5 NCAAs (S16) 5
2008 19-6 NCAAs (E8) 7 23-3 NCAAs (E8) 5
2007 8-10   29 16-8 NCAAs 16
2006 19-3 NCAAs 29 20-6 NCAAs 11
2005 17-6 NCAAs 20 10-15    
2004 11-12   25 7-13    
2003 13-5 NCAAs 21 12-8   35
2002 17-8 NCAAs 12 8-15    
2001 13-10 NCAAs (S16) 9 4-13    
2000 18-4 NCAAs 10 9-10   29
1999 18-5 NCAAs (S16) 12 14-8 NCAAs 11
1998 15-7 NCAAs (S16) 11 14-7 NCAAs 15
1997 12-7 NCAAs 16 12-9 NCAAs 20
1996 14-7 NCAAs 18 14-6 NCAAs 13
1995 10-10 NCAAs   13-8 NCAAs  
1994 17-6   17 9-8   20
1993 15-6     12-7    

 

(8-2018)