Englishman making waves for Cougar tennis


His mom wanted to give him a way to get rid of his excess energy, so spunky 5-year-old Francis Sargeant started playing tennis along with cricket, rugby, hockey and soccer.

It was tennis that stuck.

Mom did Sargeant a big favor in helping him find his passion for something that’s taken him across the Atlantic Ocean from England to Utah.

Francis Sargeant returns the ball during BYU's 7–0 win over Utah State earlier this season.  Sargeant has made an impressive transition from England to Provo. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Francis Sargeant returns the ball during BYU’s 7–0 win over Utah State earlier this season. Sargeant has made an impressive transition from England to Provo. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

BYU sophomore and men’s tennis team standout Sargeant decided years ago that playing collegiate tennis in the United States was what he wanted to do.

“Basically, I knew I wanted to play American college tennis because university tennis in England isn’t as strong as it is in America,” Sargeant said. “If I wanted to carry on playing at a high level, I had to come to America to do that.”

After he finished secondary school, Sargeant looked up the Top-75 Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and sent an email to every single school on the list.

“I actually emailed all of the 75 ranked schools in DI, which took a long time, but I got 20 or so replies,” Sargeant said, “so it was definitely worth it.”

BYU was one of those Top-75 teams, and BYU coach Brad Pearce was one of the coaches that emailed him back.

“There were two things that caught my attention with that initial email,” Pearce said. “He had a No. 1 ranking in England and the other thing was his interest in the academic side.”

While contact via email isn’t the most conventional way of being recruited, it certainly worked out for the Cougars and Sargeant. After communicating back and forth with Pearce, Sargeant finally took a visit to Provo in February 2011. He was impressed with what BYU had to offer athletically and academically and decided it was where he wanted to be.

“BYU was a pretty good fit,” Sargeant said. “I really liked the school, and I liked Brad Pearce so I thought it seemed like a good place.”

The transition from England to Provo, from a life where he “wasn’t sure if (he) knew a Mormon,” to a life where he’s surrounded by them, hasn’t been easy. Neither has transitioning from playing only singles tennis to playing doubles as well, and not just for himself but for his team.

“It’s been a big learning curve,” Sargeant said. “Obviously playing on a team the whole time is something to adjust to. There’s a lot more pressure when you have coach screaming at you and you’re playing for the rest of the guys, rather than just playing for yourself.”

The player known as Franky to his teammates has overcome challenges from that first season to help him thrive in his sophomore year for the Cougars.

“I’ve been able to adjust to it, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Sargeant said. “I’ve really been enjoying myself.”

Sargeant currently has an 11–4 singles record, including his impressive comeback against San Diego two weeks ago to swing the match in BYU’s favor. He’s also excelled this season with doubles partner Patrick Kawka. He and Kawka are currently 12–4.

“It has been great and really exciting to be his doubles partner,” Kawka said. “I think what makes us a great team is how we are such great friends off the court.”

That spunky 5-year-old certainly has come a long way.
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