Seth Rose doesn’t back down from a challenge. The former Gamecock All-American and two-time All-SEC tennis player was praised by his coach during his playing days for out-working everybody else, and that philosophy has carried over into his career as a lawyer and a county councilman. Now 33 years old, Rose came to South Carolina in the fall of 1999 after Steve Longley, his high school coach and a former Gamecock tennis player, had called (then) Gamecock coach Kent DeMars to recommend him. Rose was drawn to South Carolina even more when he received a call from a member of Clemson’s coaching staff who told him he wouldn’t be fit with the Gamecocks.
“He called to recruit me for his buddy who was the coach at East Carolina,” Rose said. “He told me that I shouldn’t go to South Carolina because he has seen players at my level flounder there. When he called I thought he was trying to recruit me to come there, and when I hung up the phone I said that I was going to South Carolina.”
Rose wasn’t exactly a fish out of water upon arrival. In fact, he was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Region II Rookie of the Year, and he is still quite proud that he never lost a dual match to the rivals from the upstate during his career.
“We were 4-0 as a team against Clemson,” Rose recalled. “My sophomore year, I won the deciding match. When I graduated in 2003, we had won 12 straight against them. I didn’t know anything about the rivalry growing up in Florida, but I was glad I came here. I feel like it was meant to be for me to come here the way it worked out.”
Born in West Virginia but raised in Florida, Rose didn’t know his father growing up. He was raised by his mother and his grandparents.
“My grandparents had a huge impact on my life,” Rose said. “They came to a lot of my matches. They lived in Charleston, West Virginia. They would drive five hours and watch me play and drive to other states to watch me play.”
Rose and the Gamecocks went to four NCAA Tournaments during his career, and many of his best memories go beyond just wins and losses.
“Travelling with the team was always fun,” Rose said. “The camaraderie was great. The best memory was when I made All-American. Tennis is an internationally dominated sport, so to be an All-American and be one of the few Americans on the list meant something to me.”
Known for his intensity and being vocal on the courts, Rose admits he made himself a target of opposing fans.
“I was always really positive and yelling `Go Gamecocks’ during a break,” Rose said. “I enjoyed that – being sort of the `heel’ in professional wrestling.”
When my family dropped me off on campus in the fall of 1999, I was just thinking how great it would be to wear the Gamecock uniform and be a starter. My freshman year we started off ranked No. 9 in the country and we had guys from France and other places who were ballers. Our team was legit.
After graduating in 2003, Rose played in a few minor professional tournaments and soon realized that grinding it out on the minor league tennis circuit wasn’t the best path for him. So he attended law school at South Carolina, earning his degree in 2007. He had interned in the compliance office in South Carolina’s athletics department during his final year of law school, and contemplated working in athletics administration with intentions of being an athletics director, but a Gamecock connection helped steer his path in another direction. His first job out of law school was working as an assistant solicitor in the 5th Circuit, working for Barney Giese.
“Unbeknownst to me, Barney had been a swimmer at South Carolina, his dad (Warren) had been the football coach, and his wife, Charlotte, was an All-American swimmer here,” Rose said. “He called me in for an interview, and my accomplishments sort of caught his eye. So that opened that door for me, and I ended up prosecuting for him for four years.”
His job took him to a lot of neighborhood meetings and sparked something in him that created a desire to run for public office as a Richland County Councilman in 2010.
“I never thought I would run for public office, but I saw some things I wanted to change,” Rose said. “I asked Barney’s permission to run, and he said `yes.’ I sort of took the same approach that I took in tennis, and I thought I could simply outwork everyone. I knocked on 8,500 doors personally, by myself.”
Rose won the election and has immersed himself into the hectic arena of local politics.
“I never thought I would get into politics,” Rose said. “Serving on county council was the first time I ever felt older than I am. I’ve met a lot of great people in the community that I would have never met had I not run for office.”
Rose has since left the solicitor’s office and is now an attorney for the Law Office of Seth Rose, LLC, working within the firm of McGowan, Hood and Felder.
“When I was a prosecutor, I enjoyed prosecuting serious crimes,” Rose said. “I prosecuted murders. I prosecuted a lot of bad people. Now I help a lot of college kids who have never been in trouble before, and I don’t believe will be in trouble again. When you can call a mother or father who is worried sick about their child who has made a bad decision, and you’re able to resolve that for them favorably, that makes me feel good. I enjoy being able to help people.”
Life After Tennis
Rose enjoys living around the corner from South Carolina’s new tennis facility, as well as other facilities, and he frequents Gamecock tennis matches with his wife, Anna, and sons, Cole and Luke.
“I love being able to hear the crowd from the softball or soccer games from my house,” Rose said. “We have a rich tradition at South Carolina in tennis.” One of his more recent trips to campus came in the fall when he was inducted into the South Carolina Association of Lettermen’s Hall of Fame.
“It was a tremendous honor,” Rose said. “Being in the Hall of Fame is nothing you can even dream about. When my family dropped me off on campus in the fall of 1999, I was just thinking how great it would be to wear the Gamecock uniform and be a starter. My freshman year we started off ranked No. 9 in the country and we had guys from France and other places who were ballers. Our team was legit. I was just trying to make the lineup. They were that good. So to make the Hall of Fame was amazing.”
Despite his success on the courts, he may look at other sports for his children.
“Golf is the sport for them,” Rose said. “My three year old, Cole, can hit it pretty good. The tennis window, career-wise, is so short. I mean being 30 in tennis is ancient. In golf, you’ve got guys in their 50s with a chance to win the Masters.”
Rose has hung up his tennis racket as well and has moved on to his newest passions.
“I want to do a good job on county council, I’ve got my law practice, and I want to spend time with my kids,” Rose said. “Tennis was a great time in my life though. I still like tennis, and every once in a while I’ll get the itch to go out and hit a ball, but I like doing things with my kids now.”