Ole Miss Men's Tennis History
The men’s tennis program at Ole Miss is recognized as one of the elite programs in the nation, consistently competing for SEC and NCAA Championships. In addition to producing excellent results on the court, the program has achieved a high level of success academically with players leaving Ole Miss to become highly successful in their chosen careers.
Tennis has been a part of Ole Miss athletics for over a century. During the early 1900s, tennis was considered a club sport at Ole Miss. Tennis received a major boost in 1949 when J.W. Wobble Davidson became the head coach. Under the direction of Davidson, the Rebel tennis program took on a more competitive role. Mitch Salloum, Jr., was one of the stars of Davidson’s early teams and compiled a 14-1 record in match play in 1953.
The 1974 Ole Miss men’s tennis team is one of the most successful teams in the history of the program becoming the first Rebel squad to win 20 matches in a season. Coached by Mack Cameron, the ‘74 Rebel squad posted a 21-9 record and held the record for most wins in a season head coach Billy Chadwick’s 1995 team went 23-5 and advanced to the National Championship match. The ‘74 team included the first two Ole Miss tennis players to receive full scholarships, Peter Marks of Jackson, Miss., and Randy Hoover of Chattanooga, Tenn.
In 1988, Dave Randall, currently the head pro at River Hills, and Jamie Booras, became the first All-Americans for Ole Miss men’s tennis. Randall was recognized nationally in 1989 by receiving the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award. They along with the 1989 team, who was the first to go to the NCAA Team Championships, laid the foundation for the success of the program today.
The sixth head coach in the history of men’s tennis at Ole Miss, Chadwick ranked as one of the top collegiate head coaches, and is recognized as one of the most successful head coaches in the history of Ole Miss sports.
For his contributions to the world of tennis as both a player and a coach, Chadwick was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in July of 2006. In January of 2011, he was inducted into the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame and in May of 2014, he was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame.
With his fifth SEC Championship in 2009, Chadwick trails only legendary football coach John Vaught in SEC titles won at Ole Miss. Vaught won six conference titles in 1947, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962 and 1963.
While the teams of the late eighties and early nineties laid the foundation, the 1995 season will be remembered as the benchmark year for the Rebels when they advanced to the final of the NCAA Team Championship and claimed the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Since ‘95, the Rebels have been a mainstay among the best teams in the nation, advancing to the NCAA Final Four in 1997, 1999 and 2005.
In 1996, the Rebels went undefeated in the SEC regular season on their way to winning the program’s first ever SEC title. They have won 18 team titles in what is regarded as the nation’s premier conference.
In 2014, the Rebels made their 21st consecutive NCAA appearance led by SEC Player of the Year Nik Scholtz. Scholtz became the fourth Rebel to earn the league’s top honor and the first Rebel to be named SEC Freshman and Player of the Year during his career. Johan Backstrom was named a Capital One Academic All-American, making Ole Miss the only school to boast an All-American (Scholtz) and an Academic All-American.
While Chadwick’s teams have ranked among the nation’s elite for the past 20 years, they have been just as impressive off the court. The Rebels have been named an ITA All-Academic Team nine times, most recently in 2014. The Award is given to teams with a 3.2 cumulative grade point average or above on a 4.0 scale. The Rebels have received the Chancellor’s Cup 10 times. The cup is awarded each year to the men’s and women’s varsity sports with the highest cumulative grade point average. Individually, the Rebels have had many Capital One Academic All-Americans and numerous ITA Scholar-Athletes. Bram ten Berge became the first Ole Miss tennis player to win the Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year award (2009).
The Rebels boast 73 All-SEC picks, 103 Academic All-SEC honorees, 29 All-Americans and 29 National Academic Honorees.
After 35 years of roaming the courts at Ole Miss, Chadwick announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Toby Hansson, who spent eight years alongside Chadwick as an assistant and associate head coach, takes the reins of the program.
Looking ahead to 2015 and the beginning of the Hansson Era, the Rebels return six of the top seven led by seniors Scholtz and William Kallberg. The Rebels will also welcome one of the nation’s top recruiting classes to Oxford.
The foundation has been laid, and now it’s Hansson’s turn to build on the success.