Spend time at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center any given day in the spring, and you’ll not only find current members of the Ole Miss men’s tennis team practicing or getting ready for a big match, but you’ll see former players hanging around. Ole Miss tennis is much more than a team, it’s a family. That is something senior Johan Backstrom noticed immediately upon arriving at Ole Miss as a freshman three and a half years ago.
“Right away I felt like a part of the team and the guys were all great,” Backstrom said. “We had some great leaders like Kalle Norberg, Tucker Vorster and Jonas Lutjen, guys that I could look up to. There’s a saying that you may graduate from the University of Mississippi, but you never leave Ole Miss. That’s true about our team. When guys come back to visit, they are treated like they are still part of the team. We have a small team, so having all these guys around makes it more fun.”
Backstrom has had a lot of fun during his career and has been involved in some big moments for the Rebels. He has been instrumental in the Rebels’ claiming an SEC West Championship and three NCAA appearances, including the Sweet Sixteen. The Uppsala, Sweden native will be remembered for clinching the NCAA Regional final against Michigan in 2012 to send the Rebels to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the 16th time.
“I have a lot of great memories, but the one that sticks out in my mind, is clinching against Michigan for us to go to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen,” Backstrom said. “That was quite an experience. Beating Georgia here [last year] was another great memory and clinching against Tennessee.”
Last year, Backstrom helped lead the Rebels to their 10th SEC Western Division title and a final ranking of No. 10 in the nation.
Off the court, Backstrom is a leader in the classroom. The managerial finance and accounting major holds an impressive 3.90 grade point average. He has been inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and is a two-time National ITA Scholar-Athlete, a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and a member of the Chancellor’s Honor Roll every semester. He helped the Rebels earn the Chancellor’s Cup three of his years, as the Ole Miss men’s team with the highest cumulative GPA, and has been instrumental in the Rebels earning the prestigious ITA All-Academic Team Award every year of his career.
Four years ago, Backstrom was deciding between two schools, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Today, he plays his last SEC home match for the Rebels against the Aggies in front of a fan base he has come to love like his own family.
“Playing in front of the fans here is nothing like I have ever experienced before. It’s so much fun to play for Rebel Nation and the Rebel family. It’s hard to beat. We always get a fantastic crowd to support us, and we are really appreciative of that.”
As a double major, Backstrom will return next year to finish up his degree, practice with the guys and cheer on his teammates from the stands, just like so many of his former teammates have done through the years.
“It’s been quite a journey and there are a lot of things I am going to miss about being a part of this team,” Backstrom said. “The team spirit and traveling with the guys, team dinners at coach’s house. Being able to fight for your team and play for a team is something that I’ll never get to do again. It’s been an incredible experience and I am happy with the decision I made.”
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 8-14, 2014Volleyball- Ole Miss captured the Magnolia Invitational this past weekend to improve to 10-0, its best start in school history.- The Rebels downed UAB and Mercer 3-0 and then defeated Jacksonville State 3-1... read more
After a 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, Ole Miss moved up four spots to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, released on Sunday. Despite breaking into the top 10, the Rebels remain fifth among Southeastern Conference Western Division... read more
This is the third installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week... read more
Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0... read more
Senior cornerback Senquez Golson has come a long way since he was a freshman. That season, he was most notably on the receiving end of a highlight reel juke from Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Three years later, as part... read more
Three areas to watch as Ole Miss faces Louisiana-Lafayette in its home opener Saturday. Wearing the Bull's-Eye After a 2-0 start with wins over Boise State and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll,... read more
With a chance to make history, Ole Miss dropped a first set for the first time this season. The Rebels answered the bell winning the next three sets to defeat Jacksonville State 3-1 and improve to 10-0 on the season,... read more
Rebel Nation goes into its home opener Saturday excited for the return of football at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but also saddened by the loss of one of its most renowned voices.Stan Sandroni, 64, passed away of a heart attack late Wednesday.... read more
Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' home opener Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.Freeze's time... read more
Former Ole Miss football player Jody Hill has partnered with Square Books in Oxford to launch his book, "38: The Chucky Mullins Effect," celebrating the life and impact of his Ole Miss teammate Chucky Mullins. Hill will be signing copies... read more
From week one to week two, head coach Hugh Freeze and offensive line coach Matt Luke are generally pleased with the progress along the offensive line. The number of false start penalties went from eight to two, while the... read more
With back-to-back tournament titles to open the season, the Rebels are 7-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007 and are also the only Southeastern Conference team still undefeated."We feel like at this point in our season... read more