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.”
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace, like his head coach, stepped into a program that had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14 straight games. Three years later, Wallace helped lead the ninth-ranked Rebels to their first nine-win regular... read more
Official welcome to Chad Kelly, the No. 1 JUCO QB in the country from national champion East Mississippi CC. #HottyToddy-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 17, 2014 Just Sent My LOI In To The University Of Mississippi!!! Feel's Good To... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 8-14, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded with a 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. The win was the first after back-to-back losses for the Rebels for the first time... read more
Ole Miss Details Stadium Expansion Plans Ole Miss unveiled the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes two phases of renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, the expansion will bring the seating capacity... read more
With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 1-7, 2014Football- No. 9 Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will face No. 6 TCU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta's Georgia Dime.- Ole Miss is making... read more
While the Rebels have enjoyed a solid fall on the fields and courts and look forward to the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and more basketball games, all student-athletes are busy this week proving they are champions in the classroom... read more
In the early part of the week, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract. In the late part of the week, the Rebels learned their postseason bowl destination. Here are... read more
Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic. "We... read more
Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract, they both announced on Twitter early Tuesday morning. Terms will be released as they are finalized and are expected in the coming days.... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Nov. 24-30, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss won the annual "Egg Bowl" rivalry 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State in front of another sold-out crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.- The Rebels finish the... read more
Ole Miss collected a lot of hardware over the weekend, as the football team reclaimed the Egg Bowl trophy and the men's and women's basketball returned home with regular-season tournament championship. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week... read more