OXFORD, Miss. -- Nik Scholtz extended the career of legendary coach Billy Chadwick at the NCAA Championships, as the junior All-American reached the Round of 16 for the second time in his career before dropping a close match to UCLA freshman Mackenzie McDonald.
Scholtz finished the season with a 27-7 overall record, highlighted by becoming the fourth Rebel to be named SEC Player of the Year and the first to earn SEC Freshman and Player of the Year honors during his career. His record included a pair of early season wins over Pepperdine's Alex Sarkissian, the runner-up in the NCAA Singles Championship, and an impressive 15-1 mark at No. 1 singles, including 8-1 in the SEC. Scholtz led the Rebels to their 21st consecutive NCAA appearance, and the team defeated Northwestern 4-1 to advance to the second round.
"I achieved a lot of the goals that I wanted to," said Scholtz of his season. "I grew a lot as a player. I got better. I'm still healthy. A lot of people would be satisfied with a Sweet 16, but I really and truly felt this was a year where I could have gone really deep in the [NCAA] Tournament. You can't let one tournament define your whole season. All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it went. It would have been nice to have a better run at the end of the year, but it is what it is. You have to put it behind you, learn and grow from it."
With the collegiate season behind him, Scholtz plans to follow in the footsteps of 2012 NCAA Champion Steve Johnson of Southern California. Johnson was in the same position of having only a few hours to graduate, and he elected to play ITF Futures and Challengers in the summer and fall before returning to Southern Cal for his senior season.
Scholtz is playing in the South Africa F2 Futures that begins Monday. He will play singles and team up with former Rebel and fellow South African Tucker Vorster, in doubles.
From there, Scholtz plans to take some time off, go home to his native Caledon, South Africa, see his family and regroup and then start practicing in preparation for the next tournaments. The focus, Scholtz said, is putting it all together when it really matters, when you're in those pressure-packed moments, and trying to win as many matches as he can.
"It's about being in the right place at the right time and getting a couple of breaks and then you're there," Scholtz said. "The biggest thing you can do is be persistent and play hard every time you step on the court. The ranking will take care of itself. When you're thinking too much about that, it's not going to work out.
"I have learned that all you can do is focus on playing your best tennis, giving it all you have and preparing as hard as you can. At the end of the day, that's all you can do, and the rest will happen if it's meant to happen."
As for Scholtz's future beyond this summer and fall, he will have a big decision to make on whether to return to Ole Miss for his senior season or turn pro. Scholtz, who redshirted his freshman season, is just six hours short of graduation.
"I could truly stay here forever," Scholtz said. "I love this place and I love playing for Ole Miss. The support I'm getting here is truly amazing and I'm really thankful for that. There comes a time when you have to start thinking about the bigger picture, and I am not getting any younger. What will influence my decision the most are my results and my health."
With Scholtz, the Rebels would return six of their top seven players from this year's team, and will be bolstered by one of the nation's top recruiting classes in Gustav Hansson of Sweden, Zvonimir Babic of Croatia and Mazen Osama of Egypt.
"Ole Miss is going to have a great tennis team, and that definitely weighs into my decision. It would be great to be part of winning a championship for Ole Miss and our fans," Scholtz closed.
Here are three pieces to keep in mind as we look ahead to the Ole Miss volleyball team's season-opening weekend in Buffalo, New York, starting with Canisius on Friday morning, the first of four matches over three days at the... read more
For high school football players in Georgia, all roads lead to the Georgia Dome and the state championships. For a handful of Rebels, those roads lead home, as Ole Miss opens the 2014 season against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A... read more
ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy asked each of the 65 coaches from the Power Five conferences to describe their team in one word. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's word? Relentless. The same can be said of the Ole Miss defense. And... read more
After playing 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night, Ole Miss responded with a gutsy 1-0 win over Iowa State on Sunday afternoon. The defense, led by senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick was the story of the... read more
Big time crowd for @SECNetwork live sports event debut. Record attendance of 1,823 for @OleMissSoccer Let's finish strong.-- Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) August 23, 2014 Ole Miss kicked off the 2014 season in thrilling fashion, rallying to a 1-1 draw with... read more
Like defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, defensive line coach Chris Kiffin has been pleased with his players throughout fall camp, particularly the depth bolstered by the return of junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and the addition of sophomore Fadol Brown and... read more
Three things from Ole Miss soccer head coach Matt Mott, previewing the season opener against Georgia on Friday night. Rebels Look to Take Next Step Ole Miss made history this past season, not only setting a school record for wins,... read more
The return of junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and additions of sophomore Fadol Brown and freshman Marquis Haynes have changed the face of the defensive line, but freshman All-American Robert Nkemdiche remains front and center. With a season of experience... read more
The dean of Southeastern Conferences quarterbacks and the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns, senior Bo Wallace is as healthy and confident as ever, and he's also assumed a more vocal leadership role on the... read more
We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.In case you missed it, "Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss" from earlier this year: Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more