OXFORD, Miss. — In January, Ole Miss celebrated men’s tennis coach Billy Chadwick, as he announced he would step down at the end of the 2014 season, after 35 years, including 31 years at the helm of the men’s program.
In May, the sport of tennis celebrated him, as he was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame, while also coaching SEC Player of the Year and three-time All-American Nik Scholtz at the NCAA Singles Championship.
Scholtz’s run to the Sweet 16 marked the last matches of Chadwick’s legendary career, having coached the Rebels to their 21st consecutive NCAA Championship bid and a 4-1 win over Northwestern to reach the regional final.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime event in Athens getting to be there to coach in the NCAA Singles Championship and then being inducted into the ITA Hall of Fame,” Chadwick said. “It was a whirlwind. It was a great experience. I really appreciate the following of administrators and lifelong fans we had come over from Ole Miss. It was a great evening and a great week.”
“It really motivated me to try to push myself to win,” Scholtz said. “Coach has been a big part of my success, and it was great to be a part of his last matches and to see him inducted into the hall of fame. I’m really happy that I will always be the last match that he coached. I never thought about it, but it’s an honor to be that guy.”
In his last season, Chadwick coached Scholtz to SEC Player of the Year honors and a final national ranking of No. 14 in singles, making him the highest ranked player in the league. The Rebels were the only team in the nation to have an All-American and an Academic All-American, as Johan Backstrom was named a Capital One Academic All-American this week.
Chadwick began his coaching career with the women’s program in 1979, and in 1982 he led the Lady Rebels to the SEC finals, AIAW Nationals and the program's first top 20 national ranking.
In 1983, Chadwick took over the men’s team, and he turned it into one of the nation’s top programs on and off the courts. Among his career highlights were an appearance in the NCAA Team Championship Final, four appearances in the NCAA Semifinals, an NCAA Doubles Championship and an NCAA Singles Championship.
With his fifth overall SEC Championship in 2009, Chadwick trails only legendary football coach John Vaught in SEC titles won at Ole Miss. Chadwick’s teams also won 10 SEC Western Division titles and three SEC Tournament Championships.
“If you look back, we have had exceptional players, including this year with Johan (Backstrom) being named an Academic All-American and Nik being named SEC Player of the Year,” Chadwick said. “We have had extraordinary players come through the program for the last 25-30 years. That’s what I will take with me. When they come in, they become part of the Ole Miss family here. It’s been a real honor to be able to work with such outstanding young men.”
Chadwick is set to retire on June 30, but he remains involved in the management of the program as he prepares to hand the reins to associate head coach Toby Hansson.
“I have been helping Toby in making some decisions on different things for next year, as far as scheduling and helping him with his game plan going forward,” Chadwick said. “It’s also been a whirlwind because my oldest son is getting married, and so we have been doing a lot in preparation for that.
“With Toby being named the next head coach early, we were able to take advantage of recruits knowing who was going to be the coach. Toby has a great reputation, and as a result, he had one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. I’m proud that I’m leaving the program in great shape.”
With Scholtz, the Rebels 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.
Chadwick looks forward to taking a step back and becoming a fan, not only of the men’s tennis team but all the athletics programs at Ole Miss.
“I’m going to sit back and take a deep breath,” Chadwick said. “I’m looking forward to becoming a fan, not only of tennis, but the other sports. We play almost every weekend. So many times we’re not here for the home football games. Rarely, in the spring, do we get to go to a home basketball game or baseball game.”
With a distance of 287-yards, the 2015 #CFAPBGolf Coaches Division Long Drive Champion is @CoachHughFreeze! pic.twitter.com/ProCdgbbg9-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 27, 2015 Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze took home the long drive title at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge... read more
Hugh Freeze and Ross Bjork embarked on the Rebel Road Trip, the baseball team claimed their weekend series over Alabama that featured the largest crowd of the season and the football program's NFL presence is expected to grow with the... read more
Ole Miss swept a doubleheader Saturday, defeating Alabama 10-2 in Game One and 4-0 in Game Two. As a pitching staff, the Rebels allowed just one earned run and scattered a combined 12 hits with 17 strikeouts compared to just... read more
Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze will team with former All-SEC basketball player Sean Tuohy to represent the Rebels for the fourth straight year and compete for a share of the $520,000 total purse in the ninth annual Chick-fil-A... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 14-20, 2015Men's Tennis- Ole Miss downed No. 22 Vanderbilt 4-1 to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 16th time in program history.- The Rebels rallied to take the doubles point and then got... read more
With a split of road matches at South Carolina and No. 8 Georgia, the Ole Miss men's tennis team moved up one spot to No. 13 in the nation entering the Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Championship this week in College... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review April 7-13, 2015 Baseball - Ole Miss finished the week with a 2-2 mark to remain a .500 overall record for the season (18-18) as well as 7-8 in SEC play. After dropping a... read more
The baseball team claimed claimed their second series of the second over the nation's top-ranked team in dramatic fashion. The football team wrapped up spring practice. And the men's and women's tennis teams closed out their respective regular seasons and... read more
At one point, co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said, all three quarterbacks had completed around 66 percent of their passes, a testament to how close the competition has been this spring. Going into the Grove Bowl, Freeze said one had a... read more
Former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer almost did not sign Chucky Mullins, whose memory has been honored with the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. Nate Wayne, a four-year letterman for the Rebels and the 1997 recipient of the award, who... read more
#RebelNation here are the Red and Blue rosters for tomorrow's Regions Bank Grove Bowl. See you there! pic.twitter.com/FZptUEkW4P-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) April 10, 2015 Three areas to watch as Ole Miss splits into two teams for the annual Regions... read more
Junior cornerback Tee Shepard's story has been well-documented. Shepard is hearing impaired, but since he has arrived at Ole Miss, he has been the beneficiary of new hearing technology that has allowed him to hear sounds, such as a coach's... read more