The Next Chapter

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Toby Hansson
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Toby Hansson
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

July 3, 2014

By Kim Ling,
Associate Athletics Media Relations Director

Eight years ago, Toby Hansson got a phone call from then-Ole Miss men’s tennis head coach Billy Chadwick with an opportunity to become the assistant coach. Hansson accepted the offer and the rest is history.  

Earlier this year, Hansson was tapped by athletics director Ross Bjork to replace Chadwick when the latter announced he would retire at the end of the 2014 season.

Hansson’s road to becoming the seventh head coach in Ole Miss men’s tennis history began as a child growing up in Bjärred, Sweden.  His father played tennis and has been involved with the sport for over 40 years. Tennis was all around Hansson and soon he picked up a racquet and started hitting balls. Hansson enjoyed several different sports as a kid, but settled on tennis.

“I basically tried every sport, but tennis was the one I was doing the best in and I had a lot of fun.  I had a lot of early success and in my junior career I continued having success,” Hansson said.

Through a connection from a family friend, Hansson left his home in Sweden as a junior player to go live with a family (Herschel and Kathleen Hodges) in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from Highland Park High School, Hansson received several scholarship offers from schools around the country, including SMU.

“I had a lot of support from the Hodges,” Hansson said. “I played several junior events and did quite well in Texas.  I got recruited by a few schools, including SMU. Since I was living close by, I decided to give it a try. I feel like for me it was a great choice. I enjoyed it.”

The Mustangs were on the rise when Hansson joined the program in 1997. He helped lead them to two WAC championships, three consecutive NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two top-15 national finishes. Hansson earned All-America honors in singles and doubles and was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2000 and first team all-conference for both singles and doubles.  He was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in doubles and No. 13 in singles for the Mustangs.

Hansson graduated from SMU in 2000 and played professionally on the Futures Circuit before realizing something about himself.

“I discovered early on that I liked to help younger players.  When I was playing, I would give advice to all the younger players around.  It was natural for me to help out when I could.  After a few years of playing on the circuit, I got a phone call from the head coach at Texas Tech (Tim Siegel).  I didn’t know him that well, but I had competed against his assistant coach [at the time], Efe Ustundag, who is now the head coach at Rice. I decided to take the opportunity to be his assistant.  We had a great year [in 2005], finished No. 9 in the country and played Ole Miss in the [NCAA] round of 16.  We had the best year that Texas Tech has ever had, and I really enjoyed it.”

After one year of coaching, Hansson returned to Sweden and earned his master’s degree in international studies, while still trying to figure out exactly what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.  On a visit to his host family in Dallas in the summer of 2006, Hansson received a phone call from Coach Chadwick hoping to persuade Hansson to give coaching a try again.

“He wanted me to come badly, and I felt like he really cared,” Hansson said. “He said if I didn’t like it, he could help me out in the direction I wanted to go. It worked out and it didn’t take me long to realize this is actually what I want to do.  I got great response from the guys on the team. I feel like that was probably the most important thing to convince me that I was on the right path.”

The relationship was mutually beneficial to all parties.  During his eight years alongside Chadwick, Hansson helped the Rebels maintain their tradition of excellence on and off the court, while learning the ins and outs of running a championship program.

“There are so many things I’ve learned from coach. He’s taught me to look at things from a positive angle at all times.  I’ve also learned to focus and pay attention to all the details. He stays involved in everything he does and is very meticulous in his work.  He taught me to be grateful for what you have around you every day and for the people you have around you and treat them like family.”

In Hansson’s eight seasons with the program as an assistant and most recently associate head coach, the Rebels finished among the nation’s top 10 four times and the top 15 five times. During that span, the Rebels produced the most All-Americans in the country with 11, including the most in the country in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Hansson has been preparing for this moment for the last eight years, largely involved in the day-to-day running of the program, especially in recruiting.

“I am very happy that Coach Chadwick gave me the opportunity to be very active in the process,” Hansson said.  “He gave me a lot of confidence and a lot of freedom to go out there and find talent.  He showed me what to look for in a player.  I think we’ve done a really good job with all the individual accolades that all the players have received. I would like to say that we’ve both been successful at getting a lot of great players, and I want to continue to do that.”

Hansson is looking forward to putting his stamp on the program and building on the foundation that Chadwick laid.

“When you are around someone for eight years and talk to them on a daily basis, you can’t help but be influenced by the things that they say or do and the lessons you learn,” Hansson said. “No matter how much I try to be like him, I could never be Billy Chadwick.  I can always be Toby Hansson and that’s what I will do.”

When Bjork and Chadwick discussed his retiring, Chadwick made it known that Hansson was ready to take over a program he had built to prominence.

“Toby is one of the top young coaches in the country,” Chadwick said. “We’ve been very fortunate in that a lot of our success stems directly to him. For him to take over, what you’re going to see is we’re not even going to have a bump in the road. The program’s in great hands.”

The good thing for the returning players and incoming freshmen, they know what to expect with Hansson as their new coach.

“We have respect for each other and I feel like the transition will be very smooth, Hansson said. “They respond well to me and they are a great group of guys.  I am very fortunate to be working with them and I am thankful for the opportunity that Ross and Lynnette (Johnson) have given me.”

The Rebels will 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 next season.

“I feel like we have a very competitive team and my focus will be on helping them develop and improve every single day,” Hansson said. “If you improve every day, the results will come. I am really looking forward to next year.  I have a great feeling about this group of guys. They are a hard-working group and are all willing to do what it takes to win every day.  We have the foundation and opportunity to do something big next year.”

The next chapter in Ole Miss men’s tennis begins now.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 19

      Sunday, October 19, 2014 - Athletics

      It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations surrounding the Homecoming festivities this weekend. Let's get into it:1. When "College GameDay" visits Baton Rouge,... read more

    • Winning Formula for Rebels is No Secret

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      The winning formula revealed itself as it has throughout the season: a dominant defense and a mistake-free offense. The Ole Miss defense forced four turnovers, while the Ole Miss offense did not commit a single turnover in a workmanlike 34-3... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Tennessee Motivational

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Tennessee Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Tennessee

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss faces Tennessee for Homecoming on Saturday.'Third Down for What'Tennessee is very dangerous, Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze said, because its talented, particularly if it gets momentum and confidence during... read more

    • SEC Nation Talent Talks Ole Miss on Visit

      Friday, October 17, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from today's media opportunity with SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears discussing the show's visit to Oxford for the SEC matchup between No. 3 Ole Miss and Tennessee. Tessitore recalls calling the first college... read more

    • What They're Saying: Midseason Honors

      Friday, October 17, 2014 - Football

      At the halfway point of the regular season, Ole Miss is 6-0 for the first time since 1962, when it went 10-0 and earned a share of the national title. It's No. 3 ranking in the national polls is its... read more

    • Rebels Slow Offensive Tempo

      Thursday, October 16, 2014 - Football

      With a dominant defense that ranks among the nation's leaders in most statistical categories, head coach Hugh Freeze acknowledged he has changed his offensive philosophy and play-calling to limit negative plays and quick possessions. Ole Miss averaged the second-most offensive... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 7

      Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 7 - Texas A&M (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Freeze Talks Defense, Tennessee

      Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of Saturday's game in Oxford. For the full SEC teleconference, go here. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (starts at... read more

    • VIDEO: Studio 18 Live 10.15.14

      Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - Athletics

      read more

    • VIDEO: 'Can't Be Denied' Hype Video

      Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • VIDEO: Bo Wallace on The Dan Patrick Show

      Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Game-Manager Bo

      Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - Football

      Head coach Hugh Freeze admitted the offense played well enough to manage the game and let the defense win it.  Ole Miss leaned on its running game, rushing for 160 yards on 35 carries, while Bo Wallace completed 13-of-19 passes... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Oct. 6-12)

      Monday, October 13, 2014 - Rifle

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewOct. 6-12, 2014Football- The No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels showed they belong among the nation's upper crust with a dominating 35-20 win at No. 14 Texas A&M on Saturday.- Ole Miss jumped out to a... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 12

      Sunday, October 12, 2014 - Athletics

      In this week's edition of Observations from the Best Seat in the House, Metz Camfield and I teamed up to give you our thoughts and opinions of the week that was in Ole Miss athletics. I was able to travel... read more