By Kim Ling Associate Athletics Media Relations Director
Taylor Vaughn had a good situation at UNCW. After concluding his career there as a player, he returned to Wilmington where he recently wrapped up his sixth year as an assistant coach. The Seahawks were a top 45 program on the rise and landed a top 25 recruiting class this past year. Why leave a place he called home for almost 10 years to come to Ole Miss?
"It was tough to leave my alma mater. I love UNCW and I love Wilmington," Vaughn said. "We have a house there, we had a great team there and we were making history. At the end of the day, I wanted to be closer to my family, which is in New Orleans, and have an opportunity to work with Toby Hansson and be around this great tradition. It's a great next step for me. I am excited to be here."
While he worked at UNCW, Vaughn knew of Ole Miss from afar as a traditional tennis power, but now he's excited to uncover the inner-workings of an elite program.
"I knew Ole Miss was a traditional power, but I always saw them from the outside," Vaughn said. "I didn't know a lot about their internal operations, I just knew they had a lot of great history and a lot of great players. Coach (Billy) Chadwick and Toby obviously did a great job and I knew that they were very successful here."
Vaughn had previously met Hansson once through a mutual friend.
"I met Toby through one of his good friends, Patrick Spach (played basketball and worked in the UMAA Foundation at Ole Miss), who was a fundraiser at UNCW. When the job came open I sent a letter to Toby and let him know of my interest and it went from there."
Part of the lure of Ole Miss for Vaughn was a chance to work with another great coach who has a similar passion for the game.
"I learned from a really great coach (Mait DuBois) at UNCW. He had a style that I liked," Vaughn said. "I am excited to see Toby's style and how he interacts with players and to form our own philosophy. That's what I am most excited about, to see something different and experience a different way.
"In tennis there are a lot of different philosophies, and I think our strengths are very similar. For us to have a conversation about tennis for three hours is nothing out of the ordinary. We both just love tennis."
Vaughn's journey to Ole Miss began as child growing up in Louisiana playing tennis with his dad, who he acknowledged was a pretty good recreational player.
"We used to go out and hit, and he would toss me some tennis balls in the garage," Vaughn said. "I played a lot of junior tournaments growing up until about 12 or 13 years old and then stepped away from the game for a few years. I picked it back up when I was about 16 or 17. I started my college career at Louisiana-Monroe and then transferred to UNCW."
A lot of players want to take that next step to the professional ranks, but Vaughn admits to knowing early on that his future was not in professional tennis.
"When I was a player, I always tried to be the best I could be, but the reality was I wasn't good enough to play at the top level. I thought it was a good time to get into coaching, and I always enjoyed teaching the game and helping people reach their goals."
It worked out well for Vaughn. After spending one year with the Louisiana-Monroe women's team, he returned to his alma mater and helped lead the UNCW men to five NCAA appearances and four Colonial Athletic Association Championships.
Vaughn helped bring in outstanding talent to Wilmington, including recent two-time CAA Player-of-the-Year Rafael Aita. The Seahawks most recent recruiting class earned a ranking of No. 23 by TennisRecruiting.net, ahead of several top-25 teams.
The Rebels signed one of the top recruiting classes, and Vaughn looks forward to working with Hansson to continue bringing in top talent to Oxford.
"At UNCW we were a top 45 program every year, so we had good teams," Vaughn said. "The biggest difference is being able to get your foot in the door with recruits by using the Ole Miss name. The name ultimately has great credibility."
Vaughn is busy helping Hansson get ready for the start of a new year, while familiarizing himself with his new team.
Vaughn is settling in to Oxford and looks forward to helping Hansson put his own stamp on Ole Miss Tennis.
"It all starts with recruiting," Vaughn said. "We have to recruit guys who love tennis, who want to be part of the Ole Miss tradition and then when they get here, developing them to be better. It's about consistently putting guys in a position to help them fulfill their pro aspirations. If we can develop the players to take that next step it will speak volumes."
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