By Mary Ashton Nall Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
In 2011, Ole Miss women’s tennis highlighted its signing class with two blue-chip recruits out of Florida. Now in their junior years, Julia Jones and Erin Stephens are contributing to the program with wins on the court and with leadership roles on the team.
Stephens, a native of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., was the first to commit to play for the Rebels in her senior year of high school. Jones committed later in the year as a junior, having earned enough college credits to attend Ole Miss one year early. Being familiar with each other from junior tennis, the duo decided to room together freshman year and has been roommates all three years in Oxford.
“With them coming in a couple of years ago, they’ve really made their mark on Ole Miss tennis,” said head coach Mark Beyers. “They came in together and from day one were a big part of the team.”
In Stephens’ freshman year at Ole Miss, she made the All-SEC Freshman team and was named SEC Player of the week twice. In her sophomore year, she posted winning records in singles and doubles to help lead the Rebels to their fifth straight and 16th overall NCAA appearance. She also received All-SEC honors.
Jones was also named to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2011. She ended last year with a No. 12 ranking in the ITA Southern Region and received All-SEC honors. This fall, she won the singles title at the Country Club of Little Rock Invitational and owns a 9-3 record.
“I’ve had the best fall season since I’ve been here this year. I practiced a lot over the summer so I’d be ready to go right into the season,” said Jones. “I just hope to keep it going. I want to get a high ranking in the spring and hopefully earn All-SEC and maybe All-American honors.”
Stephens and Jones’ success in the classroom matches their wins on the court. Both student-athletes have been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll twice, as well as the University Honor Roll every semester. Jones has also been named an ITA Scholar Athlete both years, an honor given to tennis players who achieve a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.5.
“They are just such great kids,” said Beyers. “Beyond the wins they bring to the team, they are great students, great kids and just great to have around in terms of inspiration and work ethic.”
Stephens and Jones say they welcome the leadership responsibility that comes with being upperclassmen.
“It’s definitely a big responsibility to set a good example for the team,” said Jones. “We have to check up on the younger girls and make sure they are doing ok.”
Stephens said that while it’s important to lead by example, her teammates are self-driven and committed to winning as a team.
In the women’s team lounge area at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center there is a poster with a list of team goals for the 2013-14 campaign. Along with SEC and NCAA aspirations, the Rebels are determined to always practice with a purpose, hold teammates accountable and always be the loudest and most positive team at every match.
“I think it should be a really great season because last year we were a really young team and now it’s all the same players coming back,” said Stephens. “We have a lot more experience and talent going into the season.”
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 21-27, 2015Baseball - During the five-game homestand, Ole Miss went 3-2 with a midweek win over Central Arkansas as well as claiming a weekend series over Alabama. - The Rebels recorded 68 hits throughout... read more
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