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 ReviewAug. 25-31, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss opened the 2014 season with a 35-13 win over Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.- The Rebels led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter... read more
The SEC Storied documentary "It's Time," centered on the the inspirational friendship between former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines and former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins, will premiere on Tuesday on the Vanderbilt campus and will debut on... read more
This is a new concept we've created for the Ole Miss Sports Blog that we're calling Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations... read more
The No. 18 Ole Miss football team won the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game defeating Boise State 35-13. The Rebels move into Southeastern Conference next week with a road test at Vanderbilt from Nashville's LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The... read more
ATLANTA -- Boise State had been the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 40.2 points per game dating back to the 2000 season. Highlighted by four interceptions, eight tackles for loss and big hits by several different players, the... read more
ATLANTA -- After an up-and-down first half, which included a touchdown and three interceptions, senior quarterback Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss offense found their stride in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Leading 7-6 early in the... read more
Three areas to watch as Ole Miss opens its 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Boise State from Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Contrast in Experience Boise State has one of the youngest teams in the country with 67 freshmen... read more
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