Re-'Building' Ole Miss Tennis

Billy Chadwick's current office is a trailer. That can only mean one thing. Construction has begun on the renovation and expansion of the two-decade-old Palmer-Salloum Tennis Center.

The same might be said about Chadwick's Rebel tennis team, at least the renovation part. After not living up to the expectations in the spring of 2011 for which his program had come to be known the past 20 years, the Rebels are working their way back to the top of college tennis.

The head coach of the men's tennis program at Ole Miss for three decades looks forward to both – a larger, better home for his program, and also a climb back up among the nation's best teams.

"It was one of those years we were really unfortunate," Chadwick said, even though his team made the NCAA Tournament for the 18th year in a row and advanced to the second round before losing to UCLA.

Senior stalwart Kalle Norberg was injured most of the last two years of his career, from a back situation to a foot situation. Senior Tucker Vorster had some back problems this year. Another big setback for the team was Nik Scholtz, a freshman, not being eligible.

There was a single transcript problem flagged by the NCAA, and the talented South African had to sit out the 2010-11 school year. He remained at Ole Miss and is now eligible. Chadwick knows he can be a difference maker and would have been this past year had he been able to participate with the team in matches.

"If Kalle is healthy, we're top 15 in the country," Chadwick said. "If Nik Scholtz is eligible, we're top 5 in the country. That's where we normally are. Those things happen sometimes."

Upon arrival in Oxford last August, Scholtz was the No. 1 ranked junior in South Africa and had achieved a career high of No. 22 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Junior Rankings. He was also No. 6 in the South African men's rankings.

Chadwick said the fact that Scholtz, a strong 6-foot-5 player with a pro-level serve, chose to stay at Ole Miss without playing speaks to his commitment to the Rebels and to college tennis in general.

"He's very mature with a great work ethic, and he's one of these kids that has a lot of confidence in his talent and in his career. He knows he needs to spend some time developing different areas. It's hard to recognize that when you're a kid. He loves it here at Ole Miss. Otherwise he would never have stayed and not played."

Marcel Thiemann
File Photo
Chadwick said Scholtz is projected as his team's No. 1 singles player this upcoming year and is one of the best players in all of college tennis.

Also added to the team are incoming freshmen Joe Rogers of Great Britain and Zach Wilder of Oxford High School.

Chadwick said the returning players were at the top of their games when the season ended in round two of the NCAA Tournament.

"We were very excited with Marcel Thiemann making the quarterfinals of the NCAAs," he said, which was the second year in a row for Marcel to advance that far. "Jonas Lutjen played absolutely fantastic at the end of the year. Chris Thiemann, Johan Backstrom, and Adrian Forberg Skokeng were playing well."

Chadwick said the renovations and improvements to the facility are needed and important to the future of the two programs.

"We're reconfiguring the inside of the present building," he said. "It will house head coaches' offices (men and women), assistant coaches' offices (men and women), a room for a stringer, and visitors' locker rooms."

The current building will be expanded on each end. There won't be any adjustments to the actual courts themselves except for new fencing. The changes are all in the building and stands area.

"What we're adding new on each wing is a team locker room and meeting area (one for men, one for women). The thing that's cool with that (for fans) is they will be able to walk from the (current) stands on top of the building on a walkway to the top of each of the wings. There will be a covered viewing area with a canvas awning, a really nice addition that everyone will be extremely pleased with."

Chadwick said the progress and growth of the program is mirrored with the need for greater facilities.

"We're extremely excited. We feel like we have one of the best venues in the country. But we've outgrown it. When we built it 21 years ago, there were no assistant coaches' offices. We've had one room shared by two assistant coaches, and it was also used as a team meeting room for both teams, as a stringing room, and as a training room during tournaments. We love the location and the setting, and now we are enhancing that to really help the student-athlete. It's a big benefit for everybody."

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