Ole Miss head men's tennis coach Billy Chadwick remembers that former player Kristofer Stahlberg was a tenacious, consistent, relentless, level-headed competitor during his playing days with the Rebels from 1999-2002. The native of Sweden has taken that same level of effort and commitment to his new work as the head tennis professional at Bayou Bluff Tennis Club in Gulfport.
"Kristofer was a great competitor for us," said Chadwick, who has been
with the Ole Miss tennis program for a quarter of a century now. "I
remember so many matches he played for us here that his will to win
and his consistent demeanor really helped him to come through with a
victory. That he has taken that same type of approach to his
professional career is no surprise to me."
Stahlberg has been at Bayou Bluff since January 2004. He was hired
there as an assistant to head pro Nick Barone, also a former Ole Miss
tennis player. But Barone left for another job shortly thereafter, and
soon it was Stahlberg who was heading things up for the more than 400
members and their families.
"I graduated from Ole Miss in May 2003 and decided to try to play
professionally," said Stahlberg, now 26. "I played mostly in New
Zealand and in Germany, and I also had offers to teach and coach in
those places. But the opportunity came up here as well, and I felt
this is the place I needed to be."
Stahlberg rose through the ranks at Ole Miss from a No. 6 singles
player early in his career to playing No. 1 at times as a junior to
settling in as the solid No. 2 singles player his senior season as
well as a part of the No. 1 doubles team. He says his time in Oxford
was special in a lot of ways.
"Obviously my time at Ole Miss is very close to my heart," said
Stahlberg, who along with fellow Swede Martin Selin were a big part of
Ole Miss tennis for four spring seasons. "Competing with my teammates
there and playing for the coaches were special to me. And representing
the University of Mississippi was something I was very proud of."
And he still is. He comes into daily contact at his job with many Ole
"There are a lot of Ole Miss alums here," he said. "We always have a
lot to talk about and I enjoy them. That makes this job even more
special to me."
Stahlberg has two assistants on staff. He feels there are a lot of
good things happening with the tennis program there, and he loves
being able to introduce the game to youngsters or to help them
"It is great to be able to help kids become more interested in the
sport of tennis," said Stahlberg, who assisted the Ole Miss program
the year after he finished playing while he was still in school. "We
want to reach more kids this way and to give them guidance from
coaches and instructors who can help them. We want them to work harder
and smarter at their games and to enjoy playing tennis and become
He specifically has that in mind for kids in Mississippi.
"I want them here to be as hungry to play good tennis as ones in other
states or in other countries," sadi Stahlberg, who says he even has a
little time to keep his own game in shape - but not much. "I believe
what we do here can help tennis in this state, and that it is also
good for the kids as they continue to play the sport."
Stahlberg is in charge of all tennis operations at Bayou Bluff. He
oversees everything from juniors through adults, from beginners to
"I really have been focusing a lot on the juniors," said Stahlberg.
"I've have been working hard with the under 18s. When I was younger I
was a part of the Swedish Tennis Association Elite Academy. I have
tried to implement a lot of the same things here that are done there.
I am using some of the techniques and teachings here that I learned
Stahlberg says he is already seeing young players develop as his
program is now well into its second year.
"We have a couple of No. 1 players in the state in their age groups,"
he said. "We have a couple more that are right behind them."
Stahlberg realizes that the tennis programs at Mississippi and
Mid-South area colleges will benefit from what he and others are
doing. Former Chadwick players now teach in Grenada (Barone), Jackson
(Dave Randall), Tunica (Keith Evans), and Memphis (Ali Hamadeh), as
well as what Stahlberg is doing on the Gulf Coast.
"I believe it is important for the universities in Mississippi to have
stronger junior programs in the state and area," he said. "I can see
that we are making a move in that direction."
Chadwick says it is all very exciting to him that so many of his
former players are having an impact on tennis in the region.
"We take a lot of pride in our program, and we also take a lot of
pride and interest in what our alums are doing," he said. "What
Kristofer and the others are doing in their careers is just
outstanding and we're very pleased about it."
Stahlberg says the future of tennis in the state of Mississippi is bright.
"I feel we have a good program here and are doing some great things,"
Stahlberg said. "Everything seems to be going great, and I look
forward to the future of helping tennis players here continue to
improve and enjoy playing the game."
Stahlberg helps lift tennis in Mississippi
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