Hansson brings strong resume' to UM tennis

The European connection, especially the Swedish one, has been strong for Ole Miss men's tennis for years. When head coach Billy Chadwick added assistant Toby Hansson to his staff a year ago, that important connection became even stronger.

Hansson, a native of Bjärred, Sweden who played collegiately at SMU, was an assistant coach at Texas Tech in 2004-05, where he helped lead the Red Raiders to the NCAA final 16 and their best season ever. The team finished with a 25-4 record, and was ranked as high as No. 9 in the country at one point during the year.

Hansson graduated from SMU in 2000 with a B.A. in International Studies. Following his stint as an assistant in Lubbock, he went back home and received his masters in International Studies from Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, in June of 2006.

When former Ole Miss assistant coach Jeff Clark left Oxford last summer, Chadwick gave Hansson a call. It's been a terrific marriage between Hansson and the men's tennis program at Ole Miss. It's basically a natural as Hansson strengthens those Rebel ties to Scandanavia and other European countries.

Hansson, an All-American player in singles and doubles at SMU as well as team captain his senior season, said his first year at Ole Miss was special.

"It's been a great experience, and a pleasure working with Coach (Chadwick)," Hansson said. "He's made me feel welcome. I knew from the start we were going to have a good chance at having a good season. We accomplished a lot, and I've had a great experience so far."

Hansson knew several of the Rebels who played in the program prior to his arrival in Oxford. The connection back home allowed for that and also as a college player himself in the United States.

"When I was playing at SMU, Ole Miss was always a team that I looked on and said they have a lot of great players," he said. "They were very skillful individually, and they had some very good teams. I knew every single Swedish player they had here, either by name or personally very well."

While most college tennis programs look far and wide for players, Hansson says no program in the country has developed the pipeline to talent-laden Sweden like Ole Miss has.

"They've always gotten the best Swedish junior players who didn't want to go pro to come here," he said. "It's been a very strong connection."

Hansson said he doesn't know how much of a factor that played into him getting the Ole Miss position last summer.

"I don't know all the reasons I was offered the job," he said. "I have some experience coaching and playing. Maybe Billy had been talking to other people (about him), because he hadn't talked to me a lot in the past. I knew him but not much more than that. It's nice to know that some other people might have said some good things about me and said he might want to call me. I guess it's not a coincidence that I happen to be from Sweden as well."

Hansson has been around the game all his life. His father, Roland, has worked with the Swedish Tennis Federation and the International Tennis Federation for many years. He worked with top 10 players in the world, with junior Davis Cup, and with other outstanding junior players who became top world players, like Mats Wilander and Mikael Pernfors.

"It's very special that he was able to come over here," Hansson said of his father's recent visit to Oxford for the NCAA Regional and to Athens, Ga., for the NCAA Championships. "He hasn't experienced this before. He did see me play as a college player, but he didn't have the opportunity to come at this time (in the postseason) when I played. For him to spend these weeks with the team is really nice for me and for him to see what I've done as a player and as a coach."

Hansson says coaching might continue to be in his future, but there could be other options. He's planned for both.

"That's why I got an education," he said of the options for his future. "But I certainly look forward to trying to stay here. Working with Billy is a great opportunity for me to get the necessary skills and experience I need to take the next step. Hopefully that will happen someday. It's something I would seriously consider doing if I have the opportunity."

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