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Scholtz Joins Elite Group

The Ole Miss tennis program continues it's rich tradition under head coach Billy Chadwick of producing the best player in the country's toughest conference.  Today, the SEC office announced junior and two-time All-American Nik Scholtz as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.  Scholtz becomes the fourth player for Ole Miss to earn the prestigious award and the first player in Ole Miss tennis history to be named SEC Freshman of the Year and SEC Player of the Year in his career.

Following an exceptional regular season, Scholtz continued his dominant play in the SEC Tournament going 2-0, and rising to No.9 in the national rankings as the highest ranked player in the SEC.  Scholtz boasted a 15-1 record at No. 1 singles, including 8-1 in the SEC.  The SEC currently has seven teams ranked inside the top 25 in the ITA National Rankings.

The South African native 12-time ATP Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi and three-time All-Americans Johan Hede and Catalin Gard as Rebels to be named SEC Player of the Year.  
Below is a quick look at all the Rebels' SEC Players of the Year.

SEC PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Thumbnail image for Scholtz_SECPOY.jpg2014 - Nik Scholtz
Singles Record:
8-1 SEC
Highest Singles Ranking: No. 9

Notes: Scholtz became the first player in Ole Miss tennis history to earn SEC Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors in his career.  With the Rebels awaiting their postseason destination, Scholtz has positioned himself nicely for a run at the NCAA Singles Championship. Scholtz led the Rebels to some huge conference wins down the stretch to secure the Rebels a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st consecutive season. 

gard_catalin041004_blog.jpg2004 - Catalin Gard
Singles Record:
10-1 SEC
Highest Singles Ranking: No.1 (24 straight weeks)

Notes: Gard led the Rebels to the overall SEC Championship and their third straight SEC West title in 2004.  A three-time All-American, he was also the 2004 ITA All-American Champion and ended his career as the second winningest player in Ole Miss history with 112 wins.

1996 - Johan Hede
Singles Record:
11-0 SEC
Highest Ranking: No. 4Clincher_1995_blog.jpg

Notes: Finishing the season as the SEC's highest ranked player, Hede won the 1996 SEC Singles Championship and was a 1996 NCAA Singles semifinalist. He was also a three-time All-America selection as well as a three-time All-SEC selection, going undefeated in conference play in 1996.  Hede qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships all four years and stands as the all-time winningest player in Ole Miss tennis history with 135 wins.

Bhupathi_Mahesh95ncaa_blog.jpg1995 - Mahesh Bhupathi
Combined Singles and Doubles Record:
15-3 SEC
Highest Ranking: No.1 in doubles, No. 3 in singles

Notes: Bhupathi became the first Rebel to be named SEC Player of the Year.  He was the 1995 SEC Singles Champion and teamed with Ali Hamadeh to win the NCAA Doubles Championship, the school's first ever NCAA title.  Bhupathi also helped lead the Rebels to the NCAA Championship Final and a final national ranking of No. 3.  Bhupathi has won 12 ATP Grand Slam titles in doubles.


Chadwick Top Moments: No. 23

Hede_Johan050.jpgProceeding from 1995 to 1996, we will highlight moment No. 23 in head coach Billy Chadwick's career.  This particular moment will accentuate a tremendous individual accomplishment.  In 1996, Sweden's Johan Hede became the first Rebel in Ole Miss tennis history to go undefeated throughout Southeastern Conference play.

Hede managed his way through SEC play unscathed with a perfect 11-0 record, and helped lead the Rebels to a 21-3 overall record and the team's first ever SEC Championship.  Hede ended the 1996 campaign ranked No. 4 in the country, highest among SEC players.  The three-time All-American was also named 1996 SEC Player of the Year, marking the second consecutive season for a Rebel to win the award (Mahesh Bhupathi in 1995).  Hede defeated 18 ranked players throughout his memorable season.  The victims include, but are not limited to, No. 9 ranked Thomas Dupre (twice) of Mississippi State, and No. 7 ranked Cedric Kauffman (current head coach of Kentucky) to clinch his perfect conference season.

Additionally, Hede won the SEC Singles Championship, and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship.  

Hede helped lead the Rebels to a NCAA Tournament quarterfinals appearance, and his individual efforts did not go unnoticed by Chadwick.  "It is a tribute to Johan to show such determination," Chadwick said following the 1996 season.  "When you watch him play, you notice how hard he makes the other players work.  Johan had a phenomenal year.  He was a key part to the overall success of our team."

Friday, we will remain in 1996 and feature the man who has orchestrated the abundant success for the tennis program.  Stay tuned for moment No. 22.

Chadwick Top Moments: No. 26

Clincher_1995.jpgComing in at No. 26 is the second of four moments to occur in the historic year of 1995.  Arguably the greatest moment on the list, the Rebels ended a record-setting season in the granddaddy of them all as it relates to college tennis.  

Coach Billy Chadwick led his team to the NCAA Team Championship Final as the Rebels defeated No. 2 ranked Georgia in front of 5,000 screaming Bulldog fans watching at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.  

Johan Hede delivered the knockout blow and silenced the crowd with a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Georgia's Eddie Jacques.  After losing the first set 6-4, Hede rallied to win the final two sets 6-4, 7-5 to clinch the 4-3 victory for the Rebels.  Hede, then just a sophomore, faced several break points in the last set, but each time he held.  Jacques visibly cramping, could barely move in the last game, and Hede took advantage, painting a forehand winner on match point as his Rebel teammates mobbed him on the court.

"This victory is a tribute to the hard work of this team, said Chadwick, moments after one of the biggest wins in his career. "It took a great effort to defeat Georgia on their home court.  I am proud of our players for their outstanding performance."

Before Hede could be the hero, the Rebels had to rally after dropping the doubles point for the second day in a row. Mahesh Bhupathi, the SEC Player of the Year, won in straight sets at No. 1 singles and then Ali Hamadeh won his match at No. 3 singles to make it 2-1 Rebels.  After Georgia claimed consecutive matches at four and five singles, senior Van vanLingen finished off a comeback win at No. 6 singles, winning 6-4 in the third to even the match at 3-3.

During this prolific run, the Rebels knocked out No. 11 and two-time defending champion Southern California 4-3, and perennial power No. 3 Pepperdine 4-2.  The Rebels would fall to No. 1 Stanford in the Championship match, giving the Cardinals a perfect 27-0 record. 

1995finalteam.jpgAs we are only halfway through our moments from the exciting year of 1995, stay tuned for our next history-making moment.  Here's a clue: it involves the 1995 SEC Player of the Year.

Follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissMTennis and on Facebook at OleMissMTennis.

Special assistance by Ole Miss Media Relations student Wesley Boock.

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