Thirty-five years ago, then Ole Miss Athletics Director Warner Alford offered Billy Chadwick the job of coaching the Ole Miss women’s tennis team. The rest as they say is history.
Wednesday night, Chadwick was among seven coaches and players inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame in a ceremony held here in conjunction with the NCAA Championships.
Chadwick joined 1995 NCAA Doubles Champion Mahesh Bhupathi, who was inducted in 2010, as Rebels in the ITA Hall of Fame.
“It’s a tremendous honor. I think back to all the great coaches that are in the hall of fame, many who I’ve competed against,” Chadwick said. “I never could have dreamed this up when I started. We were just trying to get out of the cellar. A lot of our success throughout the years has been a credit to the tremendous players we’ve had here. They mean a lot to Ole Miss and they mean a lot to me. This honor is 100 percent because of them. I’ve had great assistant coaches, great players and a great support staff. It’s been a rewarding, fantastic journey.”
Also a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame, Chadwick ranks sixth in the NCAA with a record of 663-312 (.680).
Chadwick began his coaching career with the Lady Rebels in 1979, and in 1982 he led the Lady Rebels to the SEC finals, AIAW Nationals and the program’s first top 20 national ranking.
In 1983, Chadwick took over the men’s program, which at the time was last in the conference. In 31 years with Chadwick at the helm, the Rebels became one of the top teams in the country on and off the courts.
Chadwick’s teams made 21 consecutive NCAA appearances, including the NCAA Team Championship Final, the NCAA Semifinals four times, the NCAA Quarterfinals nine times and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen 16 times. A mainstay in the national rankings, his teams finished ranked in the nation’s top five seven times, and earned a top 10 ranking 15 times.
The Rebels won 18 Southeastern Conference team titles, including five overall SEC Championships, 10 Western Division titles and three SEC Tournament Championships.
Individually, Chadwick has coached three NCAA Champions, six SEC Champions, 28 All-Americans, 73 All-SEC selections and 76 NCAA individual qualifiers. Seven of his players have been ranked No. 1 in the nation. His players have earned numerous ITA national and regional awards, including Mississippi native Dave Randall winning the Rafael Osuna National Sportsmanship Award in 1989.
Chadwick was named USPTA National College Coach of the Year in 2009 and has been named SEC Coach of the Year three times (1996, 2004 and 2009).
While Chadwick’s teams have ranked among the nation’s elite, they have been just as impressive off the court. The Rebels won the Chancellor’s Cup 10 times, awarded each year to the men’s and women’s varsity sports with the highest cumulative grade point average. Nationally, the Rebels have been named an ITA All-Academic Team eight times, awarded to teams with a minimum 3.2 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
Individually, the Rebels have had 20 players earn national ITA Scholar-Athlete honors, four Capital One Academic All-Americans, 13 Capital One Academic All-District honorees and in 2009 the SEC Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year (league’s top male student-athlete).
Many of Chadwick’s players have made their mark on the professional tour, including Mississippians Dave Randall and NCAA Champion Devin Britton, as well as NCAA Champion Mahesh Bhupathi, who has won 12 grand slams and achieved a career-high world ranking of No. 1 in doubles.
The Class of 2014 ITA Hall of Fame inductees also includes coaches Timon Corwin (Kalamazoo) and James Wadley (Oklahoma State); players Matt Anger (USC), Juan Farrow (Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville) and Alex Kim (Stanford) and contributor, Doug Conant (Northwestern).