Chadwick, a nice guy who finished first…

Cleveland

Leo Durocher once said, “Nice guys finish last.”

Wrong.

Billy Chadwick, who today announced his retirement as tennis coach at Ole Miss, is positive proof that Leo the Lip was dead wrong.

Ole Miss did finish last in the SEC in tennis, but that was the year before Chadwick took the job.

Since then, Chadwick, a really nice guy who grew up in southwest Jackson, has led the Rebels to unprecedented tennis success. He has won and won and won some more. He always did so with class and with athletes who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the tennis courts.

His teams finished first in the SEC five times. His teams won 10 SEC division titles.

Chadwick’s teams have made 20 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. His teams have finished ranked in the nation’s top five seven times, and have earned a top 10 ranking 15 times.

There’s more: The Rebels have won 18 Southeastern Conference team titles, including five overall SEC Championships, 10 Western Division titles and three SEC Tournament Championships. With his fifth overall SEC Championship in 2009, Chadwick trails only legendary Ole Miss football coach John Vaught in SEC titles won at the University of Mississippi. Vaught won six conference titles in 1947, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962 and 1963.

Indeed, perhaps the best measuring stick of Chadwick’s success: He was as successful in tennis as Vaught was in football. Chadwick’s overall coaching record at Ole Miss 647-298. He never finished last.

Chadwick’s Hall of Fame ties are many. He first took tennis lessons from Hall of Famer Martha Ann Vest. He played tennis at then-Belhaven College for Hall of Famer Charles Rugg. He was hired at Ole Miss by Hall of Famer Warner Alford.

Said current Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork:“Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for Coach Billy Chadwick and all he has done in 34 years to build a top-flight tennis program. Coach Chadwick personifies Ole Miss tennis in so many ways that coming to the point of retirement was hard for both of us. Billy has produced the most consistent and successful sports program we host at Ole Miss – both in the classroom and on the court. His development of young men has produced multiple generations of highly successful student-athletes, and his impact will be felt for a long time. This will be a fun season to watch Billy roam the sidelines one more time. He will always be a Rebel and a part of our program.”

Associate head coach Toby Hansson will take the reins of the Ole Miss program following the season.

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