A trip to Jackson on Friday will be especially memorable for Ole Miss men’s tennis coach Billy Chadwick.Although Chadwick is a native of South Jackson and won countless tennis matches in Mississippi’s capitol city — both as both a player and a coach — his induction into the Tennis Foundation of Mississippi Hall of Fame on Friday night will go down as his biggest accomplishment.
“It’s just a tremendous, tremendous honor to be inducted in the Mississippi Tennis Foundation Hall of Fame. It means so much to me because it’s such a small group of people and because it’s with all the players I grew up with,” said Chadwick, who will join Steve Pennington as the two members of the 2010 class. “This is a very special honor for me. I grew up in South Jackson and played on those courts down there. It’s a tremendous honor to be included into a Hall of Fame with people like (W.E.) Slew Hester, who helped create the USTA National Tennis Center. It’s a very flattering award and I can tell you how much I appreciate it.”
Chadwick, who is already enshrined in the Belhaven College Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, is just the latest Oxford resident to be placed on the MTA’s honor roll.
Eleanor Shaw was inducted in 1995, while current Lafayette High coach and Oxford Park Commission tennis instructor, Debbie Swindoll, was honored in 2007. Hester, who helped moved the U.S. Open to its current facility in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. in 1978 when he was the president of the USTA, was the first person inducted into the MTA Hall of Fame in 1989.
Friday’s ceremony will be held at the Country Club of Jackson and is the lead event for a weekend of celebrations for the MTA. An awards banquet will be held Saturday to honor several players from the state as well as other individuals and groups that have participated in making tennis even more popular in the state. Oxford High standout Zach Wilder will be presented with the George Wilkinson Award, while the Oxford Community Tennis Association won the Junior Tournament of the Year award.
On recruiting trail
The loss of Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator for the Mississippi State Bulldogs is already being felt on the recruiting trail. Diaz, who helped lift the Bulldogs from a 5-7 team into one that defeated Michigan in the Gator Bowl this past Saturday, left Starkville on Wednesday to become the new DC at Texas. Diaz’s exit led to Philadelphia standout linebacker C.J. Johnson (6-foot-3, 227-pounds, 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash) de-committing from the Bulldogs to re-evaluate where he wants to play college football. Johnson had been committed to MSU since Oct. 8, 2009, so the four-star’s de-commitment is a tremendous blow to the Bulldogs.
Johnson found out Diaz was leaving MSU while he was preparing to play in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He told Rivals.com’s Mike Farrell in a video interview Wednesday that Diaz was recruiting him after former wide receiver coach Mark Hudspeth left to become Louisana-Lafayette’s new head coach. When Diaz decided to leave, Johnson told Farrell that he didn’t feel as comfortable with the Bulldogs and would start to consider playing for Ole Miss and LSU.
Johnson, who made 149 tackles this past season, will visit Oxford on Jan. 21 and LSU the following weekend. Johnson could end up signing with Mississippi State on National Signing Day on Feb. 2, but it’s become obvious that MSU head coach Dan Mullen will have to work to keep Johnson in the fold.
Finding his place
A defensive player that ended up finding his ideal place to play college football a few years ago was former Oxford High standout Dan Hicks at Florida State. After redshirting in 2009, Hicks got his first taste of action this year for the Seminoles, who recently won the Chic-fil-A Bowl over South Carolina. Hicks, who is now weighs 265 pounds, finished the year with 18 tackles, three going for a loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He played in all 13 games and is expected to take on an even larger role thanks to the departure of Markus White, who finished fifth on the team in tackles (64) and second on the team in sacks with eight. (January 6, 2011, Page 6)