Special to The Clinton Courier
A new chapter began at Mississippi College (MC) on Wednesday, May 4, as former Choctaw tennis student-athlete Michael Ward was announced as the next head coach for the MC men and women’s tennis program.
Ward steps in to replace longtime former Choctaw Head Coach David Boteler, who retired at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
“I am pleased to announce that Michael Ward will become the next head coach of our Mississippi College men and women’s tennis programs,” said Kenny Bizot, MC athletic director. “Not only does he bring tremendous knowledge of the game, but he is a man of great character, faith, integrity, and someone that will relate to our student-athletes, coaching them to become great individuals on and off the court.”
As general manager of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy and SPORTIME in New York City, Ward managed the day-to-day operations of tennis and athletic development, budgeting, sales and billing, maintenance, busing and transportation, and coaching and performance of many of the country’s best junior tennis players.
Ward has coached players ranked number one nationally and has worked closely with John and Patrick McEnroe and world-class directors and coaches like Lawrence Kleger and Richard Mensing, Jr.
Having a coach with those credentials return to his alma mater to lead the Choctaw tennis program is a blessing to the university, according to Dr. Blake Thompson, MC president.
“Michael Ward was an outstanding student-athlete at MC who began his coaching career here,” Thompson said. “His experience leading a nationally-renowned developmental tennis program, his engaging personality, and his strong commitment to MC will attract many top-flight student-athletes to our men’s and women’s tennis programs.”
Raised in Jackson, Ward graduated from MC in 2007. As a member of the tennis team, he received the Conference Sportsmanship Award, was named a National ITA Scholar Athlete, and was an All-American Southwest Conference First Team selection. After receiving his B.S. in business administration, Ward remained at MC to serve as the assistant coach of the men’s tennis team while earning his M.B.A.
“I am excited to be back in my hometown working with a university that I believe in and love,” Ward said. “When I graduated from Mississippi College, and because I loved the family environment, I thought about staying and starting my career here. I remember discussing that with Dr. Lee Royce, the president at the time, and he told me, ‘you can always come back.’”
Ward spent five years in financial services and banking before returning to tennis in 2014 as tennis director of the Anguilla Tennis Academy, a non-profit tennis initiative in the British West Indies. He has extensive experience as a coach and in tennis management in a wide variety of settings, from academies to five-star resorts. He joined SPORTIME and JMTA in 2016.
Ward is married to the former Emily Newman. The couple have a son, Cruz.
“I will give my absolute best to each student-athlete, and my goal is to help them maximize their college experience and enjoy and learn from it,” Ward said. “I want us to win, but I believe results follow hard work in a positive learning environment, and I will do my best to create that atmosphere and build confidence.”