OXFORD, Miss. – It’s been a whirlwind year for Ole Miss men’s tennis sophomore Nik Scholtz, and this week he’s experiencing the thrill of a lifetime.
Scholtz, who began the year as the highest ranked SEC player in the nation at No. 5, is in Montreal, Canada, representing his home country, South Africa, in the Davis Cup. The World Group playoff against Canada begins Friday at the Uniprix Stadium in Montreal.
In 2012, Scholtz became the first Rebel in program history to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors. In addition, Scholtz was named ITA Southern Region Rookie of the Year and earned All-America honors while helping lead the Rebels to their 16th NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Scholtz’s accomplishments in 2012 played a huge role in his selection to the team.
“I found out about two weeks before the Olympics ended. I was told not to speak to media or anyone until after the Olympics when they made the official announcement of who was on the team,” Scholtz said.
South Africa and Canada are both vying to earn a spot in the top tier of the Davis Cup. South Africa is bidding for a place in the top tier for the first time since 1998, but they have missed out in the play-offs in each of the last three years.
“Davis Cup is always a 50-50 shot, it’s a dogfight,” said Scholtz on his country’s chances. “The crowd is always more rowdy and conditions are a little different. But I think you always have a chance in Davis Cup.”
Scholtz doesn’t know yet if he’ll actually play this weekend, but nonetheless, he’s excited to be part of this experience.
“Obviously it means a lot to be selected among guys that are playing professional tennis full-time,” Scholtz said. “I can learn a lot from them since I’m kind of a young gun, the new guy.”
“It’s exciting for Nik. I know he hopes to play, but just to be part of the team and to represent your country is very special,” associate head coach Toby Hansson said. “Also, it’s great for Ole Miss to have a player who is representing their country on a big stage. It’s a very big deal.”