2022 Hall of Fame Inductees
2022 MTA Hall of Fame
Nick Barone & Louis Nash
The Tennis Foundation of Mississippi is pleased to announce that Nick Barone of Jackson & Louis Nash of Oxford are the 2022 inductees into the Tennis Foundation of Mississippi Hall of Fame. The inductees into the Tennis Hall of Fame have long been associated with tennis in the state and through their play, support, and generosity have left an unmistakable imprint on Mississippi tennis.
Nick Barone is a native of Chicago and his father introduced him to the game of tennis at the age of three. His dad had high ambitions for his tennis career, putting together a structured training schedule in order to compete at the national level on the junior circuit.
“I grew up as a junior player in the era of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and many other greats. I will never forget watching these guys play in national tournaments when I was around 15 years old and thinking every one of these guys are going to make it on the pro tour. That sound the ball made off their rackets was just different than all their peers. As everyone knows now, they made their mark early in their careers and set a new standard of high velocity tennis. I felt like that was a defining moment where the quality of tennis took a giant leap.”
Nick won the High school State Championship in Illinois and was awarded National High School Tennis All-American in 1987. After a successful junior career, Nick was invited to play tennis for Ole Miss in 1991-92 where he played the #1 singles and doubles position. His senior year, he won the Texas Invitational tournament, earned runner-up honors in the National Clay Court Championships, and represented the Rebels in the NCAA tournament. Nick was ranked as high as #5 in the NCAA rankings during his senior year and finished 11th. He was selected to the All-SEC Team and became the 3rd All- American tennis player in Ole Miss history. Nick was inducted into the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. Post college, he traveled the world competing on the Pro Tour in Satellite tournaments from 1992 1994.
After his stint on the Pro Tour, Nick’s Mississippi ties brough him to Jackson and he has spent his life contributing to the local tennis community. Nick has over 22 years of service at the Country Club of Jackson and currently serves as the Director of Racquet Sports. In 2019, Nick was awarded the Mississippi Tennis Professional of the Year.
Nick is married to Wanda, and they have 2 children, Nicholas & Lee. Nick feels that Mississippi tennis has grown and will continue to grow in the future through the efforts of the MTA and the pros in Mississippi. Nick always credits the Mississippi pros for their dedication to the sport and personal care of their students. Nick believes these same pros, over the years played a significant role in his growth as an instructor and coach. Above all, Nick is grateful for his faith in Jesus and the gift of grace offered through Christ.
“I felt like God gave me talent specifically for tennis. The sport allowed me to identify with something that was going to have long lasting positive impact in my life. Tennis has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world and see places that I would never have gotten to see, as well as meeting all kinds of people and developing friendships that I hold dear to this day.”
When asked about the legacy he wants to leave in the sport, Barone responded, “I don’t want to be remembered for my playing skills or achievements, but for my role in enhancing lives through tennis. There is something special about introducing the sport to someone and getting them to love it. It always puts a smile on my face to see someone today that I can remember giving them their first lesson 20 years ago.”
Louis Nash has been a big name in Mississippi High School Tennis for almost 40 years, and is one of the first inductees into the Hall of Fame from the high school coaching ranks. Nash started his high school tennis coaching career at RH Watkins High School in Laurel from 1982-1984.
“I was the basketball coach at R.H. Watkins High in Laurel and there was an opening for the tennis position that spring. Having played tennis in high school, I jumped right on it and have never regretted that move!”
Nash’s next move was to his hometown of Greenville where he was head coach at Greenville St. Joseph High School from 1986-1993. In his time at Greenville St Joseph, he was part of 5 state championships and was awarded the 1991 MAC (Mississippi Association of Coaches) Coach of the Year. In 2001, Nash was named the Oxford High School tennis head coach and has been there since. He’s led Oxford to 10 State Team Championships and was awarded his second MAC Coach of the Year in 2009.
Over his 32-year coaching career, Nash has a dual match record of 549-60 and has won 15 State Team Championships and 2 overall Big 8 Championships. He’s won 28 region or division titles and coached players to 61 state individual championships. Nash was the National Chairman of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Tennis Committee and USTA Southern High School Tennis Committee Chair from 2016-2018. Louis is married to Rose, who’s a teacher at Oxford High. They have 2 kids, Sarah & Bo, who both played collegiate tennis.
Nash has seen a lot of tennis in his 40 years as a coach, and a lot of positive changes in the game, especially in high school tennis.
“The rules of high school tennis have improved over the years, from allowing more coaching during the year, to adding a doubles court to the format to allow more kids an opportunity to play, to the best players emphasizing the importance of playing on their high school teams."
Nash doesn’t like to talk much about his legacy in the game yet since he’s still got many years of coaching left in him, but he did share some of the reasons why the game has been so rewarding to him.
“Hopefully we’ve impacted a lot of kids to play tennis for years to come, and will eventually fill out the USTA League teams and college club teams of the future. But what I’d most like to be remembered as is a guy that made a difference in a young person’s life, and in a small way led to positive development in coaches, youngsters, and communities that I’ve been involved with.”
Mr. Barone and Mr. Nash will be inducted into the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame at a banquet to be held in their honor at the River Hills Club in Jackson on Saturday, January 7, 2023, starting at 6:30. If you would like to attend the banquet in support of the inductees, click the link below to register: