Greatness follows Louis Nash

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Louis Nash doesn’t want your accolades.

But he deserves them.

A humble man who looks for any other explanation for his teams’ successes, Nash built dominant programs at Laurel and St. Joseph’s in Greenville before taking over as the head coach of Oxford tennis in the early 2000s. 

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Despite his proclivity to raise the level of play at every stop along his coaching journey, Nash swears his success is entirely a product of having good players rather than a reflection of his coaching ability. 

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had numerous good tennis players,” Nash says. “I had ’em in Laurel, had ’em in Greenville and I have them here. All three of those tennis communities were thriving at the time I happened to be there.” 

As much as he tries to refuse credit for those successes, the fact that Nash has elevated every program he’s been a part of is undeniable. 

When he took over the job with Oxford tennis the team had a long history of success, but it was often based on the greatness of individual players rather than a consistent foundation of winning. 

That trend quickly changed as Nash set to work building one of the top programs in the state, eventually guiding the team to their first team state title in 2008. 

Ever the deferential coach, Nash is quick to point out that the program did not have the opportunity to win team championships prior to his arrival. 

“You got to remember that there was no state team championship — we played in the Big Eight and there was a Big Eight overall champion but there wasn’t a state team championship,” he said. “It wasn’t until we wrote a rule — well I wrote it and the guy from Corinth signed off on it, we got it passed through the different districts that we wanted to play tennis just like the other team sports.” 

As soon as the new rule went into effect, Nash’s Oxford teams won 10 consecutive team state titles from 2008 to 2017, a dominant run the likes of which are rarely seen in high school sports. 

Nash capitalized on the success by working with Lafayette head coach Debbie Swindoll to bring the state championships to Oxford, bringing in tourism revenue for the city and establishing Oxford as one of the preeminent tennis communities in the state. 

“You’ve got teams coming in and staying in town — I mean you’ve got 600 kids here and their folks come, their friends come, their grandparents come. If you’re from Biloxi or Ocean Springs you’re gonna be here two or three nights, you’re going to eat seven or eight meals so boom — it brings a lot of tourism to Oxford,” Nash said. 

Nash’s never-ending work to grow the sport was finally recognized in January when he was inducted into the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame.

The first high school coach to earn the honor for their coaching record alone, Nash said the recognition was a humbling moment after working so hard for so many years to make an impact on the sport. 

“When you look at the list of who’s in there it’s a rather humbling moment. You’re proud for the tennis communities you’ve been in and the children you’ve worked with… you’re just proud to be validated in some way,” Nash said. “I’ve never minded the work or the time, I have a wife who doesn’t mind the work or the time, I’ve got kids that ended up spending a lot of that work and time with me.” 

That desire to always keep working is exactly what brought him to this point, what helped him oversee 11 team championships and over 60 individual championships and what earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

It’s what makes Louis Nash great.