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McEnroe Tennis Academy GM Returns to MC to Lead Alma Mater’s Tennis Program

Michael Ward is returning to MC to serve as the next head coach for the men and women's tennis program.
Michael Ward is returning to MC to serve as the next head coach for the men and women's tennis program.

A new chapter began at Mississippi College 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.

“We are grateful for his return back home to Mississippi College as our next head coach, and we are excited about the future of our Mississippi College tennis program moving forward."

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.

SPORTIME is often regarded as the leading commercial tennis company in the country. Forbes Magazine named the John McEnroe Tennis Academy one of the top five tennis academies in the U.S. in 2020.

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 and women’s tennis programs.”

Dr. Jim Turcotte, vice president and executive director of MC’s Alumni Association, is pleased that Ward is returning to his alma mater.

“We are welcoming Michael Ward back to campus enthusiastically and look forward to seeing how his talents impact the lives of MC students,” Turcotte said. “Michael accomplished much as a student at MC, such as serving as the SGA president and receiving the Founder's Award. I was blessed to know both Michael and his wife, Emily, even before they enrolled at MC.

“We are truly blessed to have both of them back here with all their talents. We will all benefit by having Michael at MC and our best days are ahead.”

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.’

“When I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Blake Thompson, I immediately respected him and wanted to join his team and support his vision for Mississippi College."

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.

"Kenny Bizot and Susan Musselwhite are great leaders for MC athletics," Ward said. "(Kenny) has already been outstanding as athletic director, and I am excited to support his vision for the athletic department and for tennis, specifically. (Susan) is a great resource for compliance, and her knowledge about MC is extremely impressive. We are fortunate to have someone so professional and well-versed in compliance and collegiate athletics.

“I am confident in the leadership in the athletic department."

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."