MERIDIAN, Miss. -- Simon Bardell isn’t a new face on Meridian Community College’s campus or court. After all, Bardell was a tennis player and assistant coach.
This week he’s started in his new position – tennis coach to the MCC Eagles. “I do have a bit of a legacy,” he noted as he is picking up the racket from his predecessor Wanda McPhail who retired this summer.
“My goal is to maintain and build on what she created,” Bardell said.
A native of Beulah Victoria, Australia, where his family has a 3,000-acre farm that produces wheat, barley and sheep, Bardell came to MCC as a student after being recruited by McPhail in the fall 2010.
“We don’t have university sports as the same in the States,” Bardell explained, telling how a connection with a tennis coach led Bardell to Florida to train. “From him, I found out about college tennis and that’s when it kicked in as a possibility,” he said. And it was from there he met McPhail.
As an Eagle, Bardell netted many accomplishments: He was 29-13 in doubles and 28-11 in singles at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. During his freshman year, Bardell and partner Matic Leskovar were ranked No. 11 in doubles at the end of the season and Bardell was ranked No. 32 in singles by the International Tennis Association. His sophomore season, Bardell and partner Trey Webb finished the season ranked No. 32 in doubles by the ITA; Bardell was ranked No. 12 in singles. In 2011, Bardell made All Region XXIII/MACJC State.
But that’s not all. As a sophomore, Bardell received the Arthur Ashe Award, which recognized outstanding individuals at the regional and national levels.
After leaving MCC, he continued his education and tennis at the University of West Alabama, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education. In his junior year Bardell was undefeated singles in conference and he finished ninth in the nation for a Division II school.
Bardell didn’t leave his MCC alma mater for long; he volunteered working with the Eagles assisting McPhail and in February 2017 became assistant coach learning from his former coach how to instill in the student athletes the values of a good work ethic, conditioning and the importance of academics. Earlier this spring semester, he was recognized as a TASC ITA Assistant Coach of the Year.
As the coach of the Eagles, Bardell is preparing for the upcoming academic term and recruiting for future players.
His ties to MCC are also personal. When he was a student, Bardell met his future wife, Katy Adams, a native of Texas who was also recruited by McPhail to play tennis for the Lady Eagles. “We went to UWA together, too,” Bardell noted.