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California Dreamin': Per Nilsson Leaves MSU to Return to Pepperdine

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After leading the Mississippi State men's program to four-consecutive NCAA tournament births, Per Nilsson has decided to leave Starkville to return to Malibu. He will serve as the head coach of the Pepperdine women's tennis team.

Mississippi State University | John R. Cade

The man who led the Mississippi State Bulldogs to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and served as an assistant on the 2006 National Championship Pepperdine squad has decide to return to Malibu, California, to serve as the head coach of the the Pepperdine women's tennis program.

Nilsson, who picked up 2011 SEC Coach of the Year honors, led Mississippi State to the Round of 16 in the 2013, and his squad hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament in 2012 and 2013, a first for the program.

Nilsson leaves Starkville with 95 wins, which is good for third all-time at the school.

Nilsson's accomplishments with the Maroon and White go back to his playing days.  Nilsson, who ranks sixth all time on the victory lists for both singles and doubles, played on Mississippi State teams that reached the Round of 16 in 1992 and 1993.  During his senior season in 1994, Nilsson served as captain, and the Bulldogs reached the national semifinals, finishing in the top-ten for a third straight season.

Nilsson began his coaching career the following year as an assistant coach at Mississippi State, a position he held until moving into working at tennis facilities in 1995.

In Malibu, Nilsson will inherit a program that has made 27 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and has captured 24 West Coast Conference championships under Gualberto Escudero, who announced at the end of the season that he would step down from the head coaching position but remain as an associate coach.

According to a release from Mississippi State, the timing was right for Nilsson to return to Pepperdine.

"This was a tough decision," Nilsson said. "Mississippi State has obviously been a big part of my life as both a player and coach, and I will always be a Bulldog deep down. But I feel returning to Pepperdine is the right move at this time in my life and career. I wish everyone at MSU who has helped me over the years nothing but the best in the future, and thank Scott Stricklin and John Cade in particular for their leadership and support."