Per Nilsson
Per  Nilsson

Head Coach

Alma Mater:
Mississippi State '08



Nilsson, Sherif Garner ITA Southwest Regional Acclaim

It is Nilsson's fourth ITA regional coaching honor and Sherif's first and second regional honors.


Women's Tennis to Host NCAA First and Second Rounds

This is the third-straight season the Waves have hosted the first and second rounds at Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center.


Women's Tennis Reaps West Coast Conference Top Honors

This is the fourth-consecutive season the Waves have earned all three top-honors.


Nilsson Adds Levashova to Spring Roster

Levashova has marked a career-high ITF juniors ranking of #12 after posting a 78-35 singles junior record.


Pepperdine Prepares for Oracle/ITA Masters

Three Waves will compete in one of the most prestigious tournaments of the season.


Riviera/ITA All-American Championships - Prequalifying Day 1

Riviera/ITA All-American Championships - Prequalifying Day 1


Oracle/ITA Masters - Day Two (9/22/17)

Oracle/ITA Masters - Day Two (9/22/17)


Oracle/ITA Masters - Day One

Oracle/ITA Masters - Day One


NCAA Championships Elite 8: Pepperdine vs. Vanderbilt

NCAA Championships Elite 8: Pepperdine vs. Vanderbilt


Women's Tennis: NCAA Round Two vs. UCLA

Women's Tennis: NCAA Round Two vs. UCLA

Proven winner and championship-caliber coach Per Nilsson was chosen to lead the Pepperdine women’s tennis team into a new era in the summer of 2014, succeeding 37-year head coach Gualberto Escudero. He enters his fifth season at the helm in 2018-19.

Nilsson has already led the Pepperdine women’s tennis program to record-setting feats in his first four seasons.  Since taking over in 2015, Nilsson has amassed a 90-18 overall record at Pepperdine for a sterling .833 winning percentage.  In his four seasons, the Waves have won four-straight West Coast Conference titles and entered the NCAA Championships, reaching the NCAA Round of 16 or better in all four seasons.  He brought the team to back-to-back NCAA quarterfinal appearances in 2016 and 2017, only the 5th and 6th times in program history the Waves have accomplished the feat. 

Nilsson has earned ITA Southern Regional Coach of the Year honors in the last two seasons, while also earned four-straight West Coast Conference Coach of the Year nods.  During his time with the Waves, Nilsson has coached 20 All-WCC selections, including 12 first team, four second team and four honorable mention.  He has also produced 11 All-WCC doubles selections including seven first team doubles partnerships, three second team pairs and one honorable mention nod.  He has led the Waves to four-straight West Coast Conference Players of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors as well as ITA Regional and All-American acclaim. 

In 2018, the Waves earned the programs 35th berth into the NCAA Championships, finishing in the round of 16, and he led the team to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship match for the first time in program history.  Throughout the 2018 campaign, the Waves posted a 24-3 overall record and finished the season ranked 13th nationally.  During the season, the team ranked as high as No. 2 in the Oracle/ITA rankings, while the team also ranked atop the USTA National Rankings for the first time in program history.

His recruiting efforts yielded many standout players including Ashley Lahey, Luisa Stefani and Mayar Sherif among many others.  In 2018, he coached sophomore Ashley Lahey to the NCAA Singles Championship final match, helping her finish as runner-up in the first time in Pepperdine women’s tennis history that a player has reached the match.  He coached Lahey, Sherif, Stefani and Evgeniya Levashova into the NCAA Singles Championship and Lahey, Sherif and Stefani all reached the quarterfinals.  It was the first season since 2011 that any team had sent three competitors into the quarterfinal.  Lahey and Sherif eventually reached the semifinals, becoming the 3rd and 4th Pepperdine women’s tennis players ever to do so, and first team in the nation to have two players in the round since the 2012 season. 

After the year completed, Stefani earned her third-straight ITA All-American singles honor, while Sherif and Lahey earned their second-consecutive nod.  Sherif also picked up an ITA All-American doubles honor in 2017.  In 2016, Stefani earned ITA National Rookie of the Year acclaim as well as ITA Southwest Region Rookie of the Year and Player to Watch, WCC Freshman and Player of the Year and first team singles and doubles honors in her freshman campaign.  She also reached the NCAA Singles Championships semifinals in 2016 and was the first Wave to do so since the 1989 season.  In 2017, Stefani once again earned WCC Player of the Year honors while Lahey garnered ITA Southwest Region Player to Watch honors.  In 2018 Sherif earned the honors along with ITA Southwest Region Senior Player of the Year and Most Improved Senior honors. 

In 2017, Nilsson coached the Waves to the NCAA Championships quarterfinal round for the second year in a row.  The Waves finished #9 in the final Oracle/ITA rankings and went 24-5 overall with West Coast Conference Championship and regular-season crowns.  During that year, five Waves earned ITA All-American honors with three singles nods and one doubles partnership nod.  Along with their All-American nod, Mayar Sherif and Christine Maddox finished the season as the No. 1 ranked pair on the ITA doubles rankings.

In 2015, he recruited Laura Gulbe, who went on to earn West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year status. With a roster comprised of just seven student-athletes, the Waves won both the conference’s regular-season and tournament championships, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Pepperdine conclude the season with an 18-7 record and a final ranking of #22.

Prior to 2014, Nilsson spent seven seasons as the head men’s coach at Mississippi State after a five-year stint as an assistant coach with the Waves’ men’s squad. During his first stop in Malibu, Nilsson helped lead the Pepperdine men to the 2006 NCAA championship.

Nilsson took over for Escudero, who had been at the helm for 37 seasons beginning in 1977-78.  When Nilsson took over, he inherited a team that had made 27 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and captured the West Coast Conference championship for the 24th time in 2014 while earning a final national ITA ranking of #24.

After leaving Pepperdine in 2007, Nilsson spent seven seasons coaching the men’s squad at his alma mater, Mississippi State. There he compiled a record of 95-76 while going 36-42 in the tough Southeastern Conference. He led the Bulldogs to back-to-back SEC West titles in 2011 and 2012 and brought MSU to four-straight NCAA Tournaments from 2011-14.

In his six seasons in Starkville, Miss., Nilsson’s squads produced four ITA All-Americans and 17 All-SEC selections.

His eye for recruiting and developing young talent was evident as a Mississippi State player garnered SEC Freshman of the Year honors in three-of-four seasons. In 2013, Romain Bogaerts not only took the conference’s top rookie award, he was also honored as the ITA National Freshman of the Year.

Nilsson first took the Bulldogs to the NCAA Championship in 2011, their first appearance since 2005, and MSU advanced to the second round. After reaching the second round again in 2012, Nilsson’s young 2013 team eclipsed expectations and advanced to the NCAA Championship round of 16 for the first time since 2001. Mississippi State made their fourth-consecutive appearance at the tournament in 2014 and reached the second round.

Nilsson had racked up the honors for himself as well throughout his time at MSU, including an SEC Coach of the Year honor in 2011 and two ITA Southern Region Coach of the Year honors in 2011 and 2013.

In the classroom, Nilsson’s teams were just as dominant. MSU has been named an ITA All-Academic team for five consecutive seasons, producing 40 Academic All-SEC selections and 29 ITA Scholar-Athlete selections. Nilsson also had two players named Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.

Nilsson was an assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s tennis team from 2003-07 under head coach Adam Steinberg, where the Waves went 119-38 in those five seasons.

Easily highlighting his resume while in Malibu was the 2006 campaign when Pepperdine claimed its first-ever national championship. Nilsson was very involved in Pepperdine's recruiting efforts leading up to that season, which saw the Waves post a 36-2 record and hand Georgia its only loss of the season in the NCAA title match at Palo Alto, Calif. 

Leading up to that crowning season, Pepperdine had improved from #27 in the country in 2004 to #8 nationally in 2005, a year in which Nilsson was named the ITA’s West Region Assistant Coach of the Year. The Waves advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals in that campaign, ending at 24-3.

Nilsson played collegiately at Mississippi State from 1992-94 and helped the Bulldogs earn three consecutive top-10 finishes in the rankings. MSU reached the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship in 1992 and 1993 before reaching the semifinals in 1994.

Serving as team captain during his senior year, Nilsson is ranked #6 on the Bulldogs' all-time career victory list in both singles and doubles.

Nilsson was a student assistant coach at Mississippi State during the 1994-95 season before working as a tennis professional at the Capital City Country Club and St. Marlo Country Club. From 1998-2000, he was the Director of Tennis at Appalachee Farms.

A native of Lund, Sweden, Nilsson was a high school exchange student at Jackson (Miss.) Academy and was the 1990 Mississippi Academy singles champion.  He earned a degree in Business and Sports Administration from Mississippi State in 2008.  He is married to the former Beth Vennerstrom and the two reside in Malibu.

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