Coach Profile of the Week: Lance Lysaught

The men’s and women’s tennis teams are the last to get their seasons underway, hosting the Cowley County Tigers Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the Washburn Tennis Complex.

In his fifth year as the head coach for the tennis teams, Lance Lysaught looks to make this the best season in Washburn history for the Ichabods. 

Lysaught was born in Durant, Oklahoma, and about five years later his family moved north to Topeka. He went to college here at Washburn and played for the tennis team. Lysaught was an NAIA national qualifier in singles and doubles competition. He graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in English. He then went to Bethel Baptist Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, to pursue a Master of Divinity degree. He graduated in 2003 at the top of his class before leaving to do mission work in Australia. 

Lysaught has six children with his wife, Alisa. His eldest daughter, Madison, is currently one of the players on the Washburn women’s tennis team. His second eldest, Mallory, is a student here at Washburn as well. The rest are Madeline, Miriam, John and Melanie. The children were home-schooled before attending Shawnee Heights. 

Before his college coaching career began, Lysaught worked at the Topeka Country Club as the head tennis professional. His main duties were to schedule practices and mentor assistant tennis professionals. 

He began his collegiate coaching career at Ottawa University where he helped start their tennis programs. He coached multiple players that earned KCAC honors while working with the Braves. The major awards earned were KCAC Newcomer of the Year and KCAC Freshman of the Year. In his two years there, the women went 11-17, while the men went 9-21. 

“I got to start the Ottawa program from scratch… The Washburn job came open, which I kind of had my eyes on, so I applied for it, and things have worked out well,” Lysaught said. 

Now, Lysaught is in his fifth year as the tennis coach for the teams. Over the last four years, the women have gone 25-36, and the men have a record of 34-22. He coached the first ever women’s NCAA Division II National Champion from Washburn. On the men’s side, he has coached several players that have been ranked nationally. Lysaught has had 13 players named to the All-MIAA Academic Honor Roll as well as nine players earning All-MIAA honors. Last year, he was the MIAA Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year.  

Lysaught usually likes to water ski and continue to improve his tennis game, but after six knee surgeries he has had to dial it back a bit. Today he tries to work out in the yard, building walls and doing landscaping. His main focus in landscaping is planting trees and putting out bird feeders. He also keeps up with professional and college tennis along with all of the other major sports.

A big part of Lysaught’s job involves recruiting new players. As a tennis coach, he looks for certain qualities in his athletes and is often recruiting them from other nations.

One of his biggest qualities when looking for new players is passion in athletes as well as coachability and team players.

“Sometimes I am doing internationals, which includes doing it all over the phone or on Skype, so it’s a little bit of a different world, but at the end of the day I go with my heart,” Lysaught said.  

Every coach has a reason why they pursued their coaching career. For Lysaught, it’s because being around students reminds him of his own experience playing tennis in college.

“I enjoy being around young athletes, being around people that are excited to learn, people that are growing not only on the court, but watching them turn into adults,” Lysaught said.

Lysaught is very thankful for the facilities that Washburn has to offer. He is, likewise, thankful for having the alumni and the donors that have given the program great support while he has been here. He believes that both the men’s and women’s teams will have a great season this year. The men will be trying to one-up their Elite Eight finish in last year’s national tournament. 

Both the men’s and the women’s teams will play the Midwestern State Invitational Friday, Sept. 14 in Wichita Falls, Texas. Their next home match will be on Friday, Oct. 12 against the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes.