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Ichabods win first MIAA title since 2012 with undefeated conference season

Washburn women's tennis with the 2019 MIAA trophy

From The Ichabod - Spring 2019

Lance Lysaught wasn’t blowing smoke when he told his players they could cap an amazing MIAA season at their conference finale at Southwest Baptist University. A campus neighbor was, however, blowing smoke their way as he burned leaves in his yard before the April 13 dual.

“It was windy that day, so it was all blowing onto the courts,” senior Alexis Czapinski said. “I have terrible allergies, and everyone was coughing.”

An SBU coach eventually got the neighbor to stop, but it certainly made an impact.

“It was this smoky, hazy atmosphere, and we were trying to win a championship,” Lysaught said.

The Ichabods overcame the inhalants to beat the Bearcats, 4-3, to go undefeated in the MIAA at 9-0 and earn their first conference championship since 2012. Their next step is the NCAA Central Region tournament, which starts May 13.

This was the first conference title for Lysaught, ba ’96, in his fifth season as coach of the Ichabod women and men.

“Going into the season, I knew we had a lot of talent,” he said. “But we were going into the MIAA season with teams in the top 10 and top 20. It’s loaded. You want to win the conference, but you don’t really plan to win the conference.”

A strong lineup from top to bottom helped the Ichabods win several 4-3 and 5-2 duals.

“Usually, those can break either way, and all of those seemed to break our way,” Lysaught said. “I attribute it to our mental toughness and our ability to play well all the way down the lineup. When somebody at the top of the lineup struggles a little bit, somebody at the five or six spot picks them up.”

Czapinski played in the No. 1 doubles position and No. 2 singles position in Washburn’s lineup this year. She ended the regular season ranked second in the nation in singles and first in doubles. She was an All-American doubles player last year, and her doubles partner the last two seasons, junior Logan Morrissey, is a big reason why Czapinski transferred to Washburn from the University of Kansas. A Lawrence native and Free State High School graduate, Czapinski was struggling to earn a spot in the Jayhawk lineup.

Alexis Czapinski“Logan and I knew each other since middle school and trained under the same coach,” she said. “I heard she was coming to Washburn, and once I decided to transfer and I talked with Coach Lysaught, I was sold on Washburn. I saw his vision for the team, but I couldn’t have begun to imagine we would go this far.”

She will graduate this summer with a degree in sports management, and she has a job lined up as an assistant coach at Army West Point.

“She always finds a way to make everybody else better, which in turn, makes her better,” Lysaught said. “I think she’ll be a great Division I coach someday.”

Being a top-ranked player and an All-American with a coaching job after graduation is not what Czapinski expected when she came to Washburn.

“I came here having no clue what I was going to do,” she said. “I started in engineering at KU, and here I am going to be a tennis coach. I started off barely making the lineup at KU to being top 10 in the nation in doubles and singles. I’m proud of what I’ve done individually, but it matters so much more to me what we accomplish as a team.”

Lysaught was named MIAA coach of the year this year. Czapinski was named co-player of the year and first team all-MIAA in singles and doubles. Washburn players earned six all-MIAA awards, and All-America awards will be announced later. Individual success has been a regular occasion for Lysaught’s teams.

“But we couldn’t win a conference championship,” he said. “I hadn’t given up, but I maybe lost sight of it, thinking it’s too difficult against all these top-ranked teams.”

Something was different about this team that won 15 straight duals at one point and was ranked as high as fifth in the nation. The conference title eventually became a realistic goal Lysaught started talking about.

“Then, all the sudden it sneaks up on you and you get one. So, it’s pretty cool.”

Marching band member in uniform on cover of The Ichabod winter 2020

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2019-20 winter edition online and look for it in mailboxes in January.

View past editions


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