The Times West Virginian

Sports

August 21, 2013

WVU’s new tennis coach has plans to boost the sport

MORGANTOWN — With extensive experience in the tennis arena as a player and coach at the collegiate level, Miha Lisac has been named West Virginia University’s sixth women’s tennis head coach, as announced Tuesday by director of athletics Oliver Luck.

“I have to thank Oliver Luck, Keli Cunningham, who was in charge of the search committee, Mary Ellen Jones, Terri Howes, Matt Borman and everybody I had a chance to meet, for believing in me, giving me this opportunity and putting faith in myself and in the vision that I presented for the women’s tennis program,” Lisac says. “I feel very fortunate to be in this position and to be a part of such an institution. It is an outstanding opportunity.”

Lisac is a former student-athlete and men’s assistant coach at Georgia State, who finished his sixth season as head coach of the women’s tennis program at his alma mater following the 2012-13 season.

The 2009 CAA Coach of the Year, Lisac took over the head coaching position in the summer of 2007 after serving as the men’s assistant coach from 2005-07. In six seasons at the helm, Lisac led the women’s tennis program to one conference title, a berth in the Sun Belt Conference championship finals, back-to-back CAA championship finals appearances and two other berths in the CAA championship semifinals.

His overall record is 55-38 as a head coach, with the highlight of his tenure in 2009 when he guided Georgia State to its first NCAA appearance in program history and was named the CAA Coach of the Year. It was only his second season at the helm.

“It is clear that Miha has experienced much success both as a player, and, most recently, as a coach,” Luck said. “He is the type of person that takes pride in doing things the right way and knows what it takes to win. We are eager for him to come in and continue to grow the Mountaineer women’s tennis program to a championship-caliber program.

“I have formed a vision for what I see a top program, in a top conference or in the nation, to look like. Obviously, West Virginia playing in the Big 12, which on the women’s side is extremely strong — it is one of the top conferences around, and having the potential to also compete for some of the top spots in the nation, I’ve really kind of ironed out a plan as to what the program will look like,” Lisac explained.

“The vision that I put together is a long-term vision and we will have to take a step-by-step approach to getting to that point, but it is very important to me that we take the right steps and start building the team from the inside out. There are a lot of steps we will be taking from here on, and we will be setting the bar at the highest standard.

“The vision I have for building a top program is not just related to the team, recruiting, what we do on the court and academically, but also the way we build a tennis community in Morgantown.”

Lisac’s final season with Georgia State was a benchmark year for the program as Abigail Tere-Apisah became the school’s first-ever tennis All-American after advancing to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Singles Championship. Tere-Apisah also took home CAA Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Performer honors.

Whitney Byrd and Maryna Kozachenko became just the second pair in Lisac’s tenure to earn All-CAA first-team doubles honors. The team advanced to its second-straight CAA finals and earned its highest ITA ranking in school history (No. 38 on Feb. 25, 2012). The team finished the season ranked in the ITA national team rankings for a third consecutive year after defeating three nationally ranked opponents.

By finishing in the Top 75, GSU earned a bid to the ITA Kick-Off Weekend National Indoor Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Panthers earned a victory over their highest ranked opponent in school history with a 4-3 upset at No. 37-ranked USF during the 2012 season.

Lisac was born and raised in Velenje in the European nation of Slovenia, where he was ranked among the country’s top 10 juniors.

A 2005 graduate of Georgia State, Lisac lettered four years for the Panthers and was a two-time All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection and a four-time recipient of conference academic honors.

Lisac’s official start date at WVU is Aug. 27.

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