Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD – Former Maharishi School tennis coach Lawrence Eyre has been recognized for his contributions to the sport by the United States Tennis Association – Missouri Valley.
In August, the organization announced Eyre would receive the Gold Star Award, making him one of only 100 people to receive such an honor this year. The award is part of the USTA's 100th anniversary and goes to those individuals who have grown the game of tennis in their communities.
The Maharishi School teacher and tennis pro has served the game on a multitude of levels, whether it be through officiating, coaching juniors or college-level players, volunteering at adult tournaments, providing tennis in schools, and even starting the first Community Tennis Association in Fairfield years ago.
'When I think of the saying ‘giving back to tennis,' there's a few individuals that come to my mind very quickly – and Lawrence is one of them,” USTA Iowa Tennis service representative John Terpkosh said in a statement. 'He's a great spirit.”
Eyre led the Maharishi School tennis team to soaring heights during his 25 years at the helm. The highlight of his career was when the boys' team won back-to-back Triple Crowns in 1999 and 2000. A Triple Crown in tennis is when a school wins the singles, doubles and team tournament. The accomplishment landed Eyre in Sports Illustrated the following year.
The Maharishi School Pioneers won a total of 16 titles under Eyre, which included four team championships, seven singles championships and five doubles titles. Maharishi School's first boys' tennis title came in 1991, just four years after the program began.
'It showed that a tiny school can excel at things,” Eyre said. 'We've been able to demonstrate that for many years in tennis.”
When Maharishi School began in tennis program in 1987, it did not have courts of its own, and had to share courts with the public school. In 1990, four indoor courts were added to the Maharishi International University rec center, and then in 2002-2003, another six courts, the Punj Courts, were built across the street.
Eyre said teams didn't want to play Maharishi School at their indoor courts at first because they felt the Pioneers had a home field advantage, so the Maharishi students usually had to play on the road.
Eyre is proud that his team made it to the state tournament final in 11 of his 25 years, almost half the time.
'There is a feeling of community pride within our school, to see kids improve so they can do their part to pass the tradition to somebody else,” Eyre said.
Eyre coached both girls and boys for the first five years, and then his wife, Laurie, took over the girls' team while he coached the boys for another 20 years. Eyre stepped down from his post in 2012, but the training and hard work he instilled in those players paid dividends even in his absence when the boys' team won the Triple Crown for a third time in 2014.
Eyre spent a few years coaching college tennis, first as an assistant at Grinnell College and then as head coach of men's and women's teams at Knox College. After retiring from Knox College in 2017, Eyre couldn't give up the game and found himself where he started, serving the youth of Maharishi School.
Eyre was a decorated tennis player in his own right, excelling in multiple state high school championships in Davenport before joining the Yale men's tennis team. Today, Eyre is back teaching at Maharishi School, where he lectures in American History, American Government and Geography. He leads tennis lessons with youngsters, some as young as kindergarten, after school. He's been in the game long enough that he's now coaching the sons and daughters of his former players.
'My purpose is to give these kids a healthy outlook on a sport with lifelong possibilities,” he said.
According to his calculations, Eyre has taught tennis to 15,000 individuals through his coaching, outreach programs and various tennis camps.
'I'm just really grateful for the friendships and the good health,” Eyre reflected. 'It's been a joy to teach, a joy to coach, and a joy to play. It really is fun.”