Quad-Cities Online: Dispatch•Argus

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Posted Online: Oct 01, 2009 09:56PM

Moline grad nabs National High School Coach of the Year

By Ryan Sergeant, rsergeant@qconline.com

Coach_EyrePrestigious awards have been stacking up on Lawrence Eyre’s trophy case since he began playing the game of tennis back in the 1960s.

Now comes a big one — the 1966 Moline High School graduate has been named 2009’s National High School Coach of the Year at the World Conference of the United States Professional Tennis Association, the world’s largest association of tennis-teaching professionals.

Eyre now is coaching at Maharishi School in Fairfield, Iowa, which he has been doing since 1988 when he started the tennis program. However, playing and coaching all began for Eyre in Moline over 40 years ago.

He even joked about how long ago it has been since he walked the halls of Moline High School, noting that it was even before legendary Moline coach Tom Derouin took over the helm at MHS in 1968.

“So, it was really definite ancient history,” Eyre joked, also noting that he and Derouin are friends and work together as umpires in various Big Ten tennis events.

He can remember his first influence in the game of tennis being his high school coach, Joe Ruberg, who recently just passed away. Ruberg was the swimming coach at MHS and even though he didn’t teach the technical side of tennis, he kept the boys fit.

“He was the first one to admit that tennis was not his primary sport, but he got us fit,” he said. “He told me he wanted me to watch (pro) Rod Laver and I did every chance I had. (Ruberg) gave me tennis magazines; he was as encouraging as could be.

“It broke my heart I could not thank him,” Eyre said of his coach, learning of his passing after he received the honor. “I wanted to pay tribute to him; I thank him very much for all of his encouragement.”

Shortly after graduation from Moline High, mothers of younger tennis players came to Eyre and some of his high school teammates and asked if he was interested in teaching tennis lessons. At the time, there were no outlets in the Quad-Cities for tennis lessons and Eyre was thrilled to jump at the opportunity.

But what he didn’t know is what it would turn out to be today. That represented the start of the Moline Park Board program, which has advanced past just tennis, with football and basketball opportunities for young kids.

“Ten teachers went to all these different parks and taught over 500 kids for an eight-week summer session,” he said. “A whole pile of those kids went on to play college tennis or teaching professionals. It’s real gratifying, and it really was a lot of fun.”

Eyre was just a normal kid growing up, enjoying all different kinds of sports like all of his peers. Tennis was not one of them, and it wasn’t until 1961 when the influence of his grandmother really turned him on to the sport.

“She gave me a picture of the king of England playing tennis,” he said. “You see, my dad was an all-state football player at Moline, but he had become disabled after his time in the Marines because of a football injury. My grandma took it upon herself; she was lobbying to get me to play a sport where I was less likely to get injured.”

It was a decision that he still thanks his grandmother to this day. And it’s one that now has national award implications.

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One Response to “Quad-Cities Online: Dispatch•Argus”

  1. Lessons For The Young Tennis Enthusiast | The old good tennis Says:

    […] Quad-Cities Online: Dispatch•Argus […]

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