Hard work and determination are important ideals to possess in order to build a top-notch tennis program. Those traits also help one to become the youngest head coach in the country. Lauren Meisner is no stranger to those concepts and has showcased them since she joined the SMU family in the fall of 2003 as an assistant coach and later took over as the 12th head coach in the program's history in 2006. In Meisner's first four seasons, the Mustangs are 82-23. The .781 winning percentage is the best in school history.
Meisner's tenure has shown consistency and improvement both on and off the court since she arrived on the Hilltop. In 2009, the Mustangs went 28-3 and won the Conference USA Championship, which was the first league tournament title in school history. The team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship and finished with the No. 23 national ranking, the highest since 1989. Freshman Marta Lesniak was named ITA Southwest Region Rookie of the Year. The 2010 season marked a second straight year in the NCAA Championship, advancing to the second round and finished with a 24-5 record and No. 29 ranking.
In 2005-06, Meisner helped guide the Mustangs to the C-USA Championship finals and a Top 40 ranking. In her inaugural season as head coach the following season, she helped guide the Mustangs to a 19-5 record and another Top 40 national ranking. She led two players to national rankings in both singles and doubles as first-year head coach, while four players were named All-Conference USA.
In 2007-08 she had arguably her finest as a head coach. She led a club riddled with injuries through that adversity, to an impressive 11-10 record, including four wins over nationally-ranked opponents, while playing a schedule that featured 13 teams carrying a national ranking.
Meisner's 2007-08 squad featured two nationally-ranked singles players and a school-record three nationally-ranked doubles pairs. The team advanced to the C-USA semifinals and was awarded with three All-Conference USA selections and the league's Newcomer of the Year. In addition, two singles players finished ranked in the Top 30 in the Southwest Region, while the team finished with a 3.4 cumulative GPA, the highest GPA among all SMU athletic teams.
In her first season with the Mustangs as an assistant coach, Meisner helped lead the team to its best overall season since 1988. The team earned its first NCAA Championship bid since 1996 and advanced to the round of 32 for the first time since 1988. Under her guidance in 2003-04, the Mustangs achieved their highest ranking since 1989 and the team played in the championship finals of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships. That team concluded the season with an 18-11 record.
The 2004-05 Mustangs finished with a mark of 16-10 and reached the semifinals of the WAC Championships, falling to three-time defending champion Fresno State. In 2006, Meisner helped the team to a 12-match win streak at the end of the season, the longest since the 2000-01 season.
Overall, student-athletes she has coached have earned 32 all-conference honorees and 18 individual or doubles tandems have been nationally-ranked. They have also garnered 37 conference academic honors.
Along with her duties at SMU, Meisner serves as the C-USA Women's Tennis coaches' chairperson, a two-year position she was voted into by her fellow C-USA coaching peers. In 2008, she was selected by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to serve a three-year term on the Southwest Regional Committee. This prestigious honor is bestowed upon coaches who will help in the decision process for rankings of individual regional singles and doubles, as well as aid in the selection of postseason All-Americans and decide which athletes from the Southwest Region get to travel to the NCAA tournament.
During her time as an assistant, Meisner was responsible for organizing team practices, player development, scheduling, recruiting and team building, all areas that she still has an integral part in. She also served as a USPTA certified teaching professional at Brookhaven Tennis Academy in Dallas, where she worked with nationally-ranked junior players and junior traveling teams during the summer.
Before arriving to Dallas and SMU, Meisner spent a semester as a volunteer assistant coach for her alma mater, Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. As a standout student-athlete, she lettered four years as a member of the Lady Techster tennis team from 1999-2003. Serving as team captain for two years, Meisner was a mainstay in the La. Tech lineup both in singles and doubles play. She was named the team's Singles Player of the Year in 2000, recording the best singles record on the team that season.
A Dean's List member at Louisiana Tech, Meisner was named to the conference All-Academic team each of her four years in Ruston. She served as secretary of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board and was a student representative on the President's Advancement Team from 2000-03, hosting social events for the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association. Additionally, she was a member of the academic honor society Gamma Beta Phi. During her summers, she returned to Central Texas and served as the head women's counselor at the Texas A&M summer tennis camps in College Station, Texas.
A native of Groesbeck, Texas, Meisner fell in love with the game at a very young age as she literally grew up on the court. Her father Jim has been the coach of the Groesbeck High School tennis team since 1975 and she learned the finer points of the game and the core values she holds today under his tutelage. During her high school career, Meisner was a three-time state doubles champion from 1997-99 and was named the Groesbeck High School Female Athlete of the Year in 1999.
Meisner earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education from Louisiana Tech in 2003 after majoring in secondary education and minoring in history and fitness and wellness. She is currently working on her Masters of Education at SMU.
She and her husband Tod were married in 2007 and currently reside in Dallas.
Meisner Coaching Files:
Coaching Record: 82-23 as Head Coach, 135-50 overall at SMU Coaching Honors: CUSA Women's Tennis Representative, ITA Southwest Regional Representative