Auburn Chooses KU Assistant Lilley to lead its women’s tennis program
LAWRENCE, Kan. – University of Kansas Assistant Head Tennis Coach Caroline Lilley has been named the new head coach of the Auburn University women’s program. Lilley spent the past four seasons helping lead KU’s tennis program back to prominence, not only in the Big 12 Conference but nationally as well.
“I couldn’t be happier for Caroline,” Kansas head coach Todd Chapman said. “There is no one more deserving of this opportunity than her. Auburn hit a home run with this hire. I can’t thank Caroline enough for her dedication and work she has done in our program the last four years. We will definitely miss her, but we couldn’t be more excited for her.”
In her four years at Kansas, Lilley was instrumental in the Jayhawks’ program turnaround. KU went from last place to first place in the Big 12 Conference during that time and this spring captured the team’s first-ever Big 12 championship. She helped lead KU to four-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, something the Jayhawks hadn’t done since 1996-99.
The spring of 2019 was a highly successful one for Kansas. The Jayhawks compiled an overall record of 21-5 and went 7-2 in conference action to finish third in the league race. Hosting the Big 12 Championship at the Jayhawk Tennis Center, Kansas rattled off three-straight victories to claim the Big 12 title, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. For their success in conference play, six Jayhawks earned All-Big 12 honors.
Chosen to host the First and Second Rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at the Jayhawk Tennis Center at Rock Chalk Park, KU defeated nationally ranked teams Denver and Florida, respectively, to advance to the Sweet 16 at Stanford. The Jayhawks were narrowly defeated, 4-3, by the eventual National Champion Cardinal.
Kansas was ranked for 16-consecutive weeks in the top-25 of the ITA poll; its highest ranking was No. 7 on Feb. 26. The Jayhawks concluded the season at No. 13.
The three 2019 seniors were each named First-Team All-Americans after being seeded in the NCAA Individual Championships, where they advanced to the Rounds of 16 – Anastasia Rychagova in singles, and Nina Khmelnitckaia and Janet Koch in doubles.
The Jayhawks finished second in the Big 12 Conference in the spring of 2018, KU’s highest finish in 18 years, with a 7-2 dual match record. As a result of KU’s success, Lilley was voted ITA Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Prior to her time at Kansas, Lilley made stops at Purdue and Gonzaga as she worked her way up the women’s collegiate tennis coaching ranks.
Not only has Lilley been successful coaching tennis, she was also an outstanding collegiate player herself. She left her mark on the Georgia Tech tennis program, as she was ranked with five different doubles partners throughout her college career, with a high of No. 6. She was nationally ranked in singles as well, with a high of No. 67.
As a junior she posted a personal-best 26-12 singles record, contributing to Georgia Tech’s consistent presence as a top-15 program in the country.
Graduating with a business administration degree with a concentration in finance, Lilley left Georgia Tech with the second-best doubles winning percentage in Tech’s history – 69 percent (38-17, including 20-7 in dual match play).
Lilley earned her MBA, with a concentration in finance, from Kansas in 2018.