Former tennis amateur-pro coaches in hometown

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Photo Courtesy of Franklin County Community Tennis Association

Mark Lohan, second from left, poses with a trophy in a City of Washington tennis tournament. “The only time I ever won money off a tournament was a [Pro-Amateur] tournament that I played in Mississippi,” Lohan said. “I was paired with an amateur, and we ended up taking first place, and won about $500.” Lohan once ranked #2 in Mississippi in open doubles tennis.

As spring break draws to a close, many students are looking for ways to hold onto their first taste of summer by getting outside. A great activity to try might be tennis lessons, taught by tennis coach Mark Lohan. Lohan has traveled to several states playing tennis, but he first discovered his love of the game in Washington.

“My father, he always loved the game, and he got me introduced,” Lohan said. “I had two other friends who liked the game, so those were the three that I played [with] all the time.”

During his teen years, Lohan learned from St. Louis Tennis Hall of Fame coach Craig Sandvig. Lohan’s coaching style is inspired by his own experiences with Sandvig.

“[I take after] his personality,” Lohan said. “He’s a little on the sarcastic side. He likes giving trouble…I like giving trouble.”

Beside his coach, Lohan became more and more successful and earned a spot on the Lindenwood University tennis team. 

“When I turned about [my] early 20s, I became probably the best player in the county,” Lohan said. 

Lohan’s career continued improving, and more opportunities for higher-level play opened up for him.

“There was this one year where between my matches and tournaments in St. Louis and here [in Washington], I think I lost four matches in the whole year,” Lohan said. “I started thinking that I was a very good player. Then I moved to Florida and realized that I was not a very good player. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to a very small fish in a big pond.”

While playing in Florida, Lohan decided to pursue a higher education in tennis, specifically coaching.

“I went to a school called Bollettieri Tennis Academy,” Lohan said. “It was a six-month course on learning how to teach tennis. Some of the people who were students at the time were Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles…They were all there in the time before they became big. They were in the playing [course], I was in the teaching part.”

The school, now known as IMG Academy, provides training for youths who want to enter the professional tour, or be recruited to a Division I college tennis team.

“We were the very first of its kind, a class where they taught us how to teach [tennis],” Lohan said. “They taught us how to feed balls [and] how to string rackets. They taught us every aspect of the mental game, nutrition…If it had anything to do with tennis, they worked with us on that during those six months.”

During the course, Lohan studied alongside players who would become household names among tennis fans.

“My room shared a wall with Jim Courier, who became the number one player in the world several years later,” Lohan said. “What’s crazy was when we had to study for our [United States Professional Tennis Association] test, he’s in the next room playing drums. That was crazy.”

After finishing his course at IMG Academy, Lohan returned to Washington to introduce the sport to others in the community.

“I love the game of tennis, and [coaching] was the way that I could stay in the game and make a living off of it,” Lohan said.

Lohan also coaches several students at WHS, encouraging the growth of tennis to students looking for a sport outside of school athletics. 

“One thing that means a lot to me is that he isn’t just doing his best to teach you tennis, but he goes out of his way during lessons to talk about life, tell stories and just to be personal with you,” sophomore Cecilia Tornetto said. “I went into this sport knowing absolutely nothing about tennis…I know that our high school has considered adding a girls tennis team [and] I’m really hoping that it follows through.”

Photo Courtesy of Franklin County Community Tennis Association
Tennis coach Mark Lohan poses for a photo in Phoenix Park during a tennis tournament. “[One of my students], he’s 11, and right now he’s playing in tournaments in St. Louis…he’s ranked #3 right now,” Lohan said. Lohan can be contacted by his number, 636-667-1472, for information on tennis lessons and tournaments.

Lohan takes pride in seeing his students succeed, particularly the ones in his youth lessons and tournaments.

“A thing I’ll never forget was with [one of my students] the first time he ever played in the Show-Me [State] Games,” Lohan said. “He gets up there, and [in] his very first match, he loses. He comes off the court, and he has a smile from ear to ear. I asked him ‘Did you win?’ and he goes, ‘No, I lost, but I played well, and the guy was just good.’ The way he did it was a very class-act.” 

Lohan’s highest coaching priority is to teach good character in his students, such as integrity and sportsmanship.

“What I’ve noticed in my lifetime, overall, [is that tennis has] very good and honest people,” Lohan said. “Tennis is a game where you have to make the line calls yourself. People that cheat and make bad calls usually…have to leave [the sport] because nobody will play with them. The further along you get, you see a lot of good-quality people in the game of tennis.”